Tuesday, 5 November 2013

How To Live Well For Less - Sainsbury's Back to Basics Challenge

How can you stretch the family grocery budget yet still make delicious meals for the family??   This was the challenge set to me by Sainsbury's who provided us with a £10 voucher to purchase the ingredients to do just this!

Nowadays, with the cost of living going up all the time, we simply have to stretch our budget further than ever before. Thankfully there are tips we can use to make the most of our money and not waste our hard earned pounds and pence.
  • Using smart substitutions and combining fresh, packaged, canned and frozen food can help make delicious and nutritious meals and save you cash. For example, buying a bag of frozen spinach, ready prepared and in portion sized chunks works out must more cost effective than buying fresh spinach in many recipes.  Sainsbury's frozen spinach is £1.50 for a big bag and will last for ages.
  • The Sainsbury's Basics range gives us the opportunity to live well for less by providing a huge range of budget essentials.  The fuss free packaging and lower prices do not mean you are compromising on quality. It is well worth giving them a try. Basics products include cheese, yogurt, pasta, rice, vegetables and much more.  They help make your more expensive ingredients go further!
  • Looking out for products on special offer or reduced fresh produce that is reaching its sell-by date is a great way of getting good food for less.
  • Freeze leftover meals in portion sized quantities and make your own ready meals to use at a later date or to take to work for lunch.  Dishing up one extra portion of your evening meal for freezing is also a good way to reduce your own portion size, so it's a good habit to get into.
  • Bulk cooking is a great way to use up ingredients.  For example making a big batch of tomato and vegetable sauce using up all the veggies left in the fridge and freeze in plastic bags or tubs in ready to use portions. You can use this sauce as a base for different meals throughout the week: curry, chilli, pasta etc.  It saves on both waste and money!
  • Look out for special meal deal offers in store that save money when you buy the ingredients for a particular meal at a multi-buy price (such as noodles, stir fry vegetables and Chinese sauce).  Tailor your weekly meal plan around what is on special offer in store.
  • Get creative in the kitchen.  Find ways to incorporate economy items into meals that look and taste much more expensive than what they cost.  Being experimental with new items of food when they are on offer can introduce you to a new family favourite!
Following these simple rules allows us to have a much better lifestyle on a tight budget. Over the past few months I have cut my grocery budget down by a third, so I'm always on the look out for ways to maximize what I spend in supermarkets.

I did a shop in Sainsbury's today and purchased a selection of fresh, frozen and packaged goods with my £10 budget.  Some of the food I bought was in a meal deal, some was on multi-buy, some was on special offer and the rest was from the Basics range! 

Shopping at Sainsbury's

Basic blue cheese £1.42
Basic spaghetti 30p
Basic Sponge Mix 22p
Stir Fry Meal Deal: Fresh noodles, Edamame bean stir fry and blackbean sauce £3.00
Beansprouts 80p
Basic Soft Cheese 73p
Frozen Spinach £1.50
Lemon Curd 62p
Lemon 30p
Portobello Mushrooms £1.00

The Chinese Stir Fry meal deal is an easy midweek dinner.  I'll just add something from the freezer such as Quorn pieces or a packet of Tofu, plus some extra veggies from the fridge, to make it go further.  It's quick, easy, tasty and great value!  Much cheaper than a Chinese take away!

Here are two further recipes using the other ingredients I bought along with a few store cupboard essentials.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Blue Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

8-10 small Portobello Mushrooms
Half tub of Basics Cream Cheese
1 Onion chopped
75g chopped frozen Spinach (defrosted)
Half a slice of bread
100g Basics Blue Cheese
2 Garlic cloves
ground pepper

Remove stalks from mushrooms and put into food processor with the onion, bread, spinach and garlic. Blitz.
Add cream cheese and blue cheese and seasoning. Blitz.
Top mushrooms with mixture and then grate over extra cheese if required.
Cook at GM 6 for 15 minutes until bubbling!
Serve with Basics Spaghetti or Basics Rice, vegetables or salad.

Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes

Lemon Drizzle Cakes

1 packet of Basics Sponge Mix
1 egg 
2 tablespoons of  Lemon Curd
Juice and zest of half a Lemon
icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C.  Put 12 cake cases in tray.
Mix up the cake mix as instructed on the packet using the eggs and water. 
Stir two tablespoons of lemon curd and the zest of half a lemon into the cake batter
Pour the cake mix into the cases and bake for 8-10 minutes until the centre of the sponge springs back when pressed with your fingertips
Remove from the oven and cool
Make up a lemon icing using the juice of half a lemon with icing sugar.  Drizzle over the cakes.


The ten pounds worth of shopping has gone really far.  We have had stuffed mushrooms, lemon drizzle cakes and a stir fry on the cards for tomorrow.  There is still plenty of spinach left, plus cream cheese, lemon curd and spaghetti.  It's amazing how far £10 has gone.  It goes to show that by shopping carefully we can eat well and feed our families nutritious meals.


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