I absolutely hate throwing away veg past its sell by date and I also can’t abide hitting the supermarket on a weekend. Therefore meal planning and internet food shopping really floats my boat. I’m not willing to give up my Sunday to prep for the week ahead but thought it might be helpful to share the ways I make our weekly food budget work for us.

We pay the supermarket annually for a free delivery pass which means all orders over £40 are delivered free. In total we probably spend around £60-£70 a week on food to eat at home and then there’s the toiletries and cleaning products which results in us placing an order every four or five days. We both spend the majority of the week working from home and usually eat out a couple of times over the weekend therefore we probably have around 17-18 meals each at home each week. We don’t scrimp on fruit and veg and I think we pack about three of our five a day into smoothies which cost about £15 a week. We try to make sure every meal has some form of greenery and a hefty dose of protein.

Get Geeky

James and I have a shared spreadsheet with links to about thirty different recipes. Listed under each recipe are all the ingredients required for each dish so once we’ve planned what we’re having for the week it’s easy to build our online basket. It works really well for us and means that we rarely waste any ingredients so it’s cost effective too. If we’re buying a load of courgettes for Salmon Patties we’re likely to have another courgette recipe too, for example Bill Granger’s Courgette Risotto, which BTW you bake in the oven so is far less faffy than a usual risotto stir-a-thon.

{Edit – I’ve included a link to download an example ingredient planning spreadsheet. It’s very basic but will hopefully give an idea of how mine is laid out.}

Use Store Cupboard Essentials Later In The Week

Largely this keeps the food fresh but we have a few dishes that are heavy on the store cupboard or freezer ingredients which we slot in later in the week. Dishes such as Jamie’s Kedgeree (great if you have a hangover scheduled in) use frozen fish and we throw in frozen peas too, while super quick Matar Paneer is usually one for later on in the week too as the paneer keeps a while, the tomatoes are cartoned and peas frozen.

Look At the Week Ahead

When we’re planning for the week ahead (or five day ahead in our case) we take a look at our diaries to confirm when we’ll be eating at home or if we’ll be eating on the go. We have a few dishes in our repertoire that are very quick which we’ll plan in if we’re time short on a particular day. Halloumi and Puy Lentils is one of our favourites if we know we’re going to need a quick meal. I also like the Joe Wicks blue book for dinners when I’m short on time.

Batch Cooking

I haven’t got the stage of making large quantities of food and freezing them but we regularly make dishes to feed four and save the leftovers for the day after. This is particularly good for us as we both work from home a lot so often find ourselves gazing into the fridge at lunchtime wishing we had an at-home canteen.
Chilli is always great for this and sometimes I think it actually tastes better on day 2 than the first day when all the flavours have absorbed. Adam was singing the praises of Deliciusly Ella’s Rocket & Brazil Nut Pesto recently. This is great as it’s really tasty and lasts several days so you could have with pasta or courgetti one day and have it with chicken another. While Deliciously Ella can be known for her spendy ingredients, compared to supermarket jars of pesto this is comparable and far healthier.
My go-to for lunch at the moment is Madeline Shaw’s Tomato and Lentil Soup which I make enough to cover at least two lunches for us both.

Bulk Out With Lentils and Pulses

As I don’t eat meat, I’m always on the look out for other protein sources so I have a cupboard full of lentils and pulses. In fact I was reading gram for gram lentils have more protein than beef. Bulking out any dish with a carton of organic chick peas or a handful of lentils is a sure-fire way to make it go further, increase the protein intake and save a bit of money too. I often throw in some of my favourite pulses to a stew to make it last another day.

Did anyone watch the C4 documentary on Britain’s Largest Family? I have no idea how a £300 a week food budget stretched to feed them all. I’m imagining our weekly budget is pretty average for a couple with a full salad drawer. How do you budget and plan your weekly meals and make sure nothing goes to waste?

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