We received a £50 weekly shop from Sainsbury's to try out the meal plan.
When Sainsbury's asked if I would like to try a weeks worth of shopping from them as part of their Feed your family for £50 idea, I agreed because who doesn't like free shopping? Plus I was really interested to see just what they were going to send and how much of it we would (or could) eat.
My normal weekly shopping budget for food, cat food, toiletries, personal hygiene products, cleaning products, and what ever else I have forgotten is between £50 and £80. I'm not someone who has to have all brand labelled food and in order to make my budget work for me I have no qualms about shopping in a budget supermarket, or stocking up when something is on a good offer, but if I was shopping week to week instead of month on month (I might buy six cans of beans one week when I will only use one that week, but will use two the next week for example) then getting my food shop under £50 was something I was interested in.
The food arrived on a Thursday night and boy was there a lot of food. My fridge was full, my freezer was full and even my cupboards suddenly found themselves stuffed. We had the ingredients for week two which looking through was fairly normal with just a few ingredients that we hadn't had as a family before... I had already prepared Top Ender that she had to try all the new foods and Big Boy eats just about anything so I thought we might be okay.
As the meals for the next day were already planned we decided to start the week on the Saturday. I found the breakfast strange for a Saturday as to me mushrooms, fried bread, sausages and tomatoes does not make a Saturday breakfast, or a healthy breakfast either! This was a huge breakfast and much more suitable to a Sunday morning, but we pushed ahead, with a couple of additions of beans and scrambled egg (which were already in the fridge) for those who don't like tomatoes and mushrooms.
It seemed that large meals were going to be the theme of the week as I found most of the dishes to make far too much for a family of four and ended up freezing the extra portions for a pot luck night at the end of the month. Even when it said things like use your biggest saucepan, I still found myself having to get another pan out of the cupboard to put some of the dinner into in order to cook it properly and found myself using my common sense over the quantities of ingredients the recipes were suggesting as 100g of rice per person as suggested in one recipe is way too much when 50 -75g would do most adults as part of a main meal.
Now it's fantastic that Sainsbury's are trying their best to help families get the most out of their weekly shop, and if you want to follow the meal plan for a particular week you will find all the food for meals coming out at under £50. You won't find that this includes things like puddings, drinks and snacks, but then the meals are quite big so you might find you don't need snacks or puddings and you might want to drink water instead of a cup of tea or a glass of your favourite beverage...
There were a few things that annoyed me about the plan. Some of the dishes aren't suitable for packed lunches (really you expect me to send Tops to school with a salmon sandwich that was prepared at 7am and left in a lunch box in a cloakroom until she eats lunch five hours later?) and of course if like us you have someone who can't eat cheaper products because they are bulked out with wheat (such as sausages) then it will cost more... a lot more. Searching through Sainsbury's (I figured it had best be the same Supermarket for the additional purchases) for wheat free alternatives for Daddy to eat added an additional £18 to the weekly shop and that was before I added a couple of bottles of squash and fruit juice and the items the meal plan assumes I had in my stock cupboard!
Then when I went to write this post I went back to the Sainsbury's website to read through the information again and I saw this;
See that bit about previous meals plans "...they’re no longer part of the £50 offer, so we can’t guarantee they’ll come in under this price". This annoyed me no end, yes I know that it is up to the supermarket what they put on offer and when, but how about making the meal plan cost £50 no matter when you buy it? Surely that would help out the average family (and therefore profits) as more families started shopping on a more regular basis at Sainsbury's?
Overall though I think this is a good thing, the recipes are interesting, easily adapted for dietary requirements and could easily be scaled down (or up if needs be) to suit the needs of your own family. We discovered that Top Ender likes rice, that Big Boy likes Hummus and that if we want to take a risk now and again with a new dish for dinner as long as we tell Top Ender that it is an experiment for the blog that she will willing try the meal!