Ration Review!

So this week has seen us shopping and eating on a budget of £25 half our usual budget. Have we  starved? Has it been difficult? Well the results are in!


Firstly we have far from starved but…….. now we are very low on food it is getting more difficult to come up with interesting meals. Now of course we have the pantry as back up but……. this weeks frugal shop has bought something to our attention.  When we were supermarket shoppers our pantry was bursting full of stuff! We call it stuff as opposed to food or ingredients as we are unable to easily put our finger on exactly what was in there. The thing is our pantry these days isn’t as full but it is still in use just with more considered items in that we could in fact list if we had to. This has shown us that this experiment has changed our shopping habits and…… our mindset!

Before the start of our supermarket freeness we felt slightly stressed and ‘low’ on food if we didn’t have a neat stack of tinned goods in the pantry, or a million different types of baking supplies or weird and wacky items we had purchased in order to try out a particular recipe. We also used to have a stack of curry sauces and other convenience items! Now we simply don’t have these things! Well we still have the jars of weird curry sauces as…… the truth is we can’t face eating them. The items in our pantry now are ingredients rather than ‘products’ if this makes any sense! We have flour, sugar, oats, yeast, herbs and spices, nuts, dried fruit. So….. we think this has to be one of the reasons why this is working for us, we have stopped buying ‘products’ and now only buy ingredients.shopping week 7

We have been looking back at the photos of what we buy each week and have realised that we always buy fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, a few meals worth of meat, butter, milk and then we buy a few store cupboard ingredients each time. Plus cleaning products and loo roll, although the cleaning products we have purchased have been minimal. It would seem that the key to this for us is…….. less really is more and you can make more with less!More With Less Having the confidence to only buy what you need instead of stock piling for a rainy day seems to be the way forward (for us at least we know others may disagree). What’s really interesting is that this way of living is completely the opposite system to that which the supermarket makes one shop to! For us when we were supermarket shopping we really thought we were saving money by buying all the offers and saving them in our overcrowded pantry. With this system we didn’t know what we had and therefore sometimes purchase duplicates, things would go past their best and get wasted or we’d get bored of eating the same products. Our new method means that we choose what we eat and make rather than the supermarket.

Yes some things are more expensive without the supermarket but…… in the long run (for us – this is a disclaimer so that we don’t get sued by any of the big boys or a million comments telling us we are wrong) carefully selected items lead to a much better way of eating.

Shopping week 11

Shopping week 11

We have talked a lot this week about why this is working for us and we have come up with a list of items that we used to buy that we now either do not buy, buy very very occasionally or now make an alternative, there is only one conclusion these must have been the items that made our shopping bill more than we thought:

  1. Cereals – we always had at least three boxes of them on the go, we now have homemade granola or muesli and eat much less.
  2. Juices, Squashes, fizzy drinks – we buy very little of these kinds of products and are still on the same bottle of squash we bought back in week 3 of our year without supermarkets.
  3. Crisps – Becksie used to LOVE crisps Ian has never been that fussed!
  4. Biscuits – Ian used to LOVE biscuits Becksie was never that fused – to be fair Ian still LOVES biscuits but now we make our own – Becksie now loves these biscuits too.
  5. Processed freezer products – oven chips, ‘quick’ tea options, the odd pizza
  6. Other delights we had purchased because they were reduced and therefore ‘great’ value.
  7. Packet items – rice, pasta etc etc
  8. Ice cream
  9. Bread, bagels, croissants and Danish pastries

    shopping week 1

    Shopping week 1

If you had asked us before we would have said that we didn’t eat all this stuff that often and mostly cooked from scratch but…… we can only conclude that we had lulled ourselves into a false sense of security. What’s really interesting is that the items listed above are very often the items on special offer!

So that concludes our shopping ramblings for the day – Happy Easter folks!




27 thoughts on “Ration Review!

  1. Very interesting and absolutely correct in terms of what is in my larder cupboard. I have so much stuff in mine it’s embarrassing. If we got snowed in for a month I’m not sure we would get through it all. We don’t eat very much processed food but I do have pizzas and oven chips in the freezer for the boys when actually homemade oven chips are just as quick and much nicer and home made pizzas are something the boys love doing. I need to get rid of the Supermarket Comfort Blanket of special offers….in fact I think everyone would benefit from doing this.

    • Our pantry seems to hold the key to why this is working for us. Your right about it being a comfort blanket – we guess creating that comfort blanket is what some people are paid the big bucks to do 😦

  2. Happy Easter to you all! This post is interesting I still supermarket shop but like you I cook everything from scratch. We have oats for breakfasts and home made bread. No crisps, oven chips frozen pizzas and I bake cakes not buy. I do however buy special offers BUT only those like tea bags or loo rolls that I would buy anyway. I start to look for the offers when I’m near to running out. I batch cook meals and use lots of veggies to make them substantial. In part I put this down to how I was brought up and my age, born when supermarkets did not exist.

  3. I agree that it’s too easy to stockpile – I too could pretty much tell you what’s in my fridge, freezer and store cupboard! Having said that, personally, I do have to have back up such as oven chips, and I confess to having tins of baked beans or tins of soup in the cupboard, for days when I’m ultra busy, or as sometimes I just haven’t had time to batch cook for a while. I wonder whether it gets harder as children get older? Just looking at your list of things you don’t buy I couldn’t manage without some of those – it’s probably my unhealthy boys 😉. Ed drinks masses of high juice (won’t drink plain water), I don’t think I could make enough bread (I could invest in a bread maker. . . ), we eat a lot of pasta, I make biscuits but sometimes can keep up with it, especially if other children come over. Well done to you though, especially on your £25 shop, you are quite an inspiration 😄 ! X

      • I was thinking about this and I think that you’ll be fine as you’re getting into good habits with Lizzie now. I slipped into less than good habits when the boys were young and they’re difficult to break. I do beat myself up occasionally about it, especially things like the odd oven chip here and there or jar of pasta sauce. And the high juice! (Although I suppose at least he drinks well and his teeth are brilliant so no worries there.) And I do feel a bit inadequate when I read how brilliantly you’re doing and about how well other families who comment seem to shop and feed their families. I suppose we’re heading in the right direction though. Well done again :-).

      • Sandie, I don’t think you’ve got anything to feel inadequate about! Part of the trouble with the internet is that it’s easy to portray all the stuff that’s going right in your life and appear practically perfect. I know I only share about the things we’re doing ‘right’ as a family because they pertain to Team P’s blog. I don’t mention my youngests’ addiction to pasta pesto or the stash of sweet wrappers I found hidden in one of my children’s rooms…

        I’m lucky in that my 3 are happy to drink water. I guess you have to pick your battles (something I’m not v good at), choose one thing and change that habit. This week in our house it’s Why I’m Not Buying Pop Tarts Even If Eldest Daughters Friends All Eat Them… 🙂

        (Hope this doesn’t come across as patronising; it’s not meant to be.)


  4. I agree about full pantries with nothing in. We have got lots of packets of sauces and curries etc. which when it comes to it I never quite use. Once we went into Asda and got some jars of Chinese stir fry sauces,they were selling them off at 20p each so we grabbed 10. First time out I used a jar of lemon and ginger with my usual pork, onions, peppers etc. Result; not much flavour, very bland and not up to my usual standard. Used a couple more jars by adding lots of spice to give them flavour but then what was the point? Still got 7 left and they are well out of date. Hate throwing food out but…..so there they remain, products. Spot on Pugh’s buy ingriedients not products.

  5. Interesting post. I agree too about buying ingredients not products, though my husband doesn’t always see the potential and I have to assure him that there are several meals worth of food in the house.

    I do like to keep some food in the storecupboard as I have sympathy with the 9 meals from anarchy theory (I’m not a prepper with stashes of instant food but I feel uncomfortable with empty cupboards 🙂 ) but I’m tending to keep basic staples whereas when I shopped more in supermarkets I ended up with endless half packets of various things I’d bought to try.
    Like Sandie I keep tins of baked beans etc for convenience, but I’ve gave up with oven chips/fish fingers/frozen pizza because as soon as hubby knew they were there they’d get eaten for tea rather than kept for emergencies… Some convenience foods I realised there was just never an emergency great enough to need them 🙂

    I was thinking about your lack of pasta and rice the other day. The children would be quite happy to have pasta as the default meal here, but I do try to use more potatoes. What I’d like to do is make the pasta, but there isn’t time for everything 😉

    • yeah we’re not big pasta people hadn’t really considered this………. we do have a pasta maker that we swapped for a dog rug at Christmas (don’t ask) so watch out for pasta posts 🙂

      • I’ve got the pasta maker and make it from time to time, it’s just getting round to it….
        And I won’t ask! Sounds complicated! 😉

    • Thanks Hazel – you weren’t patronising at all. It is very true about picking battles and also about only talking about the things going right. I often try to say to myself that what I do is good enough. The main thing is the boys are happy and healthy 🙂

  6. Really interesting reading and inspiring. Your old list is exactly how we shop, and I’d really like to reduce our bills and eat more healthily. Having a small baby means I’ve slipped into freezer, easy, processed foods buying more in recent months, but as he’s now weaning and I’d like him eating with us, it makes sense to go back to ingredients buying and cooking – cheaper and healthier! I’ll be reading your updates for tips 🙂

  7. I agree with bits of what everyone has to say here. I think it’s easy to get sucked into stockpiling not only by the supermarkets but by the frugal belief that having a stockpile saves money, I don’t think it’s necessarily true, especially if you want to eat very healthily. I love my pantry but buy at three levels – 1. buying for what’s on the menu plan, 2. having one on the go and one in stock of dried things and 3. tiding us over until the next bargain price on non-food items. That helps me to manage stocks and only buy what we need and can store, but it gives us wiggle room for weeks where life goes according to Plan B and flexibility when it comes to how and where we shop.

    Even buying smaller amounts of things generally leaves a surplus so there’s usually enough to cobble a few meals together even if they have to be a bit more creative than usual. Having things in “just in case” is fine but I I find if I keep seeing the same item in there for ages I never want to eat it! As hmk71 says there’s never emergency enough for it to make the transition from cupboard to plate.

  8. Isn’t it funny how different we shop once we decide not to shop at the supermarkets anymore? I’m only just entering my fourth week, but I noticed the exact same thing. We don’t buy convenience “food” anymore, but rather ingredients, to make our own delicious food and snacks.
    Oh, and guess what? This week I had €26.10 left in my purse after all the shopping was done. (http://greedyminimalist.blogspot.nl/2013/04/2610.html) I’m quite pleased!

  9. I LOVE your blog – I discovered it a few months ago, and I am addicted to reading about your lives.
    I totally agree with this post, especially as I have been planning weekly food menus each week for quite a few years.
    Everything we cook is freshly made from scratch – we buy ingredients rather than “Stuff” and we even get a bi monthly fish delivery from the coast, so we always have fresh fish in the freezer!
    It saves money, and time, and we both (me and my hubby) know what is for dinner at the end of each day – it also saves a lot of waste, and we buy a lot less! Plus everything is fresh each week!
    We now shop at the farm shop for most of our shopping and the additional bits that we can’t get at the farm shop I buy at Aldi – although I have drastically reduce my Aldi shop from £60 per week to £30 at the farm shop and about £15 at Aldi.
    I try not to shop at the Sainsbury’s local, or the sainsbury’s that stares at me everyday through my window at work. (I have not set foot in this shop for over 2 months!)
    I will continue to read your blog, and look forward to the day when i too can stop shopping in supermarkets!

  10. Interesting read how habits can change. we mostly cook from scratch with some conveinience and shop reduced, meal plan but I like having stockpile of specific items as buy when on offer, have 3 hungry kids and no car so cant shop as frequent and places want to but am trying to buy less and not be sucked in my offers,Really trying to bake more. Just an idea maybe donate the sauces to a food bank before they go out of date.

Comments are closed.