Supermarket Essentials for a Basic Budget Shopping List | #ThisGirlEats

I’ve always shopped on a budget and learnt to create tasty, nutritious meals out of pretty basic ingredients. For many, working out how to feed yourself and your family well when money is tight can be a real nightmare.

I’m going to share which ingredients I’ve always made a beeline for in three of the most essential spots in the supermarket to keep my costs down. Hopefully this will help you in creating a shopping list full of basic, adaptable ingredients for the least amount of money possible!

Tins, glorious tins

Honestly, if your cupboard is fully stocked with tins you can’t go wrong. There’s definitely some kitchen snobbery around tinned food but the fact it’s cheaper, more widely accessible and very convenient for quick, basic cooking.

Just because your food comes out of a tin doesn’t mean you have to miss out on basic nutrition; tins can be a great way to get healthier food into your life without spending lots of money on fresh produce that goes out of date every week. And don’t forget, some of the nation’s favourite foods – soups, baked beans, and even fish – are commonly found in tins! 

Chopped tomatoes. The most cost-effective and essential basis of so, so many meals.
Beans. Black beans, kidney beans, baked beans – they all count as one of your five-a-day!
Soup. With a chunk of delicious crusty bread, soup is the perfect winter warmer.
Potatoes. Tinned potatoes are pre-peeled (YAY!) and only take five minutes to cook – stir through some butter and mixed herbs, you’d never know the difference.
Mixed vegetables. The most convenient way to get your five-a-day.
Peaches. Tinned fruit usually sits in syrup which whacks up the sugar, but hey, it’s still fruit! Drain them off and enjoy some sliced peaches for a fraction of the cost.
Lentils. Tinned lentils can be used just like beans to bulk up meals as they’re super filling and nutritious. 

Jack Monroe’s ‘Tin Can Cook’ is a great read for inspiring, delicious recipes made from tinned food

Eat your vegetables

You might want more variety than the tinned aisle can offer, or simply prefer fresh fruit and veggies – and that’s fine! But the problem for many of us is that these ingredients can be more expensive. 

However, if you know where to look you’ll find plenty of low-cost options. I’ve picked up some right bargains before, and most fruit and vegetables that regularly make my shopping list are cheap, versatile crowd-pleasers.

With fruit, you can usually find decent-sized bags of apples, pears, bananas, peaches, nectarines and oranges for under £1 but, if you’re trying to save money, you’ll probably want to avoid melons and berries as these are often the most expensive fruits on the shelves.

With vegetables, you can stock up on carrots, onions, lettuce, cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes, mushrooms, cabbage and parsnips without breaking the bank; however, you might want to think twice about avocados (I know they’re technically a fruit but whatever), celeriac, sweet potatoes and sugar snap peas because of their price tag.


For the carnivores

I don’t eat meat myself anymore – one of the reasons being it’s too expensive! – but it was part of my regular shopping list for years, so I know what it’s like to hunt down the cheapest cuts in the supermarket.

Buying meat does tend to hike up the price of your shop but, for some, it’s part of their diet that does need to be catered for. Unfortunately, most cheaper options are the least healthy, being higher in fat or more “processed”; however, if you look after yourself you can still work these ingredients into a healthy diet.

I always had three main meats that got me through the week and still stayed within my budget.

1. Sausages. A staple of working class diets for donkey’s years, and with good reason. Sausages are reliable family favourites and you can pick up sizable portions for very little – especially if you venture down the frozen aisle.
2. Mince. Is there a more wonderfully versatile thing than a pack of mince? It’s much cheaper than other cuts of beef and can go into endless meals – a winning combo!
3. Chicken thighs. Chicken is one of the UK’s most popular meats, but it can be pricey. Chicken thighs give the best bang for your buck, and are more flavoursome than other cuts too.

Sausage Party / giphy



5 Great Tips on How to Cut Down Supermarket Spending | #ThisGirlEats

Lots of people said they found one of my recent posts about saving money on our weekly shop pretty helpful (‘We Cut Down Our Family Food Shop to £25 Per Week – And Now There’s No Looking Back! Here’s How…‘) which is, obviously, bloomin’ awesome!

So I thought I’d follow it up (sort of) with a few little tips and tricks on exactly how we stick to our shopping budget. I touched on a few things here in the previous post, but hopefully this goes into a little more detail and is useful enough to perhaps give you one or two ideas on how to save a few extra quid on your own food shop.

Make full use of scan ‘n’ go.

Many supermarkets now offer an in-store system where you pick up a little handset and scan the items yourself as you shop, then simply connect the scanner to a till at the end of your shop and pay the total.

As well as being super quick and convenient, this fairly new way of shopping can really help you save money. As you scan the item, its price will show on the screen and you can keep an eye on the total cost of your trolley as you go. This can be incredibly useful if you’re trying to be mindful of how much you’re spending and can stop you going over budget. We all know how easy it is to just pull things off the shelves and end up spending way more than planned, so these scan and go systems are a pretty handy tool.


Stay away from the reduced section, unless you have lots of willpower.

This might sound like an unusual one. It’s fair to say the reduced section of the supermarket does have some great price cuts and if you stumble across a good bargain then it’s well worth it.

But the problem with the reduced section is that it also persuades us to buy things we don’t really need. I don’t think I’ve ever been lucky enough to find anything from my shopping list hidden in the reduced section, but I have found plenty of other tempting treats lurking there, like half price ready meals and cream cakes. That’s all well and good, but if you’re looking to keep costs at a minimum you’re likely to be swayed into spending unnecessary pennies in this aisle so, unless you’ve got tremendous willpower, I’d say you’re better off just steering clear altogether.

Don’t forget about the world food aisle.

You might think that going for supermarket value brands is always going to be the cheapest options and, in the majority of cases, you’d be right. But there are a few ingredients you can actually pick up at a cheaper price if you just check out the world food aisle.

Black beans, for example, are 65p in ASDA if you go for the supermarket brand. However, in the world food section you’ll find a tin of Sammy’s Black Beans exactly the same size for 50p. Again, 400ml of ASDA coconut milk will cost you 79p whereas 400ml of Caribbean Choice coconut milk comes in at just 63p. This isn’t the case with every product, but it’s a similar story in most major supermarkets and is worth having a look to save some extra money. Check on comparison websites ( is always a good shout!) to find the cheapest option before you shop.

Be careful bulk buying fruit and vegetables.

Large, prepackaged bags of onions, potatoes, apples, bananas, etc. can seem quite good value for money, and that’s because they often are. If you quite regularly use fresh ingredients when you cook, or your family eat quite a lot of one particular fruit or veg, buying in bulk is great value for money.

But be careful with this. If you only need one or two portions of a certain fruit or vegetable, it’s probably worth just picking up exactly what you need. It might not strike you as the best value option at first, but think about whether you’re going to actually eat it all. If it’s going to go off and get thrown out, then that’s the absolute opposite of saving money. Basically, the advice here is if you’re using a large quantity of a particular produce then buy in bulk but, if you’re not, just pick up what you need from the loose fruit and veg crates so nothing goes to waste.


Don’t buy so much meat!

I’m not just saying this as a veggie – I’m saying this as someone who only turned veggie because they literally couldn’t afford to buy meat! Even without taking anything else like ethics or the environment into consideration, you’ve got to admit that cutting down on meat will almost always equal cutting down on costs.

Even if you don’t go full-on veggie, you can always just consider making some swaps here and there to save a few pennies. For example, in ASDA (I’m using this supermarket again because it’s my local), 500g of even the cheapest, fattiest mince costs £1.89, while a 454g packet of their own brand meat-free mince costs only £1.50 and has waaay less fat in it (500g of leaner, lower fat mince ranges from £2.28 to £3.31!). Also, you can get 6 Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets (approx. 300g) for £1.70, whereas 250g of actual chicken mini fillets costs £1.99. See, we’re not just pushing an agenda – it really can save you money!


We Cut Down Our Family Food Shop to £25 Per Week – And Now There’s No Looking Back! Here’s How… | #ThisGirlEats

When we first moved out, our shopping habits were totally different. We’d buy around a fortnight’s worth of stuff in one go, purchase nice (but unnecessary) products, and spend just short of £100 each time.

When you break it down, that isn’t too bad. The ONS (Office of National Statistics) shows the average household spends £56.80 per week on a shopping. So £100 for two weeks, feeding two adults everyday and a child on weekends and including non-food household items (cleaning, toilet roll, etc.), is pretty good.

giphy (2)

But, for us, it wasn’t good enough. We were struggling. Money was tighter than ever and neither of us could afford the £100 hit.

We made cutbacks, stayed home a lot and got a credit card to help us out, but still we were skint.

I’ve always been in charge of the shopping and knew had to start making some serious savings on our food shop.

Nowadays we shop weekly, and limit ourselves to £25 per week. That still feeds two adults and one child on weekends, provides three meals a day, and includes lots of fresh, home-cooked food. It’s not always easy to squeeze it all in, but we’ve managed for about a year and really noticed the difference. Now, we…

  • Mostly stick to cheap supermarket and value brands.
  • Aways use price comparison sites beforehand to find the lowest cost items.
  • Jot down meal plans a week in advance to limit impulse buys.
  • Think of low-cost ingredients for multiple meals  – lentils and tortilla wraps feed us for several lunches and dinners in the list below, for example.
  • Cut out “luxuries” – things that can be swapped for cheaper alternatives or just lived without altogether – which includes orange juice, chocolate biscuits and grapes. Yes, we really do consider these things luxury products!

One of the biggest changes was to also remove meat from our list entirely. We started by cutting down but realised we didn’t need meat; that money could be much better spent. It cut costs drastically, but also resulted in my boyfriend becoming a vegetarian. It’s been a full-on lifestyle change in many ways.

Just to prove that it can be done, and to perhaps give you some ideas if you’re looking to cut back on food shop spending, I’ve listed one week’s meal plans and the exact shopping list that accompanied it below.


Lunch: Sandwiches, snack, fruit, cereal bars
Dinner: Cheese and spring onion crisp bakes, new potatoes, salad
(shopping list – bread, fruit, savoury snack, cereal bars, frozen crisp bakes, new potatoes, salad)


Lunch: Noodle snack pot
Dinner: Lentil and vegetable curry
(shopping list – noodle snack pots, lentils, onion, chopped tomato, mushroom, peppers; already have stock cubes and rice for the curry)


Lunch: Leftover lentil curry
Dinner: Pasta with onion and mushroom in a tomato sauce
(shopping list – pasta, onion, mushroom, passata)

Lunch: Leftover pasta
Dinner: Sweet chilli halloumi, pepper and salad wraps
(shopping list – tortilla wraps, sweet chilli sauce, halloumi cheese, pepper, salad)

Lunch: Leftover wraps
Dinner: Lentil bolognese
(shopping list – lentils, chopped tomato, onion, mushroom, spaghetti, cheese)


Lunch: Beans on toast
Dinner: Tortilla pizzas with veggie toppings and side salad
(shopping list – baked beans, bread, cheese, tortilla wraps, passata, mozzarella, mushroom, pepper)

Lunch: Soup
Dinner: Bean, chickpea and pepper stew
(shopping list – soup, kidney beans, chickpeas, pepper, chopped tomatoes)


ASDA Farm Store Apples (500g) – 59p
ASDA Chosen by Kids Easy Peelers (500g) – 89p
ASDA Fine Cut Salad (230g) – 65p
ASDA Farm Store Brown Onions (1kg) – 75p
ASDA Grower’s Selection Cooking Peppers (700g) – £1.45
ASDA Farm Store White Mushrooms (250g) – 54p
ASDA Grower’s Selection Baby Potatoes (1kg) – 80p

ASDA Grated Mild Mozzarella (250g) – £1.77 (2 for £3)
ASDA Half Fat Mature Grated British Cheese (250g) – £1.77 (2 for £3)
ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Fruit Yogurts (x6) – 54p
ASDA 30% Less Fat Halloumi (225g) – £1.66

ASDA Medium Sliced Wholemeal Bread (800g) – 55p
ASDA White & Wheat Tortillas (x8) – 89p

ASDA Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce, Reduced Sugar & Salt (x4) – 98p
ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g, x3) – 84p (28p each)
ASDA Smartprice Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g) – 30p
ASDA Lentil Soup (400g) – 45p
ASDA Spicy Tomato Soup (400g) – 45p
ASDA Chickpeas in Water (400g) – 33p
ASDA Smartprice Chocolate & Nut Muesli Bars (x6) – 70p
ASDA Wholewheat Penne (500g) – 45p
ASDA Wholewheat Spaghetti (500g) – 45p
ASDA Smartprice Passata (500g, x2) – 70p (35p each)
ASDA Dried Red Lentils (500g) – £1.15
Batchelors Super Noodles Chicken (75g) – 50p
Batchelors Super Noodles Sweet Chilli (75g) – 50p
ASDA Sweet Chilli Sauce (200ml) – £1
ASDA BBQ Rice Cakes (125g) – 85p

ASDA Smartprice Instant Coffee Granules (100g) – 74p
ASDA Smartprice Teabags (x40) – 39p
ASDS Smartprice Apple & Blackcurrant Squash Double Strength with No Added Sugar (750ml) – 38p
ASDA Smartprice Soya UHT Unsweetened (1l, x2) – £1.18 (59p each)

ASDA Vegetarian Cheese & Spring Onion Crispbakes (2x) – £1

TOTAL: £25.65

(Original list included tinned new potatoes for 59p but these were unavailable so swapped for a bag of baby potatoes)

Great UK Chain Restaurants to Eat Out on a Dime | #ThisGirlEats

Home cooking is great but, sometimes, you just fancy going out and letting someone else do all the hard work. Of course, it’s a nice treat to go to a posh restaurant and experience some exquisite food but, in reality, that isn’t always an option – especially for those of us whose bank balance simply won’t allow it!

But there are ways around it, and these are just a few ideas for when you want to get out of the house for dinner but can’t splash the cash.

eating edit


You might sneer at this budget pub chain, but if you’re watching the pennies then you’re never too good for the ‘Spoons. Alright, so the food is “what you pay for”; it’s not gourmet fine dining but it certainly tastes alright. You can get some great meal deals that include a drink too, making it easy to get a big plate of pub grub and a pint for under a tenner right on your doorstep. It might not be your perfect idea of a night out but they’re not all bad – check out this one set in a beautiful old church!

ASK Italian or Bella Italia

Italian restaurants are some of the most popular in the UK, with pizza and pasta dishes being a staple favourite for most. There are plenty of well-known chain restaurants on the high street which serve this kind of food, all pretty similar – but these two are great ones to bear in mind. Sign up to their websites and they send you offers every single week. You’ll actually get a bit bombarded, 25% off here, BOGOF there… But if you can put up with the emails then you’ll get some brilliant deals that can really slash the cost of a romantic evening.


Welcome to family fun! Harvester is a busy, bustling British chain that caters to families with their extensive menu and delicious sundae bar, but it’s often overlooked because of how jam-packed it can get at popular times, and that can put people off. But avoid the school holidays and pop in for a midweek dinner and you’ll find generous portions at great prices along with a salad bar where you can stock up as much as you like totally free of charge! The food isn’t half bad either and, hey, who says sundaes are just for kids?! 🍨

Dessert Parlours (Creams, Kaspas, etc.)

Places like Creams and Kaspas have absolutely exploded over the past couple of years, with the 1950s American ice cream parlour making its way into the cultural dining of the UK – only 60 years late! 🍦 They are completely indulgent and the desserts are incredible but, the best thing is, they end up being pretty affordable. You can get HUGE waffles, piled high with chunky toppings, cream and ice cream that leave you totally stuffed for under £10. You may think it’s just a little sweet treat but, believe me, you’ll be in a food coma for hours!

Pizza Hut

Grabbing a big, tasty pizza and some tempting sides is great, especially when it’s delivered right to your door, but you’re often looking upwards of £20 to do just that. Pizza Hut is one of the few takeaway pizza chains in the UK to offer table service and, if you can make it there for a weekday lunch, they put on a great buffet deal that can save you some serious dollar. From as little as £6.99 you can help yourself to as much pizza, pasta, garlic bread and salad as you like. Just buy a refillable soft drink to wash it down with and you’ve got yourself a bargain! 🍕


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