Food budget planning – backwards!

This first post on this is going to be a bit of a ramble, but please bear with me…

I’m a fan of meal-planning.  However, I’m more a fan of other people’s meal-planning because although I always have good intentions, I never quite get a handle on the planning in advance for my own family.  I think it’s likely to do with the fact that we get a veg box delivery, so we don’t really buy according to meals we have planned, but rather cook around what we have in the box.  Yes, I could do all the meal planning for the next week over the weekend (and I have, in the past, done this) but it takes up such a lot of time (time I’d prefer to be spending doing other things) and I found that, quite often, I’d change things at the last minute anyway – or something else would change, we’d have something in the garden, or be given something, that needed eating up now.

I’m also back into diet flux again, having recently gone gluten-free again (I started eating gluten again a few months ago on request of a gastro-enterologist in the lead up to a gastro-endoscopy) and, bearing in mind I’ve had various *issues* surrounding my poor digestive system, I’ve been considering Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet for years (and various others such as Paleo and Primal), but never quite been in the position to do it – what with being largely unsupported on that from by my ex, then working awful hours, then becoming homeless, well the list goes on for a bit…Anyway, with my lovely supportive partner, I’m in a position to consider starting GAPS (although not the first stage intro as I’m still breastfeeding).

One of the things that has always concerned me regarding following the GAPS diet is cost (even if it’s just me).  It all looks very expensive.  I’ve wondered whether we could afford it.  So, it occurred that rather than planning in advance (which I’m not very good at), I’ll follow the cost in retrospect and see how it goes.

Some points to make:

  • I’m not planning to actually transition to the full GAPS until the 11th February – just working towards it over the next couple of weeks.
  • I can’t do the first stage of the Introduction Diet at the moment as I’m breastfeeding (the first stage of the introduction isn’t recommended for breastfeeding mothers) although I hope to work towards it at some point when Stinkers is weaned.
  • I have concerns about cutting out things like potatoes (etc) for the children – because, although I don’t think it will be a problem for me to cut out these things, I honestly don’t know how I could afford to make enough food for everyone else without these sorts of ‘fillers’ (and am, naturally, concerned about cutting out these sources of carbs for very active children).  However, hopefully this is something I can learn more about as I go along (and see how the cost of things progresses).
  • So whilst I’m going to cook GAPS-friendly elements of meals (so I have something to eat) I will be serving them with some sort of starchy something for the children and J as I’m not requiring that my OH or children are GAPS.
  • I am continuing to make bread and buy pasta for everyone else, although Nin has said that she wants to go gluten-free as well, so hopefully I will be transitioning the packed lunches away from gluten-based options.
  • I’m starting off with some food already in the cupboard and freezer, so the costs below don’t take that into account – I expect as the months go by things will even out (if followed through for a year).
  • As much of the food we buy as we can manage is organic – but we can’t always afford/source it.
  • We have chickens, who are not laying at their best atm, but where eggs seem to ‘magically appear’ in a meal, that’s where they’re from.
  • We’re converting our back garden into being entirely edible/medicinal, so hopefully as the year progresses we’ll be getting food from there too.
  • There are five of us to feed – just in case you didn’t already know.


photo from summer 2013

Sooooooo, that said:

Our food week starts on a Tuesday as that’s when we have a Riverford delivery.

28th January 2014


From Riverford:

  • Large Meat & Veg box comprising of: potatoes (valor) UK, carrots UK, onions UK, red ramiro peppers ES, parsnips UK, swede UK, savoy cabbage UK, portobello mushrooms UK, sweet potatoes ES, purple sprouting broccoli UK, vine cherry tomatoes ES, watercress ES, small whole chicken 1.6kg, beef frying steak (8) 800g, beef mince 500g: £49.60
  • Lamb 1/2 shoulder 1kg: £11.49
  • Unsmoked back bacon 200g (£4.19 per pack) x2: £8.38
  • Apples for juicing: £9.75
  • Whole Milk 2litres (£1.89 per 2l) x2: £3.78
  • Yeo Valley Fruity Favourites Yoghurts (4pck) (£1.75 per pack): £3.50
  • Parkhams Farms medium cheddar 300g: £3.35
  • Laverstoke Park Buffalo Mozzarella 125g: £2.59

Total: 92.54

From local shop (well, in next village, we don’t really have a local shop unless you count the few bits the Post Office sells or the garden centre)

  • Red kidney beans: 0.89

Free: Was given a bag with celeriac, chrysanthemum, land cress and kale from a friend.

So what did this make:



  • Breakfast: Baked Custard (made with dried sultanas and figs, plus some ground almonds)
  • Packed lunch: Tuna Pasta Salad (using tuna, pasta, tomatoes and cucumber, plus mayo); yoghurt and an apple.
  • Beef curry with parsnip fritters (as we have a lot of parnsips in our store right now!) and carrots & coriander.


  • Breakfast: Leftover Baked Custard (made with dried sultanas and figs, plus some ground almonds)
  • Packed lunch: Tuna Pasta Salad (using tuna, pasta, tomatoes and cucumber, plus mayo); yoghurt and an apple.
  • Beef chilli with spiced cubed potatoes and guacamole.


  • Breakfast: the final bit of Baked Custard for Anna; toast and jam from J and the other children; 2 boiled eggs for me.
  • Packed lunch: Cheese sandwiches (with some olives for Ted); yoghurt and fruit
  • Lunch: mishmash of bits and pieces
  • Dinner: Pot-roast chicken with roast parnsips and purple sprouting broccoli

Note: the whole chicken was cooked in the slow cooker over a leek and a couple of carrots, plus a bay leaf and some peppercorns.  The resultant liquid was used to make the gravy for dinner.  The meat on the chicken was divided into two meal portions, with one being used for dinner and the second reserved for later.  All the bones were returned to the slow cooker (where the giblets had been left with the leeks and some more carrots and some leaves from a celeriac were added) and more water poured over to be left to simmer for chicken stock.

Made polenta pizza during the day for next day’s lunch.


  • Breakfast: parsnip muffins (gluten-free made using rice flour)
  • Packed lunch: Polenta pizza, yoghurt and fruit
  • Lunch: Polenta pizza
  • Dinner: Chicken (leftover from whole chicken) and chrysanthemum stir-fry (also various other bits of veg in here: carrot, etc) with a citrus sauce; egg-fried rice; garlic and ginger purple sprouting broccoli

Note: The soup was made using stock from the chicken from the day before.


  • Breakfast: Toast
  • Lunch: Pasta Salad
  • Dinner: Stuffed cabbage (with the beef mince, apricots and various spices) with spiced rice and a green salad.

NB: poached the stuffed cabbage in some of the chicken stock made earlier in the week.


  • Breakfast: Scrambled bacon (using half a pack) and eggs with potato farls (gluten-free as made with rice flour)
  • Lunch: Celeriac, parsnip and apple soup (from a few days ago)
  • Dinner: Curried rose coco beans (using stock used to poach the stuffed cabbage the day before); carrots and coriander; spiced cabbage (using the rest of the cabbage from the day before) and spiced rice.

NB: baked butternut squash and made Boston Baked Beans (using the other half of the pack) ready for the next morning.  Also froze a portion of rose coco and kidney beans (from preparing beans today)


  • Breakfast: Boston baked beans with butternut squash pancakes.
  • Packed lunch: Tuna Pasta Salad
  • Lunch:  Erm, forgot to eat as Stinkers was snoozing
  • Dinner: Courgette Fritters with hummus and a green salad, plus kefir dressing/sauce)

NB: made two small loaves of bread which I burnt by forgetting to take them out of the oven before leaving the house.  We got pretty much into town when I realised and had to hotfoot (or should that be hotdrive) it back home to rescue them.  Luckily there wasn’t smoke (at that point) but it was just another mistake in a day of silly mistakes (I also burnt the pan dry whilst cooking the chickpeas – despite going and checking on them regularly – so had to salvage them and boil them up in a fresh pan)

Edited: to add that the apples were also eaten occasionally in-between meals as a snack.

Hopefully I will get better at writing these things up as time goes by.  I hope it’s of interest and use to people 🙂


3 thoughts on “Food budget planning – backwards!

  1. Leigh says:

    It saddens me a bit how expensive healthy eating can be especially for a growing family (I know!), but glad you are managing it. Your menu is quite impressive…I’m going to have to take notes and try some of your meals out! Thanks for sharing this.


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