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.
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.
Serve them uncooked cut into sticks in lunch boxes or as a snack, or cook them and serve with dinner!
Great for adding flavour to your meals and also for bulking out recipes in a super cheap way.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Pork shoulder and other roasting joints tend to be way cheaper than lamb and beef roasting joints. Gammon is also a super cheap option.
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!
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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 may 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.
- Sliced ham – 79p
- 750g beef mince – £2.65
- Pork shoulder joint – £4.94
- Chicken drumsticks 1kg – £2.45
Fruit and Veg
- Broccoli – 47p
- Cauliflower – 79p
- Carrots – 27p
- 2kg potatoes – 95p
- Peppers – 82p
- Bananas – 65p
- Apples – 60p
- Bread – 39p
- Milk – £1.65
- 12 pack eggs – £1.75
- Passata – 42p
- Tin chopped tomatoes – 32p
TOTAL COST: £19.91
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 to serve four people.
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.
Roast pork with potatoes, Yorkshire pudding (I use this recipe) and veggies.
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.
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. Set half the beef mince aside for later in the week for Thursday’s meal (or cook a big portion of bolognese and have this for leftovers on Thursday).
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.
Leftover spaghetti Bolognese or use reserved beef mince to make a chilli con carne.
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.
Omelette – Top with sliced peppers.
Quick tips to save money on food
Look at price by weight
When buying anything with a long shelf life, particularly things like pasta and rice that are sold in different sizes of packaging, check the price by weight.
You may be surprised that a different sized package can have a significantly different price per kg.
It’s not always the bigger sizes that are cheaper either – I often see money off deals on big “value packs” but when you look at the cost of smaller versions the ultimate price is exactly the same.
Check the bottom shelf
Supermarkets often put their most expensive versions of products in direct eyeline, so you just grab the first thing you see.
Look down and all around the shelf to check you are buying the best value item.
Don’t rely on big brands
Switch to supermarket own or a cheaper brand. You are unlike t notice the difference, especially with staples such as pasta.
Plan before you shop
Know exactly what you are going to be buying before you head to the shops. This will prevent you over-buying and mean you make the most of the ingredients you purchase.
And it’s also worth ensuring you don’t shop on an empty stomach, as this can often mean you buy stuff you really don’t need because your hunger takes over!
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.
And keep your eyes peeled for special offers and shop the seasonal veg as it will be a little cheaper.
I also recommend going to the supermarket on a full stomach, because visiting on an empty stomach means you will load up on snacks.