Friday, 2 March 2012

Cheap Meals on £1 per Person per Day

February Food Trial Triumph!

Frugal Lasagne
It was decided that we had to analyse a few of the meal costs in order to ascertain if it is still possible to cover the costs of groceries on the sum total of £1 per person per day. Having stuck to this challenge for so long, I suspected that it had to be true, otherwise I'd have been failing in my challenge and, as you all know by now, failure cannot be an option.

Spurred on by the ridiculous claims made by some recent television shows quoting families spending over £9,000 per year on food alone, it was easy to prove that my methods were sound. I had been invited to participate in one such show, but swiftly declined. I am most certainly NOT the type to go on TV, as anyone who knows me will agree.

The unfortunate part of having chosen February to fully explain how this can be done was that my kitchen was being ripped out, so that took its toll on the final results. I was hoping for a result of less than 95p per person per day but, instead, got landed with 96.8p per person per day. The full breakdown of all meals and costs can be found HERE.

The porridge post is a few pages back on this blog, so you can try making your own frugal breakfast for 9p per serving. Likewise, all of the soup recipes are included on here, so they will explain the 4p per portion, and the bread recipes will explain how I accounted for the cost of breadmaking.

Ginger sponge
 Restricted access to the kitchen made things very difficult, juggling cooking, baking and food preparation with interupted power supplies, no worktops and, in the latter stages, no ready access to the food supplies, so it was very much a case of using what could be reached and/or prepared and heatd or cooked on the day. The slow cooker, microwave, breadmaker and electric steamer are certainly the most important items I have as far as the (non)kitchen is concerned, but I did manage to get some baking done so we weren't without cakes, sponge and biscuits.

Not living near a supermarket can increase the pressure on a limited budget, which is why I'm trying to grow as much fruit and veg as possible. Moving here in June 2011 to a house with a patch of land that hadn't been touched in years meant lack of planting and growing time before autumn arrived. Home produce was limited but, all things considered, I think we did OK. We were a little short on eggs after the mink got in and killed some of the hens, but we still had quail eggs until the quail stopped laying. Now, what's left of the hens are back laying and pretty soon the ducks will be, too.

Spring bulbs flowering
 Spring 2012 will soon be here, so preparations are underway to get the microholding project up and running. This, of course, still has to fit in with the full renovation of the house, which includs the completion of the kitchen. That's my primary goal, but if the sun happens to shine, priorities must lie outdoors, in an effort to produce as much basic foodstuffs as possible.

Herb garden
 In the meantime, I have crates and boxes piled throughout the house with enough bread flour, custard powder, semolina, hot chocolate, blancmange and cous cous to last us all year. The freezer is full with an assortment of stews, soups, vegetables and berries, plus the last of the garden onions hanging in the outbuilding. And to top all of that, the herb garden survived the winter, as did all the cuttings from the rosemary and thyme.

Top tips for keeping the cost of meals down:
  • Bulk buy your favourites whenever they're on offer.
  • Make the most of long shelf life products bearing 'best before' dates, which can pretty much be ignored, because the the food contained within can last for years. I don't think sugar even carries a best before date. eg: Approved Food offers some great bulk bargains.
  • Get stocked up on sugar before the jam making season is upon us once more.
  • Cook everything from scratch in big batches.
  • Grow some herbs, fruit and vegetables, even if it's nothing more than salad leaves in a tub.
  • Learn to love porridge, soup and milk puddings.
  • Waste nothing.
So, the moral of this story is that in 2012, thirteen years after my very first grocery budget challenge, it IS still possible to feed a family based on a budget of £1 per person per day. Your 5-a-day may be a little erratic durig the mid-winter months but you more than make up for it during summer. Oh, and cranberry sauce makes a lovely topping for semolina once all the Christmas turkey has gone - no point wasting that!

If anyone would like to sponsor this project, I'll happily continue to write up a daily meal plan along with the frugalised recipes, moneysaving methods and sneaky tips.


  1. You are a real inspiration. I thought I was doing well at £100 a month on food, but now you make me believe that I could do it for £30 with more organisation (especially when some of my home grown things appear later this year. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. You most certainly could, Dan. It is becoming increasingly difficult while living so far from a supermarket but websites like, and go a long way to compensating for that. Even offers up some bargains with free delivery, so I always check on there, too.

    Delivery charges can be less than the cost of the petrol to drive to the nearest big name store, none of which are within 20 miles of us, so no home dliveries available from them. I often wonder how low I could get the grocery bills if I lived within walking distance of those big supermarkets.

  3. I notice you shop at Approved Food; aren't they marvellous! I've just put in my latest order; £31 incl £5.25 postage but the original price would have been £106! Love it! Do you have to pay the £10-odd postage where you live? Even if you do, it's still a bargain.

  4. Attila, we're on the mainland in th southwest of Scotland, so the delivery costs same here, which is less than it costs for a gallon of petrol to drive to town and back. :) I've made some huge savings in the past by shopping online in th clearance stores and was really disappointed when Big Brands for Less closd their website. It was brilliant for bread mix.

  5. You have done brilliantly with your costs. And you all eat like Kings. Nothing tastier than home made jam.

    Perhaps a summer month review?

    Sft x

  6. Missing your blog...hope all is OK??

  7. Hi Lynda, thanks for the comment. I simply haven't had time to keep up with everythingrecently and am now reassessing what should and shouldn't stay.

    I do daily updates in the forum at where all the challenges are running and I will get an update done on here as soon as possible.

    Renovations, garden transformation, holidays, family stuff and trying to earn a living have kept me away from blogging for a bit, so I can only apologise. :)


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