Could you, or would you swap your weekly shop for all-organic produce with a budget of £83 to play with? Well that was the #ThriftyOrganic challenge thrown my way to promote the Organic Trade Board’s Organic. Naturally Different campaign.
Excluding alcohol, the Office of National Statistics data puts the average food spend for a family of 4 at £83 (not including alcohol or household items). I made the switch to shopping exclusively at Lidl last year when money got tight, and spending £83 there will get me not only my food shop, but wine AND household items like loo roll, dishwasher tablets and dog food.
However for the challenge I was sent a voucher to spend at Sainsbury’s, because their Organic range is the most extensive amongst the supermarket giants. I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about how far that voucher would go.
7 day Meal plan
In order to keep on budget I do what I always try and do, make a 7 day meal plan and then write a shopping list accordingly. As the kids have just gone back to school it was a fairly low-faff, family-favourites style list. Here’s what I came up with:
– Pancakes & fruit
– Cereal, toast, yogurt, fruit
– Boiled eggs & soldiers
– Home-made Minestrone Soup (make a batch to cover 2 meals)
– Jacket potato and salad
– Baked Beans on Toast
– Cheese toasties and salad
– Sausage and Apple Toad in the hole with steamed greens and gravy on the side
– Home-made chicken burgers, potato wedges and salad
– Spaghetti Bolognese
– Baked risotto and garlic bread
– Tacos – using the leftover bolognese
– Mini mac and broccoli cheeses
– Home-made pizzas
At the supermarket I felt…
- A little dismayed at how little I could afford for the budget, but just about managed to get everything I needed. I think that’s more a reflection on Sainsbury’s than simply buying Organic though.
- My trolley-load was full of healthy produce and I felt quite smug at the check-out as there was no junk and very little in the way of processed foods.
- What I couldn’t get… garlic bread, vegetarian ready-made products like soya mince and sausages, processed kid-friendly food like fish fingers, chicken in breadcrumbs, oven chips…
What was the week like?
- I cooked more stuff from scratch… this had mixed results with the kids, but Matthew and I really enjoyed it. The boys are always initially suspicious of home-made versions of things like burgers, but if I can get them to actually taste it I can get them on side.
- I batch cooked bolognese and soup which made the food go further.
- Having a meal plan, as ever is a lifesaver during term-time because you know what you’re having for dinner and have all the ingredients ready to prepare.
- We ate more healthily, and snacked on things like fruit or carrot sticks with hummus.
- It felt like a more natural approach to food, the fresh produce was particularly lovely and felt like such a luxury.
Organic products I LOVED
- Meat – I found these great little sausages perfect for the boys as they’re small and quick to cook and have no nasties in them.
- Dairy – the quality and flavour of the milk, butter and yogurt was fabulous
- Fruit – I’m not usually a big fan of pears, but the silky juicy specimens we had were uh-mazing
- Vegetables – The broccoli had a great flavour and was a lovely deep green and didn’t go floppy in the fridge
- Bread – the Organic wholemeal bread was very tasty and satisfying
If you want to eat Organic and stay on budget it IS possible, you just need to plan your meals wisely and be prepared to make a lot of stuff from scratch.
I can’t afford to shop at Sainsbury’s, BUT Lidl do offer some organic produce and I shall make an effort to seek it out and use it where possible. It genuinely tastes better and you know you’re supporting a kinder and greener system of food production. I simply cannot afford the luxury of buying everything organic, but with meat, fruit and vegetables i’ll always try and make the stretch if it’s available. Even a small change in our shopping habits can make a difference.
Get the recipes…
I’ve made all my recipes linkable in the list above, and if you want to try the delicious Minestrone Soup that I made, I found it in the Waitrose Weekend magazine… but the recipe is also here on their website.
Other bloggers have also been doing the #ThriftyOrganic challenge this month, including my favourite blogger on a budget Michelle who posts at Utterly Scrummy… go and see how she stretched the same budget to feed her family of six!
Find out More
You can get all the details about this campaign by checking out…
What do YOU think? Would you swap to Organic? Are there any items you always try and source organically? Do you find it really expensive or has the price come down?
Disclosure: I have been commissioned by Organic UK to undertake this challenge and share my experiences with you here on my blog. These are my own honest opinions.