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tins can be a great way to get healthier food into your life without spending lots of money on fresh produce that goes out of date every week.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



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! 🍕


money gif.gif

We Ate Like Students For One Week in Our Mid-Twenties. It Was Pretty Grim. | #ThisGirlEats

Times are tough, guys. I’m skint. You’re probably skint too. Affording food has become somewhat of a ridiculous luxury. Spending £50 on fresh ingredients every week makes my foodie heart very happy, but leaves my bank balance severely unimpressed.

broke dude.gif

In order to cut costs, my boyfriend suggested a break from creating blog-friendly food for a week (HOW VERY DARE HE?!) and make a “student” shopping list. Unlike myself, he’s never actually lived a student lifestyle, so I was given the task of creating a shopping list to feed us both, three meals a day, for a week, for £25. I did it – but how did he cope with our budget banquet? And how did we feel after a week living like students in our mid-20s?

First, I’ll give you a little run down of what we actually ate for the week:

Day 1
Bowl of porridge made with water
Jam sandwich, packet of crisps, cereal bar, last week’s grapes
Frozen pizza, oven chips, baked beans

Day 2
Bowl of porridge made with water
Wrap made with whatever I could find in the fridge (some slightly out of date veggies), cereal bar, and an orange
Went to a student pub with some mates and ordered a “Burger and a Pint” meal deal from the menu

Day 3
Bowl of porridge made with water
Another leftover “whatever was in the fridge” wrap, packet of crisps, cereal bar, and an orange
Frozen pizza, oven chips, baked beans

Day 4
Bowl of porridge made with water
Chocolate spread sandwich, packet of crisps, cereal bar, and an orange
Small takeaway pizza for one, using a (fake) student discount code

Day 5
Bowl of porridge made with water
Chocolate spread sandwich, packet of crisps, cereal bar, and an orange
Plate of chips at Spoons (£2.99, what a bloody bargain)
Frozen microwave ready meal – chicken & bacon pasta bake – bought from the reduced section of the supermarket

Day 6
Bowl of soup
Another microwave ready meal – sweet and sour chicken this time

Day 7
Beans on toast

How did I feel after eating this? Malnourished. Tired. Gross. Oh, so gross… I’m not sure I even managed five a week, let alone a day, and I’ve consumed more bland, processed, souless food this week than I have in a long, loooong time. I’m not proud of myself.

ryan gosling

There are a few plus points to eating like a student again – it’s cheap, it’s quick, it gave me more time to get other stuff done and, yeah, eating pizza midweek is kinda fun. For a day. Maybe two.

But feeling like a sad microwave meal or beans on toast are your ONLY options is a bit disheartening. For a food lover, someone who loves being in the kitchen, having no tools to work with left me at a bit of a loss. I felt like I was doing absolutely nothing in terms of therapeutic stress relief, let alone for my health!

How did my boyfriend get on? Well, to be completely honest, I don’t think he really noticed. He wasn’t a fan of the tasteless breakfasts and he practically begged me to never get a block of value cheese again but, at the end of the day, as long as a plate of food is in front of him and we never run out of coffee, he’s happy.

I think he’d get on alright as a student. Me? It was great at the time – about four years ago! – but these days all I want is an hour to myself in the evening to prepare and eat fresh, tasty food. Now, hand me the avocados!