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Feeding a family on a budget

Egg, Chips and peas

I read an article some time ago about feeding a family of four on 60 pounds a week. I thought, I can do better than that! The eggs, chips and peas in the picture cost about 50p to cook. If every meal was as frugal as that, it would be easy! The big problem is that kids can be so fussy and so you do have to present the food in an attractive way for the children. My eggs and chips are multi-coloured; white, yellow, green and red makes it look quite attractive!

I could feed a family of 2 adults and 2 children on 60 pounds a week, but it wouldn’t be easy. Let’s start with staples, potatoes and bread. I would buy a 25 Kg bag of potatoes, I have seen them for sale at a Asian supermarket for 5 pounds. I would also buy onions there too. The potatoes work out to 20p a kilo and the onions are about the same, less if you buy a big bag. The potatoes won’t be washed like in the supermarket. But why pay for them to be washed when you can do it yourself? With the potatoes you can do boiled, roast, baked, chips, and even Spanish omelettes. You can get cheap bread for about 50p. I’m a coeliac and I don’t eat bread, but it is a staple and so for a normal family that would be an essential.

I would certainly buy eggs. Egg, chips and peas for a family of four, if you used cheap potatoes and everyone had just one egg each would work out at about a pound. Do that twice a week and you have 58 pounds left for the rest of the meals. With an average of only 70p for each meal we have to try to make sure some meals like breakfast cost less than 70p. The family eating 3 meals a day, needs 84 meals over the 7 day period on just £60!

Breakfasts when I was a child was an egg with toasted soldiers, which would work out at about 15p each. The other filling and cheap breakfast was porridge. I have no idea how much that would cost, but I think it would be about the same as egg and toast. That’s breakfasts taken care of at about 5 pounds a week. We still have 55 pounds left for 56 main meals. That’s quite easy! A large chicken, potatoes and veggies for Sunday lunch would cost about a fiver. There would be chicken left over for sandwiches for Sunday tea and that could be supplemented with salmon sandwiches and home-made trifle.

The children might need packed lunches and they need their 5 fruit and veg a day. A packed lunch of sandwiches with cooked chicken left over from the Sunday lunch, salad, cheese, or other sliced meat should cost about 2 pounds a day at most; that can include a portion of fruit like a banana.

Canned fish seems reasonable if you buy pink salmon rather than red salmon, for some reason it’s half the price. Pink salmon is around a pound a tin and good for sandwiches. It would be best to avoid things like cooked ham; too expensive. 

When we were children, we had desserts with many meals and rice pudding was often served up. I hated it! But it is a cheap dessert for children if they are still hungry after a meal. We also had baked potatoes that were cut open and a sausage put in the middle. I suspect that won’t be so cheap as it used to be; because sausage was really cheap when I was a child, but still worth doing if you have a 25 kg bag of potatoes.

Making good use of staple foods will make it easier to make the average meal cost 70p. I had long grain rice for 25p a kilo and that will make a stir fry with some diced pork, soya sauce, 5 spice and peas. Frozen peas are good, I get 1 Kg for 99p. That is just 8p for an adult portion of peas and 5p for a child portion. Add peas to a meal for 2 adults and 2 children and it costs just 26p! You don’t really have to weigh the portions, just cook a quarter of the bag for the family.

It would be worth buying a bag of flour to do omelettes and pancakes too. Pancakes were a treat when I was a child, but they are nourishing and cheap. It is important f you have pancakes for a meal to have fruit as a dessert afterwards. It isn’t easy for a family of four to get their 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. You have to make good use of frozen vegetables like peas, vegetables that are in season and watch out for the bargains. Fruit and vegetables are discounted when they are ripe and so watch out for them. You can also go out picking blackberries in summer, it’s a great day out for the family and you can eat them with cream or ice cream or even make jam.

Consider too growing some food in pots, a tub or in the garden. Potatoes and runner beans are easy. Growing vegetables will save you money in the summer. A family of four need 600 portions of fruit and vegetables in a month. That will cost at least £40 even for frozen peas! You can save that money if you can grow all your fruit and vegetables through the summer. Encourage the kids to do some of the gardening, send them out each day to pick runner beans and harvest salad, like lettuces. Send them out in the evening with a torch hunting for slugs and snails!

Bread is a great staple food and so make full use of it. Toast it and dip toasted soldiers into boiled eggs, into home-made soup and do meals like egg on toast followed up with fruit for dessert. Hard boiled eggs are good on salad sandwiches and are very frugal if you grow the lettuce yourself.

I had 4 pieces of haddock from Aldi for less than 2 pounds and there is enough to do fish, chips and peas. You would be within you budget of 2.80 for the four meals too.

If you do a lot of meals for under the 70p  meal budget, you have a little money left over for a jar of jam to make the rice pudding taste acceptable. You also might consider extra bread for toast, a good snack in the evening to ward off the hunger pangs. Remember too, not to waste anything; all the waste will go to make compost. The carcass from the Sunday roast chicken will make chicken stock as a base for soup.

When shopping watch out for bargains, especially in the fruit and vegetables. Making a nourishing stew with a stew pack in winter will be packed full of vitamins and keep out the cold. Buy dried food like split peas to add protein to your stews, buy in bulk if you can, buy cheap rice, buy in season fruit and veg and learn how to cook cheap cuts of meat.

If you are struggling to feed your family, also make sure everyone is cutting down and not wasting anything, even hot water or leaving lights on. Check to see if you have a local food bank and take the kids out looking for cheap food around markets and free food in the hedge rows.

There are more amazing blogs on a Zillion Ideas. Why not pop over there and take look? I was told the other day that I should be proud to be British. I’ll put the flags out, when there are no more greedy bankers or hungry children.


3 responses

  1. Pingback: This week in blogs « Mike10613's Blog

  2. A very interesting blog 😀
    I think the key to eating cheaply is to plan, which I don’t think many people do…it make’s a huge reduction in my food costs.

    9, July 2012 at 6:46 pm

  3. Hi Anna,

    I shopped in a different supermarket today and it really seemed expensive after using discount ones. The one special offer I had wasn’t recognised at the check out! I will go back to the discounter!

    Thanks for visiting and following.

    9, July 2012 at 11:20 pm

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