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The best budget food shopping list (costing less than £20 a week)

Need to stick to a tight grocery budget but are stuck for inspiration with your shopping list?

Cheap groceries do not have to equal boring meals! I’m going to share a brilliant shopping list that comes in at less than £20 for an entire week of meals for a family of four. 

Food is one of our biggest household expenditures every week. 

Woman doing a budget grocery shop for less than £20

This is partly because there’s four of us (and wow my growing kids are eating a lot more these days!) but also because I love to cook and to eat. 

So when I look to keep our food budget under control I try to do so in a way that still lets me eat the stuff that we really enjoy. 

We may have one week where we go really simple and get our budget right down to less than £20 for the week. 

Then we might have a more expensive week where we’ve bought some nice ready meals, or even a takeaway, and a large joint of meat for a roast. 

For me it’s all about living within my means while also enjoying cooking and food. 

You can eat delicious food without breaking the bank and this article is going to show you how! 

You may also like to check out my post with all the details of when supermarkets discount their food every day. It’s a great way to cut the costs of your food shop!

You may also like: 34 cheap family meal ideas costing as little as £1 a head

Cheapest foods to buy in the UK

Creating a budget shopping list doesn’t mean all of the ingredients have to be processed. 

You can save money on healthy, fresh vegetables and meat by looking for cheaper cuts of meat and seasonable produce, which is plentiful and therefore cheaper. 

Vegetables 

Carrots 

Serve them uncooked cut into sticks in lunch boxes or as a snack, or cook them and serve with dinner! 

Onions 

Great for adding flavour to your meals and also for bulking out recipes in a super cheap way. 

Frozen veggies 

If you like to stay healthy then you may think fresh is vest when it comes to veg but frozen veggies are great because you get all of the nutrients plus you’re way less likely to waste them. We always have frozen peas and broccoli and cauliflower florets in our freezer. 

Staples 

Porridge oats

This is one of my kids’ favourite breakfasts served with a little honey and/or fruit. It’s way cheaper to buy a box of oats rather than the boxes of sachets. 

Eggs 

Versatile and seriously good for you, plus they are filling for hungry tummies. I use eggs to make so many things, from batter for Yorkshire pudding to eggy bread and omelettes. They’re perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 

Pasta 

This is one of the best budget foods you can buy because you can do so many different things with it! From tomato sauces to cheesy sauces to pasta bakes, it can be used to feed your family for an entire week. Pasta with a little pesto and grated cheese is one of my favourite low fuss meals. 

Rice 

We use basmati rice a lot in our cooking, but always have boxes of paella rice and risotto rice in the cupboard too. You can knock up a simple risotto using leftover veg in your fridge such as squash and mushrooms. 

Meat 

Pork 

Pork shoulder and other roasting joints tend to be way cheaper than lamb and beef roasting joints. Gammon is also a super cheap option.

Chicken thighs 

Way cheaper than chicken breasts but super versatile when it comes to cooking. Use them in curries and casseroles and you will get seriously tender and delicious meat! Chicken drumsticks are also a much cheaper option, and kids love them!

Canned foods 

Beans and pulses 

There are so many benefits to adding more beans and pulses to your diet. First of all cans of beans are very cheap, secondly they are extremely good for you and finally they are so versatile. Add butter beans to a sausage casserole or use red kidney beans in a spicy chilli. There’s a huge range of dishes that you can add beans to so definitely check out the different ones on offer and add a few cans to your trolley.

Tomatoes 

Tinned tomatoes are something I use every single week because they can be added to so many recipes. The provide the base for many sauces, including homemade pasta sauce, chilli con carne, spaghetti Bolognese, and more. If you need a sauce to top a homemade pizza then simple put the tomatoes into a food processor and blend until smooth, as this is generally cheaper than buying passata. 

Staple ingredients 

Before we get to the budget shopping list I just want to add there are a few necessities you should always have in your store cupboard. 

Of course you may have to add these to your grocery list occasionally to top them up, which can tip your budget over £20. 

I advise when it comes to buying long shelf life items like pasta and rice to always buy the largest pack, as this is generally cheaper, but always look for deals. Sometimes supermarkets cut prices on certain sizes of products which makes it cheaper to buy several smaller packs than one large pack. 

Cheddar cheese – buy a large block to last you for sandwiches and to use in cooking, I tend to make one large block of cheese last 3 weeks 

  • Garlic – keeps for a long time when kept in a fridge door
  • Butter 
  • Spread 
  • Herbs and spices – I always have a supply of things like dried cumin and garam massala – I add this to chilli con carne and to make curries from scratch 
  • Cans chopped tomatoes – buy in bulk packs of 4 to save money 
  • Tomato paste 
  • Rice 
  • Spaghetti 
  • Penne pasta (or whatever your preferred pasta shape is!)
  • Plain flour – use it to make Yorkshire puddings for your roast dinner or to make pancakes 
  • Bread flour – I don’t bake my own bread much but do use this a lot to make pizza bases from scratch 
  • Yeast sachets – for the pizza dough 
  • Gravy granules 
  • Frozen chips 
  • Frozen peas 
  • Olive oil 
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Tomato ketchup 
  • Breakfast cereals 
  • Porridge oats 
  • Honey 
  • Stock cubes – I always have beef, chicken and vegetable stock cubes in the cupboard 
  • Dried mixed herbs – have a large pot of mixed Italian herbs which I use in so many dishes
  • Pesto – to add to pasta for a quick mid-week meal

Sample weekly grocery list for less than £20 

These prices are taken from Aldi supermarket. Prices make vary depending on seasonality so I recommend you look for deals in all sections when doing your shop and adapt if you find cheaper offers on different cuts of meat of types of veg. 

Meat 

Sliced ham – 99p

750g beef mince – £4.79 

Pork shoulder joint – £4.19

Chicken drumsticks – £1.35

Fruit and Veg

Broccoli – 47p

Cauliflower – 79p

Carrots – 27p

2.5kg potatoes – 89p

Peppers – 82p

Bananas – 65p 

Apples – 60p

Staples

Bread – 49p

Milk – £1.39

12 pack eggs – £1.75 

Passata – 32p

TOTAL COST: £19.76

Easy budget weekly meal plan costing less than £20

This is a sample meal plan for what you can do with the above budget shopping list. 

For kids lunch boxes make ham or cheese sandwiches, or use leftover roast pork, or box up any leftover chicken drumsticks. 

Alternatively make omelettes and put those into the lunchbox to eat cold. Eggy bread also makes a lovely lunch – simple beat egg into a shallow bowl then coat a slice of bread in the egg before frying in a little oil or butter. 

Slice up peppers and carrots into sticks and add a banana too. Breadsticks and a little pot of hummus also make a great, cheap addition to a lunch box. 

Sunday 

Roast pork with potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (I use this recipe) and veggies 

Monday 

Leftover roast pork – make extra roast potatoes on Sunday, store in the fridge, then dice into smaller pieces and fry in a little oil in a frying pan to serve with your leftover meat 

Tuesday 

Spaghetti Bolognese – brown the mince then add some chopped tomatoes and simmer (I usually add a beef stock cube) for around 15 minutes. You can also add dried mixed herbs for flavour.

Wednesday 

Chicken drumsticks, veg and chips – either use potatoes cut into wedges and then roasted with a little olive oil in the oven or frozen chips 

Thursday 

Leftover spaghetti Bolognese or use reserved beef mince to make a chilli con carne 

Friday 

Pizza – Make your own dough with this recipe and top with passata, peppers and grated cheese before roasting in the oven for around 10 to 15 minutes 

Saturday 

Omelette – Top with sliced peppers 

Final thoughts on spending just £20 a week on food

Sticking to a £20 weekly food budget is tough with a family of four, but it’s totally possible.

Meal planning is key, so figure out exactly what meals you will be doing before hitting the shops.

I also recommend going to the supermarket on a full stomach, because visiting on an empty stomach means you will load up on snacks.

For more tips on saving money you may also like my tips for frugal living and ways to cut costs on your grocery bill.

The best budget shopping list UK

Rebecca Gratton

Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

I need help with this please a single mum with two children struggling with finances