As the cost of living continues to see shoppers tighten the purse strings, many have been looking for budget recipes and ways to cut down on their weekly shop - including switching from brands to supermarket own ranges.
Many head into the stores armed with a list, a trolley and the best intentions, but get to the checkout only to have still gone over budget. But one couple say they’ve found a way to eat three meals a day - plus snacks - for just £30 a week.
Craig Harker, 36, and partner Rochelle Fairley, 29, would usually spend around £30 on a takeaway order for one meal, but have been trying out an inflation-busting challenge which sees them cook all their meals from scratch - and say they’ll never buy one particular item again.
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The couple went on a trolley dash in their local Asda and Aldi stores and spent a total of £30.80 over both shops, and food blogger Craig – who completes eating challenges for the entertainment of his legion of online fans – reckons he saved around £400 on his weekly food costs over time by avoiding fast food.
The pair even lost a stone between them in weight during the seven day challenge, which saw them eat 21 meals at an average cost of just over £1 per meal.
Craig, of Stockton-on-Tees, said: “It felt good, I think it brought us together because we were cooking together every day. I’ve probably saved more than £400 because I wasn’t buying fast food every day.
“We bought everything from Aldi or the essentials range. I’ll never buy Heinz Ketchup again, Asda’s essentials version is actually nicer.”
They loaded their cupboards with Asda’s Essentials range and raided Aldi’s shelves for the best bargains. They stocked up on meats, rice and vegetables and made their budget stretch by buying tins of soups, rice pudding and peach slices.
Craig then cooked delicious recipes for his family to enjoy, including spaghetti bolognese, Chinese sticky pork and chicken curry. He shared online to help people struggling to budget and to inspire creative ways to economise during the cost of living crisis.
And they even had food left over at the end of the week.
He added: “As a food blogger, I eat fast food every day, or I’ll eat at a restaurant or a takeaway. With the cost of living crisis and the way everything is going, I thought up this challenge of using the cost of a takeaways for days.
“It wasn’t to show that it can be done – because everybody can budget if they try – but I wanted to show how you can still have good quality meals within that budget. We were still having big, hearty portions, we still had big meals.
“It’s been a good week, we’ve been able to do it, but people shouldn’t have to live like that. Hopefully we can help give people some tips and they can use them to help budget and make the most of their food.”
Father-of-three Craig, who runs food blog Dad Loves Food alongside owning The George Pub and Grill in his hometown, lost 9lb over the course of the week. His partner, Rochelle, lost 5lbs.
An average day of eating for Craig normally would consist of a full English breakfast, a packet of biscuits with a brew, a burger for lunch and dinner from a fast food chain, like McDonalds or KFC.
But after he spent the week committed to his shoestring budget, he has developed a new found love of porridge. He even dreamt up creative snacks while not wasting any of his food.
He added: “We cut out chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks. For the first couple of days we felt hungry and fancied a snack. So we cut the crust of a slice of bread, spread jam over and rolled it up and put it in the frying pan and we had mini swiss rolls.”
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