January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 4

or: How I fed Two People for a Week for £15.41.

In January I decided to do a no spend challenge for the month. There were a few reasons for this 

  • I needed a new challenge to try 
  • My goal for this year is a financial one
  • January is the quietest month in terms of birthdays and events 
  • I needed something to kickstart a frugal mindset that I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.

We spent the first three weeks working our way through what remained in the fridge, freezer and cupboards following Christmas, supplementing it with a shop of fresh groceries each week. Once the three weeks was over we had managed to work our way through quite a lot, including the staples of pasta, rice, frozen chicken and fish, tins of chopped tomatoes etc.

By week 4 I knew we would have to do a much larger shop, but I wanted to challenge myself even further. Inspired by the YouTube budget eating challenges from June from Budget Eats and Atomic Shrimp, I wanted to buy an entire weeks worth of groceries for as little as possible and eat just what I had purchased.

The Rules

  • Our budget was £15.00 for the week, which worked out at just over £1.07 per person, per day. 
  • The only food we could consume was food we bought specifically for the challenge – we couldn’t eat any of the food left in the cupboards (which were all non-perishables and minimal after the previous three weeks).
  • We both had to eat three meals every day – we weren’t allowed to skip meals or have a snack instead of a full meal.
  • The food we bought had to have a fairly high nutritional content – ie. buying 20 packets of ramen and living off that for a week wasn’t allowed. 
  • We were allowed to use the free condiment packets and mini tubs that we have collected from various places that have been sitting in our fridge. 
  • We were allowed to use water from the tap and energy (gas and electricity) for the oven, kettle, blender and microwave. 
  • We weren’t allowed to steal (not that we would, but it is worth making it clear). 
  • The budget was for food only – this didn’t include any cleaning products like washing up liquid or cloths. 

What I Bought

Armed with a whole bunch of shopping bags I ventured out to see what I could find. I had mapped out a meal plan, worked out the ingredient list and researched the general prices of groceries in each supermarket, but I was also open to hunting for any bargains that might appear along the way. Aldi was by far the cheapest, and after checking out the reduced price sections in each of the other supermarkets on my local high street I ended up buying all of my groceries from there. 

This is what I bought:

Total: £15.41 – Not bad! I went slightly over budget but only by 41p.

It’s worth noting that I allowed myself several treats – the eggs were free range, and the beef and turkey mince were fresh. These are all areas where I know I could have saved further money, but chose not to. 

Added to this we also had a selection of condiment packets and tubs. This included several mini pots of jam, golden syrup and honey, pepper, white and demerara sugar, sweetner, coffee, milk, 1 sachet of tomato ketchup and 2 sachets of salad cream.

Meal Planning

When planning out my meals I had to consider what food was perishable, what could be frozen and how many meals I needed to make with the same ingredients. I amended my theoretical plan that I had made before I went food shopping and decided to see how it would go.

What We Ate

Breakfast: Toast with jam – The Bloke took his to work with him with a small pat of butter instead of jam.
Lunch: Salad wraps. The Bloke also took a banana to work.
Dinner: Turkey meatball + vegetable soup. I made the turkey meatballs using half the fresh turkey mince and 1 egg, and before adding them to the soup I split the batch in half (there was a lot) for leftovers to use for lunch the next day.

Breakfast: Crumpets with butter and jam – The Bloke had the second jam, I had butter.
Lunch: Vegetable soup leftovers. I had a slice of toast and The Bloke took a banana to work too.
Dinner: Turkey pasta bake. I fried the remaining half of the turkey mince, combined it with 2 small chopped onions, some passata, a sachet of pepper, added it to the cooked pasta, topped with half the mozzarella and baked under the grill.

Breakfast: Toast with butter and The Bloke had the remaining 2 crumpets with honey.
Lunch: Tuna pasta salad. I combined half a tin of tuna with a sachet of salad cream, and added it to a small chopped salad and cooked pasta. The Bloke took a banana with him to work.
Dinner: Tortilla wrap pizza with jacket potatoes and salad. I covered a tortilla wrap with passata, a chopped onion and the remaining mozzarella and put it under the grill for a minute until everything had melted and served with a chopped salad.

Breakfast: Smoothie – made with the smoothie mix.
Lunch: Tuna wraps. The Bloke took a banana with him to work too.
Dinner: Spanish inspired omelette – I chopped some tomatoes, 1/2 a pepper and a small onion, boiled and chopped a large potato and fried them off in a pan, beat 3 eggs and poured over the top, then placed it under the grill until the top had browned. I served it with some green beans.

Breakfast: Smoothie – made with the smoothie mix.
Lunch: Vegetable soup – The Bloke took a banana with him to work too. I was going to use the remaining soup for leftovers but I ended up eating it all!
Dinner: Hasselback potatoes with roasted vegetables.

Breakfast: I had toast with butter. The Bloke had 2 fried eggs on toast.
Lunch: Jacket potatoes with the tin of spaghetti hoops
Dinner: Spaghetti bolognaise. I used half the beef mince, some passata and added a chopped onion.

Breakfast: Smoothie – made with the smoothie mix
Lunch: A simple salad with the remaining leftovers – 1/3 cucumber, last of the lettuce chopped lettuce (except for some leaves), 1/2 pepper, grated carrot, some cherry tomatoes etc.
Dinner: Beef lettuce burgers with scalloped potatoes and broccoli. I had saved the lettuce leaves and kept them refrigerated separately to use for the burgers.

At the end of the week I had a little bit of pasta, some passata, 3 onions, a carrot, butter, a few potatoes and some frozen broccoli and frozen green beans, so I could have made a meal or two more for us both.

Generally, I’m happy with how it went. It was quite heavy on the carbs and there wasn’t a massive amount of variety in what I made, but lots of it was using fresh and healthy ingredients. We both ate three meals a day, there wasn’t a point where I was hungry, but I did experience quite a big sugar craving towards the end of the week.

Total spend: £15.41

Total saved based on average spending: £24.59

Other spending

We also had a show at the theatre so we spent £10.50 on parking. 

Other savings – to see my full list of savings visit my week 1 blog post here as the level of spending is the same.

Money saved on food with no takeaways, meals out, breakfast deliveries or weekend lunch: £62.00

Total spend: £25.91

Total savings: £86.59

Total spend for the month by the end of the challenge: £97.28

Total saved based on average spending by the end of the challenge: £397.42

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6 thoughts on “January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 4

  1. If I did what you did, I’d probably be able to eat for a couple of months out of my cupboard and freezer. I sort of did that back in March, April, and May of 2020 during the first few months of the pandemic. I totally isolated and polished off most of what was in the cupboard and about half of what was in the freezer before the first outing to replenish.

  2. Hello Suzie. It’s been such a long time since we’ve been in touch and I rarely go onto Twitter these days and you were there and I was like “Wow”. It was great to see you. I scaled back my blogging quite a lot last year to focus on a WWI research project which ballooned into three projects and each one is massive and intimidating so I’m having a breather and went back to my Irish meanderings when I wound up in a bookshop in Midleton, county Cork and of all the places for me to stumble across, I find a bookshop. Curious, I checked out their website and although I’m trying very hard to cull back our books, I felt this magnetic attraction to a book by Michael Harding: The Cloud Where the Birds Rise, with illustrations by Jacob Stack. I don’t know whether you have heard of Michael Harding but I think you’d like him. Here’s a post I wrote which has a few links: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/02/19/irish-author-michael-harding-midleton-bookshop-ireland/?wref=tp
    How have you fared during Covid? I hope you’ve been well. We’ve been fine here but had very long lockdowns and my husband and I lying very low.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Best wishes,

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