Moving away from the supermarkets

Until 13 years ago I used supermarkets as my main source of food shoppping. I personally used to spend around 2-3 hours in the super market each week (including having to pop to buy main thing I wanted, nipping in at lunchtime etc.). My average weekly shopping bill was between £80 and £100 (for myself and our 2 cats food/drink and toiletries). I was appalled at how much would need to be thrown away each week due to my impulse buying.


Step 1

I started off by getting a weekly veg-box scheme for my fruit and veg. This brought my bill down to around £60-£80.  After a few weeks I started to get my dairy from them too, and this brought my weekly bill down further. I have a regular box order, so I don’t even need to do anything, it just arrives, and a direct debit sorts out the payment.


Step 2

The next big step was to get a monthly meat box. It seemed expensive at £39 a month, however when I divided over the month it came to less then I was spending on my normal cheap chicken breast and bacon! Again I have a regular box, so I don’t even need to do anything, it just arrives, and the payment comes out of my bank automatically.


Step 3

I joined a food coop, and bulk buy organic and ethical food form SUMA wholesale.  The minimum order is £250 but if a few of you club together then its easy to reach that amount.  I probably spend around £50 a month  on dried and tinned goods, toiletries, treats and detergents. 


Step 4

CHICKENS. We were getting through so much veg which means we had loads of peelings. Add to that the cost of eggs we decided to invest in some rescue battery hens which provide us with eggs and eat our veggy scraps (more information coming up in another section).

Step 5
Bread machine.   I would prefer not to need one, however the fact is my family love bread and cakes.  I love the ease of popping in 600g of flour, 320ml of water, a few tsp of butter, 1.tsp yeast and a sprinkling of sugar and salt and I end up 



By doing these 4 steps, I managed to reduce the time I spend shopping from 8 – 12 hours a month down to 30mins a month. And my monthly shopping bill went from £320 - £400 a month down to £152 for myself, my husband, my 3 cats, 3 chickens and the duck. What’s more its all organic, seasonal and local… and you don’t even need to pay for petrol to the supermarket.

I think in general th

Vegetable Box schemes

Veg box schemes attempt to give you local organic fresh produce. Most of the veg box suppliers also provide over foods such as dairy, cereals and fruit/veg top ups.


Riverford – Basingstoke

Very good value for money, prices range from £10.35 - £19.65. you can set up a direct debit for ease of use.


Organically-speaking - Hartley Wintney


Able Cole – London

prices range from £10.95 - £23.50


Meat Boxes

Meat box scheme help the consumer get better value for money, while being better for the farming industry as there is no wastage.


Devonrose for example deal with caterers, and get large orders in. The cuts of meat which are left over from those orders are then added to meat boxes, which they sell at a fraction of the RRP.


Meat boxes can be delivered weekly, fortnightly or monthly. I receive a “lean and mean” one monthly, I then portion it out to make it last the month.


Fish boxes

There is a company called Martins sea-fresh which deliver very good quality fish boxes.

For example 3 Kg Box of white fish fillets. 1Kg (approx 5 portions) each of Cod, Haddock, and Hake, all skinless and boneless (except Haddock) is only £27, and lasts us 6 months.


Other items

There are local grocery shops that will happily deliver to your door. Organically-speaking are in Hartley Wintney and are an organic grocer that delivers everything from shampoo and veg boxes to dustbin liners and books. You can buy online, phone up to give them your credit card. And when you order they will deliver and take the payment without you needing to do anything!.

E-cover products are refillable. I leave my hand wash / shower gel / detergent bottles out, and they refill them for me (the nice man from organically-speaking).


Example Veg Box (see pack leaflets)

Example Meat Box (see pack leaflets)




Meals plans for local boxes

Most box schemes tell you what you will receive the week before it arrives, which gives you time to sit down for 30mins and come up with a meal plan solution. Remember to make extra the night before for the next days lunch.


Planning your meals also allow you to sit back, and take a look at what you and your family are eating, and therefore see if are you eating the same meals over again, or missing out on any nutrients.

Example shopping list for this week

These is my food bill for this week £34.66, I obviously use items from my store cupboard such as spices, flour, rice etc. and we get fresh eggs from the chickens (which cost 50p a week in chicken food).


Riverford Fruit and Vegbox £13.95

* Salad pack UK

* Mushrooms UK

* Large vine tomatoes NL

* Calabrese broccoli IT

* Courgettes IT

* Cucumber NL

* Red peppers ES

* Bananas EC

* Gala apples NZ

* Satsumas ZA


¼ of my Monthly DevonRose Meat box £11

* 1 whole Chicken

* 1 whole leg of lamb

* 1/4 pack of bacon


Top up from Organically speaking £9.68

* 3litres milk (Eco Packs £3.81)

* Low Fat Yogurts (£1.99)

* large bag of wheat free pasta (£1.29)

* Cheese (£2.59)


Other items

Ecover spray refill - £2.29 (lasts a couple of months)

Tea - £2.15 (Large box to last a month)



To make Granola, just mix oats (or Muesli), maple syrup and honey, and bake for 15mins


To make a whole chicken last 3 meals, use the breasts for one meal, the legs / wings for another, and the rest can be used to make a quick chinese soup (just add the chicken, and a stock cube into a pan of water and simmer for 30mins. Then Stir in corn flour, soy sauce, 2 egg whites and sweet corn a few mins before serving.


Couscous can make a really quick lunch, take the couscous in dry, and just add hot water when your ready to eat it, mix with your favourite soup sachet for instant flavour.

Example meal Plan

Snacks = Fruit and flapjacks


B: Muesli + chopped banana + Tea

L: Cheese and bacon salad

D: Sweet and sour chicken breast, served with egg fried rice


B: Poached eggs and grilled tomatoes on toast + Mint Tea

L: Chicken and sweet corn, noodle soup

D: Chicken in a sticky BBQ sauce, served with spicy Mexican rice


B: American pancakes with Maple syrup + Mint Tea

L: Cheese and broccoli quiche and salad couscous (cook extra quiche for tomorrow)


D: Roast Leg of Lamb, with Roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots and lashings of gravy

DESSERT: Apples baked in sultanas, honey and cinnamon, served with yoghurt.


B: Left over pancakes, with yogurt

L: Left over Cheese and broccoli quiche and salad

D: Left over Lamb cooked up with chickpeas and couscous (cook extra couscous for tomorrow)


B: Granola + yogurt + Tea

L: Left over couscous with cheese, bacon and tomato

D: Creamy courgette and cheese pasta bake (cook extra pasta for tomorrow)


B: Granola + yogurt + Tea

L: Left over pasta, mixed with Mayo, Tuna, Sweetcorn and tomato

D: Tuna and chickpea Burgers, served with sweet chilli sauce and salad


B: Granola yogurt + Tea

L: Left over Tuna and chickpea Burgers, served with sweet chilli sauce and salad

D: creamy Mushroom Risotto


Any questions? [email protected]

What else can I do?

Keeping chickens

It costs around 50p a week to feed 3 chickens, Each chicken lay around 6 eggs a week. That’s over a dozen eggs a week for 50p! Chickens also eat up kitchen scraps, and the “output” from the chickens is great for your compost bin.

Battery hens

You can rescue ex battery hens for around 50p each (although most people leave a few £s as a donation to the charity). When you first get the hens they may not be able to walk properly, and will have few feathers, but it only takes 3-4 weeks for them to recover, and they become very tame.


I decided to get a eglu from The main reason for this is that it I very easy to keep clean, and is fox proof.


Saving water


The easiest thing you can do is put a water hippo into your cistern. These are free from your water board.

Water recycling

Do you really need chlorinated filtered water to flush your loo? You can get a tank to filter recycle the water from your washing machine, gutters and bath to flush your loo, this will save you a lot of money if you are on a water metre.


Energy saving

Energy saving light bulbs

If you have 10 lights on in your house (which is easily done if you have lights in the bathroom, kitchen, living room on at the same time). If each of those lights are 100watts, that’s a 1000watts an hour. If you change to energy saving light bulbs at 6watts each, that would be reduced to 60watts in total. Imagine how much money you will save for your energy bills!

Energy saving devices

Each of your devices on standby use around 10% of the energy they would use when they are in use. You can get energy saving plugs which plug into the wall that run off batteries, or use a minimal amount of electricity. You plug your appliances (mobile charger / tv / video / microwave / washing machine / oven etc) into these plugs, and at the end of the night, or when you leave the house, you press a switch on a remote control, and all those devises are turned off (much easier then running around turning plugs off at the all).



By using box schemes you will notice the amount of plastic you use go down.

Plastic bottles make good feeders and propagators for the garden.


Glass jars can be filled with sand, and hung from tree’s with tea lights inside (made good mood lighting). Wine bottles can be cleaned out and used for making your own wine.


Tins can be cleaned out, filled with left over candles, melted down with some citrona oil to make garden candles.


Most veggy scraps can be fed to chickens. Other non-meat products can be composted. Any meat fat can be kept in a freezer bag (in the freezer) and used for making wild bird food (just melt in the microwave and add some seeds).


Everything you use to wash and clean is washed into the water system; this is having serious affects to the waterways. Think about all the different products you wash away

* shampoo,

* shower gel,

* washing powder,

* washing up liquid,

* bleach,

* hand soap,

* sun cream,

* moisturiser,

* toilet cleaner,

* oven cleaner,

* surface spray,

* conditioner,

* toothpaste,

* Air fresheners,

All of these chemicals add up! Using products such as e-cover, faith in nature, stops this, it’s cheaper, and uses less plastic (as they are refillable).


Using all these chemicals can also affect your health. The amount of people with asthma and other respiratory diseases is increasing!


Ladies.. look up

Wild foods.

Pick up a Wild food book, and take a walk in the country.

Buying in bulk / cooking in bulk

For people who prefer not to have to spend time in the kitchen, cooking in bulk can save you hours. Each section below takes a base recipe, and then re-uses it for making different meals.

Oven ready meals.


Roast a pile of onions / tomatoes / peppers / garlic. Lay out some sheets of silver foil on the work surface. Then Chicken Place chicken breasts and a hand full of veg into each of the silver foil sheets with basil and a sprinkle of either feta, mozzarella or elf (extra low fat) cheese (and maybe a medallion of bacon). Wrap up and freeze Fish Lay portions of fish fillet (cod and haddock are good). lay some king prawns on top, a bay leaf and add any left over roasted veg. Wrap up in foil and freeze Pasta sauce Any left over roasted veg gets "blitzed" with a can of tomatoes, some parsley and basil. and

then freeze. Potatoes when you roast the veg above, chop up "skin on" potatoes, coat in spray oil, sprinkle with salt, garlic and rosemary and roast for 10 mins. then bag individual portions up in silver foil and freeze. when you are ready to eat them you can just roast them in the silver foil.

Beef meals Fry a load of Minced beef, with onions, garlic and peppers. Lasagne Add a can of tomatoes, a beef stock cube and some basil and oregano to the above layer some of the above mixture between lasagne sheets, and make up a cheese sauce from elf cheese, skimmed milk and a little mustard powder. pour over the top. and freeze.

Spag bol freeze any left over lasagne meat to use as spag bol. Beef burgers blitz the above meat mixture with a little beaten egg, Cajon pepper and make into burgers. (if you make the burgers into a ball first, push your thumb into the middle to make a hole, you can then fill with a little elf cheese, and bacon bits). then seal the hole and flatten. freeze between greased paper sheets. Meatballs follow same recipe as burgers, but roll into golf sized balls (great if served with the pasta sauce, and spaghetti) Cottage pie use the above meat mixture, and add a gravy stock cube, some cubed carrot, peas, Worchester sauce and simmer in a little water. place into a bag and place in pie dish. top with mashed potato and seal the bag. (remove pie dish once frozen). Lamb meals

Fry a load of Minced LAMB, with onions, garlic and peppers. Moussaka

Add a can of tomatoes, a lamb stock cube and some cumin, cinnamon and mint. stir in some elf cheese to the above layer some of the above mixture between sheets of fried aubergine or courgette. freeze . Lamb burgers

blitz the above meat mixture with a little beaten egg, mint and make into burgers. freeze between greased paper sheets. Shepherds pie

use the above meat mixture, and add a lamb gravy stock cube, some cubed carrot, peas, Worchester sauce and simmer in a little water. place into a bag and place in pie dish. top with mashed potato and seal the bag. (remove pie dish once frozen).

Lebanese Risonni

Add the above meat mixture to a pan, and add 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of pasta and 1 can of chickpeas, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of cumin. Cover with Lamb stock (needs to be 1 inch of water above the mixture). Put a tight fitting lid on, and simmer for 10mins. Turn the hat off and leave for another 10mins (without taking the lid off). I serve topped with parsley and sliced almonds.

Pork meals


Bacon When you get a pack of bacon, cut out the medallions and bag up (2 to a bag) for use in fry ups. the tails of the bacon (which tend to be fattier) Chop up and bag as "bacon bits" for use in pasta, salads or just adding a bit of flavour to soups and stews.

Pies Place the fillings below in a plastic bag, and freeze inside a pie dish (remove pie dish once frozen). When ready to eat, remove from bag place into pie dish, and top with the potato lid. Defrost and cook for 35mins in a hot oven. Pie lids You can either use pastry or potato, Slice a potato, create a pie lid-sized sheet with the slices of potato and fry in fry-light. wrap up well in cling film and freeze. Lamb pie Coat lamb pieces in 1 point of corn flour, add mint, and cumin. Rub in 1 lamb stock cube, and simmer in a pan with a little water for 15 mins. Minced beef and potato pie Fry 1cm cubes of potato, onion, garlic and carrot in fry-light. Add the minced beef and cook for 15 mins. Venison or beef pie

Coat meat in 1 point of corn flour. mix in a beef stock cube. Simmer in a little water for 15mins (you can use ale instead of water if you have the points). Chicken and mushroom pie

Poach chicken, onion, mushroom and peas in a little water for 10mins, add parsley and a chicken stock cube.


Leek and potato pie Simmer the leeks in some milk, and stir in a little nutmeg and butter. VEGETABLE DISHES When you get peppers / onions / tomatoes / courgettes. Spend 5 mins washing and chopping them. then bag up. and chill or freeze. Then when you come home from work you can just empty a bag into a pan and make dinner (rather then chopping / washing up the knife and chopping board every day). 3 bean chilli Empty a bag of the mixed veg (see above) into a pan with a can of mixed salad beans or kidney beans. add some chilli powder, and fry for a few mins.. add a can of toms, tomato puree and some Worchester sauce. serve with rice, left overs can be served with a jacket spud, or inside a tortilla wrap. Rogan josh chuck above veg, in a pan with pureed ginger and garlic and a few tbls of water, olive oil spray , 10 cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves, 1 inch cinnamon stick 900g Lamb or chicken pieces and fry. once browed remove meat and fry 200g finely chopped onions (or mashed / pulped) 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cayenne 1-1/2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp Tomato puree once onions have browned add a pinch of salt and 1/2 pint water. Freeze in bags. Nice served with rice, left overs can be served in a tortilla wrap with fat free

yoghurt, or on a jacket potato. You can turn this into coronation style curry by adding mango chutney and fat free yoghurt. Omelette Chuck some of the above bagged veg, into a pan and fry for a few mins. beat a few eggs and pour into the veg. fry on both sides for a few mins and serve with salad! You can make Spanish omelette by adding sliced potato, this can then be cooked in a high dish, chilled sliced and used in lunches.


Mix the vegetables with risotto rice, add olive oil and simmer for a few mins, pour in vegetable stock slowly, and keep topping up when needed, before serving stir in some soft cheese to make it creamy (top with parmesan if desired). Special fried rice chuck some of the above veg into a pan and fry with some prawns in soy sauce. Beat a egg and mix in. the stir in cooked rice. I use the leftovers for my lunch the following day, however Please use caution if doing this, as cold rice can harbour bacteria. Noodles chuck some of the above veg into a pan and fry with some prawns, peas, chilli and spring onion in soy sauce. stir in cooked egg noodles (coated in soy sauce). Leftovers can be used as lunch the next day.


Pasta use some of the chopped up bacon bits, and the fried veg, stir in a can of tomatoes, beef stock cube and some Worchester sauce. If you like your sauces creamy add a few tbls of soft cheese. Stir in cooked pasta. The leftovers make a nice lunch the following day. This is also a nice base for a lasagne!


Couscous Mix the above vegetables with dried couscous, add lemon and basil, then add water!


If you use the above veg, blitz with some herbs (basil and oregano). You can then freeze in plastic bags inside a mug… when the soup is frozen, remove the mug, and you have “mug” sized soup portions (pop in mug and microwave when you need it).


Useful sites

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