Welcome to frugal meals and the big frugal healthy meals experiment part 2.
You know last week was a really big challenge. Not the eating healthy thing or the showing off what we eat, but actually calculating everything that we ate to see how much we average at the till. Now that is like torture so I am glad that I don’t own a frugal blog and this is a one off month of experimenting otherwise I will need to pay for a lot of beauty treatments to relax with!
But it is also great fun to see how much you are actually spending, what is costing you the most and where you could easily tighten your budget without feeling guilty about doing so.
I had this conversation with my teen prior to starting week 2. I pointed out that we would be downsizing the chocolate brands this week and you would think I had thrown a brick at his head by the look on his face. He then went to his Dad and asked if he was still getting “skittles” this week. But a promise of taking him out for lunch and that he could still have his chocolate cake soon cheered him up!
What I want to achieve this week with my frugal meals
This week I want to drop my grocery shopping by a minimum of 20%. I am also British living in Portugal so my prices will vary a bit if you live in America but you general principles of eating healthy on a budget and making good choices to save money apply no matter where you live in the world.
Dominic does the weekly grocery shopping but I tagged along this week to check good prices and to see where I could save money.
We do the majority of our shopping at our local Continente supermarket, monthly shop at Makro and then we buy a few bits from the bread lady and the market stall that is on the road on the way home.
We will often eat a lot of vegetables and then whatever is left will be used first the next week so that we have no food waste. Plus a lot of vegetables we buy will do two weeks so we are always saving money where we can. Plus our monthly shopping at Makro will be mainly meat that we can freeze and then get out as we need it!
Here is our shopping bag for the week:
Looking at it now (as I often don’t pay that much attention) I can see that I am spending more than I should be on vegetables. I never noticed before how expensive cauliflower is compared to broccoli or the fact that if a pineapple is not on offer it can end up costing a small fortune. But when it comes to cauliflower and pineapple I find that they will in fact do several meals so they do offer a good value for money in the long run.
For week 2 we have purposely looked at saving money and to make meals stretch past the one meal where possible so that you are getting excellent value for money.
This is how we got on during week 2 of our frugal meals journey:
For day 1 it doesn’t really feel things have changed. We are all for saving money and stretching things out, so we rather enjoy frugal meals. We hate the frugal tips that appear on Pinterest everyday that claim to go frugal = to live off oatmeal for breakfast and then chicken and rice or chicken and pasta for dinner. There is so much more to eating that this and I would die from boredom if this was me.
So here I am with an avocado for breakfast after my morning power walk in the countryside. Note that I mentioned countryside and that I don’t have an overpriced gym membership when I have the free fresh air on offer!!!
Then for lunch Dominic does his delicious Toad In The Hole and it is delicious and served with roast potatoes. As I recall toad in the hole was the favourite war time classic and it is amazing and I can’t believe how cheap it is!
Then for dinner we are being the perfect frugal family by getting through leftovers. Kyle has leftover Moroccan Couscous, I have leftover Egg Pita from last night and Dominic has the last of the bread buns with some cheese that we bought today.
Also our other bread was not very nice that we got from the bread lady and it is too hard and not edible, so this has been made into breadcrumbs and placed in the freezer.
It is day 2 and for breakfast I have some cereal and milk. I am really not a fan of it but when your avocados are not soft it seems like the best option.
Then for lunch it is the turn of some pork steaks with homemade fries and some leeks in a cheese sauce. Very simple to make and very frugal. See you can have steak and chips on a frugal week!!!
Then for dinner we were expecting some bread from the bread lady but she is sold out, which is no big deal as we have plenty of other food to go at. We have courgette fritters and fries for dinner. It costs less than 1,20€ to feed a family of four and they are absolutely delicious.
Then of course it is an evening eating all that lovely chocolate we have in. Well not all of it but some of it!
It is day 3 and today is the day that I am most nervous about. Last week we ate at Pizza Hut and spent just over 32€ and as we want to lose at least 20% of our food bill, the thought that we had to eat out as a family for a max of 26€ seemed like such a big deal and so difficult to do. So after having our usual breakfasts we headed out for lunch at one of our favourite cafes with a mission planned.
We each had one of the two meals of the day.
Kyle and I had a tuna salad with some fries. It was huge with a layer of vegetables on the bottom with loads of tuna and salad bits. I would go as far as to say that it was the best tuna salad I have ever eaten! And of course I am not a perfect Paleo follower so it had to come with fries.
Dominic had the pork with mushrooms in a creamy sauce with rice, fries and salad.
We then followed this up with some homemade cake and a drink each.
Then when the bill came…..and it was just 25,50€ I felt so proud that I had hit my target and that you CAN eat out on a budget.
We then had a lovely time relaxing in the park in the Portuguese sunshine thinking how well we had eaten and enjoying some family team.
Then in the evening, I made some lovely sweet and sour pork with noodles. It is a lovely frugal meal for leftover pork and you can also cook it rather quickly especially if you have your family in the kitchen cooking it with you.
Its hard to believe that one pack of pork steaks (that were on offer) which cost 1.63€ have done a lovely meal for two of steak and fries along with a further family meal of sweet and sour pork!
It is day 4 of our frugal family meals challenge and I always push the boat out on a Sunday. So how do you push the boat out and still save money?
For breakfast I have some more pineapple and some avocado. I like to eat avocados everyday but mine are a little hard so I am impatiently waiting for them to go soft.
Then for lunch we have some vegetables with pasta and alfredo sauce. Very nice and very quick to make and the perfect lunch!
Well in my mind it has to be something that stretches but still reflects Sunday family cooking = pie and mash. For the pie it is chicken and vegetables with one chicken breast, plenty of shortcrust pastry (homemade of course) with some stock from the chicken. We then served it with cauliflower mash and it was a lovely filling meal.
It was then followed up with some pineapple cake using some of the big pineapple that we purchased from the supermarket.
It is day 5 of our frugal family meals challenge and it is now Monday. For breakfast I have some more pineapple, what can I say I love fresh pineapple and when we get a big one it always does breakfast and goes into plenty of meals as well.
For lunch we have some Roasted Spanish Chicken (with the thighs, wings and drumsticks from yesterdays chicken) and loads of Spanish vegetables, tomatoes and seasoning.
It is delicious and if this is frugal, then I want it all the time!
[Tweet “Discover the art of #frugalmeals as the Milner’s decide to put it to the test @recipe_this”]
For dinner I have a pepper omelette using up an old pepper that we have in. Dominic & Kyle have some tapas biscuits loaded with soft cheese and sliced tomatoes.
For the first time we are feeling the pinch because we don’t want to buy any more bread to keep our costs down so it is that “thinking outside the box” idea in order to keep the costs down.
Only two days left and we are looking forward to what is still to come.
It is day 6 and I am wondering what my Grandma would have said to me if she was still around today?
Probably to make good use out of the bags of flour, the butter and of course the eggs to make something delicious. I already have plans for food today but I may well take her advice when it comes to day 7!
For breakfast today it is more pineapple, while the boys have their typical cereals for breakfast that they always have.
Then for lunch we have some lemon chicken with some vegetable cauliflower rice. Another delicious lunch and I am finding that because we are not just turning to bread and sandwiches all the time that we are in fact eating healthier because we have less money available for the processed foods that many of us eat on a daily basis.
Then in the evening (with the kids in the kitchen helping me) we make some delicious creamy pasta with some spare vegetables. Another lovely meal and we are all super full from all the pasta.
It is day 7 and the final day of the challenge.
For breakfast I have granola with some Greek yoghurt and I am amazed by how nice it is as I have never had it before!
Then for lunch it is the frugal persons dream = homemade bolognese pizza. The base is homemade as is the toppings and it feels great to have something for such little money that will stretch to feed us for lunch and for dinner tonight.
When you look at the ingredients that go into a pizza base it is so cheap it would make a great regular meal with your kids where they can get involved in the cooking process and understand the value of money.
For the toppings for the evening pizza it is a simple perfection. Garlic bread with cheese. I have gone to food heaven and I can’t believe the cost of this. We have made (well Dominic did) one lot of pizza dough. It then fed us for lunch and for dinner, so that makes six portions in total and we only put bolognese on the first pizza and then enjoyed garlic bread with the second!
Download My Frugal Week
You can also get the food diary that we used to do this frugal meals experiment. Via my infographic below you can see exactly what food we purchased and the meals we had during our frugal week.
We spent a grand total of 80.89€/$88.97 this week on food including eating out. This is as a family of four and a big vegetable addiction. We ate fresh with very little processed foods and showed that to be frugal you don’t have to live off chicken and rice everyday and oats for breakfast for it to happen.
This was a frugal week that I would call “not even trying” and we knocked off 27% off our typical weekly shopping bill. We have had some amazing meals and it has felt that we have lived like kings!
Imagine what we could achieve if we actually tried!
I also consider us to be fairly frugal to begin with. We chase supermarket deals, we buy very little branded products and we are not huge eaters so for us to drop our grocery shopping by this amount is fantastic!!!
The Grocery Shopping List
You can read more about what we ate and all the meals we had via the grocery shopping list below: