Last week cutting food costs in January

Picture of bread and butter pudding and cream for my post on cutting food costs in January

Budget entertaining: panettone bread & butter pudding

Turns out I was on such a roll cutting food costs in January, I even stretched it to the first day in February!

Here’s a quick update on the final week, and then I’ll come back with a post looking back over the whole month.

Previous posts: after the first week, second week and third week

How it went in our last week of cutting food costs

This last week I felt like a woman on a mission, trying to make the most of what we had without yet more top up shops.

Several tactics helped cut food costs this week:

  • Using yellow-stickered lamb and chicken thighs as the basis of meals, for the Thai green chicken curry and lamb, chickpea and spinach curry.
  • Raiding the freezer so we didn’t completely blow the budget when we had a visitor at the weekend. Here’s to salmon and haddock defrosted for fish pie, and a chicken for Sunday lunch.
  • Stretching ingredients so the leftover roast chicken became chicken pie the next night, and the chicken juices went into split pea soup.
  • Focusing on ‘use it up’ meals, to get rid of some of the lasagne sheets and split peas, the last of the noodles and so on.
  • Sending my husband to the supermarket so I couldn’t spend more!

 

Picture of lamb curry, raita and naan bread as one of our meals when cutting food costs in January

Curry to help use up frozen spinach

Main meals for the last week of January

Here’s what we actually ate at the end of January, as main meals for a family of four:

  • Jan 24: Thai green chicken curry with baby sweetcorn and green beans, plus rice. Creamy ham pasta for the children.
  • Jan 25: Tuna mayo sandwiches with corn on the cob.
  • Jan 26: Fish pie with salmon, smoked and unsmoked haddock, peas and prawns, plus broccoli. French apple tart with cream for pudding.
  • Jan 27: Roast chicken with roast potatoes, carrots, green beans and gravy. Panettone bread and butter pudding with cream.
  • Jan 28: Chicken pie with jacket potatoes and broccoli
  • Jan 29: Fish and chips! Takeaway to celebrate my daughter finishing her school tests.
  • Jan 30: Lamb, chickpea and spinach curry with tomato & cucumber raita, rice and naan. Cheesy Quesadillas for my daughter.
  • Jan 31: Roasted vegetable lasagne with salad
  • Feb 1: Chicken and prawn stir fry with rice, with tuna & sweetcorn and rice for my daughter

 

Picture of roast chicken and carrots to make a pie for my post on cutting food costs in January

Last of the roast chicken for a pie

Food shopping

I started off determined to spend less on food shopping than either of the two previous weeks.

And I did – just. As we had a visitor, I did get some extra stuff we probably wouldn’t have got otherwise, like croissants, fruit juice, crisps to eat with drinks and cream for puddings.

I went to the Co-op to get the potatoes and prawns to finish a fish pie, and ended up spending £14.07 including a yellow-stickered haul. Then we headed to Morrisons the next day, where I was determined to get enough supplies to avoid extra top up shops, emerging £34.92 lighter.

With the total hovering dangerously close to the £56.79 spent in the previous week, I avoided the shops entirely, and even asked my husband to pick up extra milk so I couldn’t buy anything else.

Net result: we spent £51.19, and even managed to stretch through 1 February without any further shopping.

Will let you know how much we spent overall, and whether we saved money compared to the last couple of months, in a round up post. Do check in to find out!

And so?

In a weird way, I’ve rather enjoyed the challenge of trying to cut food costs during January.

Aside from any benefits from spending less, I’ve also had fun trying new recipes and eating more unusual lunches than ham sandwiches on autopilot. Jotting down a quick meal plan didn’t just help with buying less, but also removed the stress of wondering what on earth to cook.

 

Now – over to you. What has helped you cut food costs in January? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!

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Pinterest sized image of panettone bread & butter pudding with cream for my post on cutting food costs in January

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7 Comments

  1. Alison Butler
    February 4, 2019 / 5:15 pm

    Glad you had a better week, I had to really focus to get to the end of the month without going over our (total) monthly budget. I have to confess to going over on our food budget, but did not spend as much as anticipated on other things, so ended up about £4 under for the month. We have a small freezer in the motorhome, which really makes a difference, so have probably bought about as much ‘main’ food as we have used from the freezer so there is still at least a weeks’ worth of main meals in there.
    I do love having a food budget, even in ‘foreign’ locations, as it does force you to be a bit creative and search through cupboards to see what you have.

    • Faith
      Author
      February 5, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      Glad you managed to come in under budget overall, congrats! And definitely agree that sticking to a budget forces you to be more creative, I was surprised how much I enjoyed coming up with different meals based on the limited food we had.

  2. Margie from Toronto
    February 4, 2019 / 6:44 pm

    Staying out of the shops has been the easiest way to save money as I tend to find “offers” very tempting. Even when I’ve seen half price stickers on meat I’ve walked past as I still have a freezer full of proteins to eat!
    I am quite pleased with what I’ve managed to use as alternatives when I’ve run out of things and since it’s just me to cook for I don’t mind some odd meals now and again. 🙂
    I managed to keep my January costs down to about half of what I’d normally spend and hope to do even better in February. I spent $25 on February 1st and hope that will do me until this weekend. I’m trying to keep purchases to fresh fruit & veg, dairy and maybe a bit of bread (I eat fairly low carb so only purchase the occasional loaf). I do still check the flyers and in-store offers but will only buy for the pantry if it’s a really good offer.

    • Faith
      Author
      February 5, 2019 / 3:39 pm

      Wow great job keeping costs so low during January. Having to stay out of shops to avoid yet more bargains sounds very familiar! Hope all goes well in February too.

  3. Sue
    February 5, 2019 / 8:26 am

    My main saving while trying to have a frugal January has been by using up unlikely mixes in soup especially using up tins that have been hiding at the back of cupboards.
    I’m about to go through the dried and tinned stores again to remind myself what’s still there and continue the challenge into February.
    Yesterday we had one made from sweet potatoes, frozen peas, tinned butter beans and sweet corn, leeks, which were the only ingredient I bought and vegetable stock cubes. Despite its appearance it was delicious and very filling as a main meal. Two bags full have gone into the freezer and there’s enough left for today or tomorrow in the fridge.
    When I make soup like this I add the minimum of liquid to the portions I freeze which saves space.

    • Faith
      Author
      February 5, 2019 / 3:39 pm

      Glad the soup tasted great. Soup is such a good call in this chilly weather! Do you manage to use up extra portions that go into the freezer, or do you find the more you cook, the fuller it gets?

      • Sue
        February 5, 2019 / 7:34 pm

        I must admit I have to be careful not to hoard things.( I blame this on the fact that I was a war baby.)
        At present I am stock piling to take to a friend when we go to stay.
        She has MS so I’m doubling up on meals and freezing one to take with us.
        The rest of the frozen soups stop me being tempted to buy ready meals when I’m tired or lacking inspiration.
        I have always cooked from scratch and would hate to go down the ready meal route unless I really have to. They are so expensive for a start!