I recently published an article in the Guardian called How to Eat Like a Chef for Under £20 a Week, find the article here and please share if you like it. 

I usually spend around £20 a week on shopping and wanted to look further into why this was cheaper than a lot of other people I know. Not many people cook and eat three meals a day from home, however for the sake of this article, to push myself and to analyse how much it would cost, I decided to cook all 21 meals, using simple recipes that I would make up, whilst recording the costs. 

I put a lot of research into recording my shopping lists and recipes to make sure I came up with an accurate and achievable shopping list. I’d like to share those details with you here to give further depth to the article, in the hope that some people will find the tips and advice helpful. 

One of the Guardian commenters very kindly calculated the nutrition from the example shopping list I put in the article and found that it came out at a low but acceptable 1568kcal. They also said that it needed more calcium and Iodine which can be achieved through eating more nuts, seaweed and milk or chickpeas. I should note, I didn’t include any eat out budget which averages at £14 per person each week. During the week I bought some snacks in-between meals which would have added some nutrition to my diet. I recommend a varied a diet as possible.

Here is what I cooked during the week I wrote the article.  

BreakfastLunchDinner
MondayOat, buckwheat porridge with strawberriesRoast cauliflower leaves with garlic mash (skordalia)Beetroot leaf soup
TuesdayStrawbs, kefir and cinnamon fried breadFreekeh salad with rhubarb and toasted pumpkin seedsCuliflower cheese with the leaves
WednesdayPlain porridgeFried egg sandwichRed kidney bean and tomato broth
ThursdayOat and buckwheat porridge with molassesLeftovers from freezerHomemade baked beans and baked potato
FridayMarmite on toastCarrot and beetroot top pesto pastaBarleyotto, carrots, celery, broccoli
SaturdayDrop scones with roasted rhubarb, honeyRice salad, broccoli, carrots,Chickpea curry, potato, carrot, celery
SundaySoda bread farls with omletteGreen lentil salad, broad beans, celery, rhubPotato and broad bean frittata, deep fried pods

These three meals a day actually only cost £17.26 for the exact ingredients, however this list doesn’t include extras like salt, pepper and tea. 

£2.03Monday
£3.07Tuesday
£2.65Wednesday
£1.31Thursday
£3.49Friday
£2.49Saturday
£2.22Sunday
£17.26Total expenses

I costed each recipe gram for gram. Here is the spreadsheet and a link (in pink) to a clearer PDF version below. If anyone would like the methods for any of these recipes then please ask in the comments below or send me an email and I will put it together as soon as I can.

£20 weekly shop and recipes – Costed Recipes

I then cross referenced those calculations with my actual shop and the products I’d used that week gram for gram. I then put together a general list of whole packaged products based on these ingredients as I thought it would be a more useful tool than this over complicated sheet which is made up of random percentages of ingredients.

Monthly CostWeekly CostWeightStore cupboard items
£0.84£0.2130gsalt
£0.95£0.246gpepper
£2.08£0.527 bagstea
£0.96£0.2470gsugar
£1.17£0.29150goats
£3.12£0.78120mlolive oil
£1.35£0.3460mlsunflower oil
£1.76£0.4470mlraw cider vinegar
£1.04£0.26100gwholemeal pasta
£2.92£0.73200mlpassata
£1.34£0.34100gwholemeal flour spelt or wheat
£0.39£0.105gbaking powder
£1.00£0.2525gcreamed coconut
£0.32£0.0815gtomato puree
£0.31£0.082gseaweed
£1.14£0.2930gSpread for toast marmite etc. (30g week)
£1.14£0.2975gbuckwheat (25g x 3 a week)
£1.44£0.36180g3 types dried pulses – kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed beans etc (60g 3 x a week)
£1.89£0.47150gshortgrain brown rice (50g 3 x a week)
£1.62£0.41225g3 types grain week – pearl barley, spelt, bulgar (50-75g 3 x a week)
£3.84£0.96240gdried lentils – red, green, brown (120g 2 x a week)
£0.79£0.2030gpumpkin seeds and other (30g a week)
£1.73£0.4330gnuts (price hazelnuts) other – almonds, walnuts (30g a week)
£0.96£0.2445graisins, mullberries and other dried fruit (45g week)
£1.30£0.3340gspices – 1 x 40g box a month
£8.85Weekly cost per person
  
Weekly CostWeightWeekly groceries – vegetables, bread and dairy
£0.503onions
£0.75750gpotatoes
£0.751/2 bunchcarrots with tops
£0.751/2 bunchcelery with tops
£0.601broad beans
£0.00125gbeetroot leaves or a leafy green
£0.501/2 headbroccoli
£0.501/2 headcauliflower with leaves
£0.451rhubarb
£0.621strawberries
£0.452apricots
£0.251/2lemon
£0.301.5chillies
£0.251/2 headgarlic
£1.353eggs
£1.00500mlmilk
£0.5050gbutter (50-100g week)
£1.0050gCheese
£0.501/2wholemeal bread
£11.02Weekly fresh items
£8.85Weekly store cupboard items
£19.87

I’ve put this together to be a loose guide or a template to base a weekly/monthly shop on so that people can tweak it to their own needs whilst learning a few tips too be able to buy better produce when they want or can afford to. I write, learn and talk about our food system, food and cooking with a lot of people all the time and the main problem people come back to me with, no matter who they are or of what income, is that food costs too much and takes too long to prepare. I therefore focus my energy on helping people overcome these problems through my own research, knowledge and cooking skills. My hope is that this budget is lower than most peoples and flexible so that people can change it to their own needs. And for those it isn’t low enough for, they can save money if they need to through the tips.

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Eating
for
Pleasure,
People &
Planet

By TOM HUNT

Tom's manifesto, 'Root to Fruit' demonstrates how we can all become part of the solution, supporting a delicious, biodiverse and regenerative food system, giving us the skills and knowledge to shop, eat and cook sustainably, whilst eating healthier, better-tasting food for no extra cost.

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