Tag Archives: living on £53 a month

shopping for food part 5

1 May

April is now over and here is the 4th week’s grocery bill and the last of these kinds of posting about my grocery bill. It is just to show how easy it is to keep to a £53 a month budget for food.
My grocery spending up to date.

23.4- 30.4.2013
Sweetpeppers 600mgx2 =.78p
Frozen king prawns (sainsburys) 225mg = £2.50p
Celeryx2 = £1
Bread800mg =.25p
Oats1kg =.75p
Total £4.78
Running total £37.35

Recount the previous 3 weeks.

Cauliflower = .69p
15eggs = 1.34p
Frozen broccoli 1kg = £1
Sweet peppers = .59p
Toilet paper 12rolls = £1.89
Oranges = .69p
Biscuits = .23
Apricot jam454mg (from aldi) = .79p
Total £7.22
Running total £32.57

Ceylon tea 125mg = £1.29
Bread800mgx2 = .20p
Cocoa powder Tesco 250mg =£2.28
Peanut butter Tesco 340mg = .62
Broccoli =.25p
Onions = .50p
Tomatoes (cherry and ordinary) =£1
Garlic = .50p
Carrots =.50p
Ginger = .50p
2.5kg frozen chicken pieces Sainsbury =.£4.38
Total £12.02
Running total £25.35

Sultanas 500mg =.98p
Oats 1kg = .75p
Coffee100mg = .47
Cauliflower = .40p
Gala apples = £1
Pork 2kg = £5.98
Ginger =.50
Garlic = .50p
Tomatoes =.50p
Onions =.50p
Ketchup = .28p
Broccoli = .49p
Carrots = .49p
Leeks = .49p
Total £13.33

Summary of april 2013 grocery spending
Veg= £11.88
Meat =£10.36
Seafood =£2.50
Fruits £1.69

Stock-up items
tea loose 125mg £1.29
Cocoa 250mg =£2.28

I buy rice 5kg at a time. Last time it cost £4. But I think that Tesco basic basmati rice is no longer being sold. So I guess it will be £5 for 5kg from now. I take about 45days to finish a bag. So it comes to about 11p a day.
So even if u add £5 to the running total, it will only come to £42.35

I am curious to compare with what I spent 1 yr ago.

March 2012 spend.

First week
Chicken =£3.16
bacon pork 2kg = £3
Broccoli =.62p
Potatoes ,carrots = 1.26
Beef = £3.29p
Pork =£2.61
Bread = .10p
milk powder400mg £1.01p
peanut butter =.62p
Porksausages2packs =.40p
Total £16.07

2nd week
Chicken =£1
Mushroom = .29p
Bread800mgx3 =.30p
Parsnips =.30p
Onions =.60p
Eggs =1.25p
Oranges =£1
Total 4.74
Running total £20.81

3rd week
Veg =£1.30
Pork = £3.65
Chilli sauce =£1.65
Rice noodlesx2 =£1.90
bean sprouts =.50p
Toilet paper8rolls £1.96
Cauliflower =.59p
frozenPeas900mg =.90p
Total £12.47
Running total £33.26

4th week
Broccoli =.50p
Oranges =£1
Beef = £3.59
Digestive biscuits =.39p
peanut butter =.62p
Total £6.10

Running total £39.36

Summary of april 2012
Meat =£20.70
Veg = £6.36
Fruits =£2

I noticed that a year ago I ate more meat. because there were lots of meat being reduced in price as they reach their sell by date. This year there is a dearth of these bargain meats. I made up for it by eating more veg, because I found out aldi has super 6 items reduction promotion where they sell veg very cheap.

Also the other supermarkets are reducing their prices on veg too.

You can see how easy it is to keep to a £53 a month budget.

I spent less than that.

Next week there will be the publicity because there is a charity asking people to try living on £1 a day.
And I see their recipes full of beans, and lentils … no meat.
And rather boring and small portions too… yet it need not be so. Just a little bit more than £1 a day and buying in bulk for a month instead of weekly will enable u to eat well. And no need to go vegetarian either.

I think I have shown that it is easy to have a filling balanced diet on about £1 a day and it is sustainable.

The menus made by those celebrities who try to follow it , mainly eggs, bread, lentils and beans, are not sustainable in the long run.

The secret? No starters nor desserts , cereals, or milk.

Oats(made in the microwave with a sprinkle of sultanas, milk powder and water) and toastedbread with jam/peanut butter , coffee for breakfast. It may sound monotonous but I find in the morning I am too lazy to make anything more complicated than that.
Many people think we like variety, but for something like breakfast many us would settle for familiarity and ease of preparation. And function… oats makes u non constipated.

I can do without desserts because by the time I eat the dish I prepared , I am too full to eat anything else. And also I am too lazy to prepare starters or desserts. Why bother to make an apple crumble with all that cooking and preparing when eating the fruit raw is so easy and nutritious. I find this western style of having sweet dessert where u cook fruits etc with lots of suger is quite laughable.

What is not obvious is that many of the methods of cooking I do, use very little energy to cook. I use very little electricity to cook my meals. It is something that is not highlighted in all the frugal menus that people post. I noticed that many recipes will ask that you stew the meat over the hob, and then put it in a pie to cook some more in the oven, so much over cooking. Or parboil potatoes or carrots or whatever and then still put it in the oven to roast some more. Those foods have been cooked to death.
Or it says simmer for 2hrs… who got the time, and think of all that wasted electricity used.

There was a frugal blogger who said there was a time when she ran out of money for the gas meter, so to cook spaghetti she just boiled water in the kettle and pour it over the spaghetti and cover with lid, and said the spaghetti cooked just the same as cooking it in water kept boiling for the whole time. (just remember to wash the spag in water,hot or cold, depanding on how u want to use the spag; to remove the starch).

She said she had always thought that spaghetti have to be cooked in lots of boiling water for the whole time. The cook books tell you so. Just goes to show people don’t really know how to conserve energy when cooking. Not surprising when u consider the recipe books propagate such wasteful energy practises.

And if u use the ramen, instant noodles, u can do the whole thing in the water that makes the soup. No need to cook the noodles separately in water, and then throw the water away with all the contents of the sachet in it. don’t laugh, I have read it being done that way by bloggers who purport to teach us how they do it.

Also, u can just buy the instant noodles, costing 12p each (used to be 9p) and use half a stock cube to flavour the soup instead of those msg laden sachets that u get with the ramen package costing 40p each.

Here is a link to a recipe by gino d’acampo, a tv chef.

First he boiled his 3 aubergines in 2 litres(!) of water, dry it, and then grill it.
He breaded chicken breast and fried it, and then put it with the aubergine and sauce in an oven to roast.

Boil, and grill, and roast… what did he think his aubergines are made of? That they are alive and hard to kill? Haha.

Chuck everything raw in the pot and roast it all in the oven, I say.

Or cook the breaded breasts separately and pour the sauce over it.no need for the oven really.

Granted that article was written in jan 2010, so maybe he has learnt to use less electricity when he cook now.

shopping for food part 4

22 Apr


This is the third week of my living on £53 a month postings. for the period 16april -22 april.

Cauliflower = 0.69p
15eggs = 1.34p
Frozen brocolli 1kg = £1
sweet peppers =0.59p
Toilet paper12rolls =1.89
Oranges =0.69p
tea biscuits =0.23p
apricot jam =0.79p
Total £7.22

Add to the amount spent so far £25.35 = £32.57

shopping for food part 3

16 Apr

My food shopping for the period 9april – 16april. (2nd week)
This is prompted by Duncan smith the welfare minister saying he can live on £53 a week if he have to. This is to show how I am able to live on £53 a month. i have been doing this for years. 

Ceylon tea 125mg = £1.29
Bread800mgx2 =0.20p
Cocoa powdertesco 250mg =£2.28
peanut butter Tesco 340mg = 0.62p
Brocolli = 0.25
Onions =.50p
Tomatoes (cherry and ordinary) = £1.00
Garlic =0.50p
Carrots = 0.50p
Ginger =0.50p
2.5kg frozen chicken Sainsbury =£4.38

Total £12.02
Last week shopping was £13.33

So amount spent so far £25.35

life is dull on £53? not me

11 Apr

I had a comment from sarah in this post that it is not the living on £53 a week that is difficult, it is the dullness of it. Having to do it day in and day out.

I have been living on £53 a month, (it was much less even a year ago, before prices shot up) and don’t think about it. It is normal to me and I find plenty to whet my appetite and make me enjoy my meals.

I wondered why people say it is dull.

Let me show u a scenario.

I have pork in my fridge. And frozen fish, mince beef, prawns, in my freezer. I have vegetable on the table.

I am feeling peckish.

So I wonder what to eat.

I can stir fry the pork with veg(carrots, onions, brocolli, or another time, cauliflower, or peas or celery or all combinations) , and eat that with rice.
And here I have a vast choice of sauce to go with it…I can make a sweet and sour sauce,(made with just vinegar and suger) plain soya sauce, chilli sauce(with chilli and paprika), curry flavoured sauce, tomato sauce.
It is just playing around with the flavours of sweet, sour, salt , chilli, curry. There are so many combinations and permutations u can never get fed up of it.

I can braise the pork with onions, ginger and garlic and black soya sauce and flavour it with cardamon sticks, cloves, aniseed and eat that with rice. This dish will have a dark appearance

I can make a pork curry , using curry powder, adding extra chilli powder or tumeric with ginger and garlic. And I can make it a dry curry or a wet one. Or might throw in some carrots, potatoes , tomatoes if I have any around. This dish will have a curry appearance

I can make a tomato based pork dish. Using fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, with the 3 herbs that I often use. Cardamon, cloves, aniseed. This dish will have a tomato red appearance

All these dishes will be cooked in the time my rice gets cooked in the rice cooker. About 15mins. 10mins to cook and 5mins to rest when the cooker switches off.

Or I might prefer to have a soup dish.
So in with the pork, and any veg around to make either just a plain soup , or a curry flavoured one,(or put in a piece of coconut solid cream cake for variety‘s sake) or sweet and sour flavoured.

And colour the soup red with tomato ketchup, or brown with soya sauce, or curry coloured, or paprika coloured just for varieties sake.

Then I can decide whether to put the rice in the soup, or noodles. If noodles what type? I can chose from flat noodles, thin vermicelli, or sphagetti noodles, or any of the different types of pasta shapes and use them as noodles.

Or I can decide I shall have a dry dish instead of soup,
So I shall use all the different noodles in a dry form.

Stir fry the pork and any combination and permutations of veg, and sauce and pour over the dry cooked noodles , mix and eat.

You can see I never plan my meals because they are all done at that time. Depanding on what I fancy eating.

None of them take a long time to cook.

And anytime I can throw in prawns, fish, or whatever is around to the pork to supplement it or produce more variety of taste and flavours, or just for the fun of it.

Oh I forgot, I can decide not to do any of the above and just make a fried rice … and throwing in all kinds of combinations .

Fried rice with pork and veg,
Or just pork alone,
Or just rice and egg,
Or whatever is to hand… the list is endless.

Eggs alone has such a lot of variety of ways of cooking that is another huge variety of dishes to chose from.

I havent really gone into other ways of cooking, but there is no need. Surely u can see there is so much variety and permutations it can never be dull.
And that is just using one meat, pork. U can swing the dance with beef, lamb, prawns,etc… chicken, (that is another story , the number of things u can do with a chicken!!)

How can u say it is dull eating?

This is the Chinese way of cooking.

Perhaps if u are cooking it the western way it might be dull. Certainly the western way has not the versatility and speed of the Chinese way.

Though pasta the Italian way, with all the different sauces, is very easy to do.

But perhaps it is not so much the food but the craving for shop bought food. Junk food. That is addictive and that might make people feel they must buy it even though junk food is very cheap and easy to make yourself. Yet, people dont make it themselves. 

shopping for food part 2

9 Apr

My life on less than £53 a week.
As you will know I actually live a life on £53 a month. And don’t feel deprived .

So here is how I do it.
So far I have spent £9.73

Below is my shopping list up to date.
Sultanas 500mg = .98p
Oats 1kg = .75p
Coffee 100mg = .47p
Cauliflower =.40p
gala apples = £1
Total £3.60

Total spend to date £13.33 (first week)

shopping for food

2 Apr

I was on the bus today, doing my marathon shopping.
Today I took the bus to the library to read all the holdiay papers that have accumulated. So much to read, haha. Though I just skimmed through most of them. A lot of the weekend papers are rubbish really. I like the tv guides so many to choose from.

Then I took the bus no 2 to Brixton to get garlic, onions, ginger , and tomatoes. They are all 50p, and I got 8 small tomatoes for that price and 4 garlic bulbs. I think it is the only place to get such cheap tomatoes.

Then took the bus 196 which meandered to Vauxhall before going to elephant and castle. Next time I shall take the 133 instead.
On the bus I saw a woman with 4 boys, and she was producing bottle after bottle of fizzy red drinks to them.

Simon just came into the bedroom where I am , typing this, carrying a bowl of beef stew which he made at first on the slo cooker, but it was too slow so he finished it off in the pressure cooker.

He asked if it tasted funny. Does it taste metallic?. Well I tasted it and it was fine.

And the beef were cooked nicely tender. He asked me if I want it as he can get another bowl, so I now have this nice stew sitting on the bed next to me.

I am certainly glad he is not going to throw it away. At first I thought the beef had gone bad, but no. its fine.

I do like beef, it is a meat I don’t buy at all, as it has become very expensive and I can never find them at the reduced price low enough to entice me to buy. But simon gets it from his mother, who get to buy them cheap in Essex. It seems she is still able to get them cheap. Here in my local supermarket, it is nigh impossible to get anymore.

Added. i just realise that simon also cooks and i do eat what he cooks. however, he eats what i cook too, so i guess it evens out. he has a bigger appetite than me. 

She buys so much that there is no room in her freezer, hence simon being able to get them to bring back here. Haha.

But back to my shopping and observation of this family with the fizzy drinks. One of the kids was shaking the bottle to make it fizz, and then opening it and putting his mouth on the opening and letting the fizz rise up for him to swallow.

It must be fun for the child, though I think it is a bad habit to inculcate in the child. The parent don’t realise it but she is storing trouble for herself and her brood. First it will be very expensive to keep up with this habit. Once u got the kids liking fizzy drinks no way will u be able to get them to drinking plain water. And the suger diet will give them health problems in later life. And the acid will erode their teeth. All in all, lots of future trouble.

But I wonder whether that is why so many of these mothers say they cannot cope with food. If they spend it on these fizzy drinks no wonder they don’t have any for meat and veg.

The kid who was shaking the bottle all the time was fat, but the other 3 were slim.

Anyway I changed to the bus no 53 at elephant and castle and that took me to the aldi where I brocolli, leeks, carrots for 49p each. It was part of their 6 value promotions which they change. I like this promotion. there was onions, potatoes and parsnips too. It is the reason why I have been eating lots of veg nowadays.

I think it keeps the other supermarkets along the old kent road on their toes because the asda was also doing a 50p brocolli promotion.

At the asda I bought their pork, which is still £3 a kg. it is the cheapest nowadays. Cant get them for £2.50 anymore. It costs £5.89 for 1.9kg.And I got their ketchup for 28p. It is just tomato puree (u don’t expect real tomatoes for that price, do you?) and vinegar and suger, but I think it is cheaper than buying the puree and is quite nice to have if I fancy some suger in my food. I think the colour makes the food nice looking too.

Colour can be very important. That is why the Chinese use black soya sauce to colour the food. Pork looks very pale and unappetising otherwise. In fact any meat looks awful if u don’t put some colour in it. Either in the form of a curry sauce or black soya sauce or tomato sauce.

I separated the pork into 3 plastic containers and freezed them for the future meals.

I get my bus fare free, otherwise it wont really be economical to shop like this. In the past if I have to pay for the bus the fare would cost £4.40 and that would destroy the price advantage of shopping there.

Brixton is close enough for me to cycle there, in the past when I don’t have a free pass, but it was too far to cycle to the aldi in the old kent road.

I was thinking if Duncan smith needs any advise on how to live on £53 a week, he cannot do better than to follow my blog. Haha.

The whole shopping came to about £9.73.

added. I enter my shopping in finance41 in chrome, and i got a email from them recently saying they are now going to charge or if it is free, it will be limited to 3 entries per day. well, I just entered all the entries for my shopping and it was accepted. so i wonder when they will implement that 3 entry rule. it wont matter if they do, i shall just enter them 3 entries at a time. i wont be doing any food shopping for a week at least. 

Pork 2kg =£5.98
Ginger, garlic, tomatoes, onions @50p each = £2.00p
Ketchup = .28p
Veg brocolli, carrots, leeks @.49p each = £1.47

Total £9.73

live on £53 a week.

1 Apr

I read today in the newspapers that welfare minister Duncan smith said he can live on £53 a week.

This was in response to someone he met who told him that was what he had left over after rent and bills have been paid.

I am glad a politician will stand up and say so. It is easy to live on £53 a week.

In fact, I have been doing so for years and live on less than that. And i live well on that amount. 

The most I have spent on daily living expenses , (food and household expenses etc) is £60 a month. So able to save about £140 of that mythical £50 a week.

The papers are full of lament about the cutting down in size of the social benefits bill by introducing limits to what a person can get on welfare and scolding the govt for doing it. They are mistaken to blame the govt. the social bill is enormous. No country could let it go on like this, increasing continuously.

About time too. If u don’t have a limit u can have people living better on social welfare than working. It should be a safety net not a replacement for work.

Many of those commenting on the article seem very angry about it, and refuse to believe anyone can possibly live on so little. and they will say anyone who says so is lying. not realising that just because they cannot do it is more a sign of how they are failing.

Maybe that is it, no one who spends more now will admit that it can be done for it would then mean they are the ones who are failing. if others can live on less than £50 a week, why can’t they?

Total for last month March was £54.69

Meat £23.30 of which Chicken £9.81 Pork £13.49

Veg £14.48

Fish £1.75

Fruit £2.07

eggs 4.02

shrimp paste £2.95 the previous time i bought this was 6months ago.

milk powder £2.02 . 2x400mg packs. should last me 3months.

Added. 2.4.13 another article , this time interviewing various people who cannot live on it. one said she spent £23 a week on food and still cannot afford to buy meat. i wonder what she spent that amount on… something wrong with her buying. she needs one of those money gurus to teach her. there was a tv program about it, with one person going through a family’s budget and finding lots of savings that the family did not know about. people should see it to learn from it. there is a lot of wasteful buying . anyone who says they cannot afford it, i would say their buying is wasteful.