A busy mum has revealed how she slashed her grocery bill by £50 a week by buying frozen food and batch cooking meals in advance.
Donna Steed, 50, cuts down her food costs and saves time in the evenings by cooking her family’s favourite dishes to freeze and put in the microwave to eat at a later date.
The savvy mum, from Aberdeen, has more than 100 plastic containers of food in her freezer which she believes will last her, husband George, 51, and 10-year-old son Dylan, until February.
A busy mum has revealed how she slashed her grocery bill by £50 a week by buying frozen food and batch cooking meals in advance. Pictured: her freezer filled up with 108 plastic containers of food
Donna, who is a field line manager, highly recommends the clever method to other parents – especially because she can put her feet up after a long day at work and not worry about cooking dinner.
She started her batch cooking journey after she cleared out the garage in her family home, and bought herself a new standing freezer.
HOW MUCH DOES DONNA SAVE BY BATCH COOKING?
Donna’s weekly food shop budget before batch cooking: £80
Donna’s weekly food shop budget after batch cooking: £30
Saving per week: £30
Saving per month: £215
Savings per year: £2580
The mother-of-one recommends building up ingredients by buying 1kg chicken or mince in each weekly shop to incorporate the costs into your budget and spread things out.
The mum then spends a day focusing on a particular set of dishes, before measuring out two servings into a tub to freeze and stack up high in the freezer.
‘My husband and I work full time and we’re key workers, so we’re quite busy people and with lockdown, I thought I’d start getting into batch cooking,’ she explained.
‘I like to be organised in my life so it became really enjoyable.
‘Cooking has always been a bit of a hobby for me and I find it quite therapeutic.
‘I had some time off over Christmas and New Year so I did a couple of dishes every other day to get the ball rolling.
‘I tend to put one dish in the slow cooker, one on the hob and then one in the oven, then it didn’t feel as much of a chore.
‘It seems quite productive but it really doesn’t require that much effort.
‘In the end, it only takes about an hour out of the day.
‘Before, I had a food budget of roughly £80 per week but once I started the batching.
‘I’ve got it down to about £30 per week for the basics and perishables.
‘It even cuts down on waste because I usually buy frozen veg as it’s easier to keep track of and it doesn’t go off – it also saves you crying over onions.
‘It’s quite addictive because you feel like you’re being organised and efficient so it feels really good – and you’re making your life so much easier.’
Donna Steed (pictured) 50, cuts down her food costs and saves time in the evenings by cooking her family’s favourite dishes to freeze and put in the microwave to eat at a later date
Her pre-cooked dishes include enchiladas (pictured). She highly recommends the clever method to other parents – especially because she can put her feet up after a long day at work and not worry about cooking dinner
Pictured is Donna’s sweet and sour vegetable dish. She started her batch cooking journey after she cleared out the garage in her family home, and bought herself a new standing freezer
Also among her creations is a bolognese (pictured). The mother-of-one recommends building up ingredients by buying 1kg chicken or mince in each weekly shop to incorporate the costs into your budget and spread things out
Donna says she loves to cook as she finds it therapeutic. Pictured is step on her mini meat loafs
Pictured is step two or her step by step of some mini meatloaf. The mum spends a day focusing on a particular set of dishes, before measuring out two servings into a tub to freeze and stack up high in the freezer
Step three of her mini meatloaves is pictured. Donna is a key worker so cooks on her days off and reheats meals in the evenings
Donna said that before she was spending around £80 a week on cooking but now spends around £30, pictured are her meatloaves
The final cooked meatloaf which Donna then freezes and saves to reheat at a later date to feed her husband and son
Donna’s shopping list and recipes
Serves 8 for £9.57 (£1.19 per person)
- 1kg chicken breast chunks £4.89
- Enchilada kit £1.76
- 1x 340g jar of enchilada sauce £1.65
- 1x 400g tin red kidney beans £0.30
- 1x 326g tin sweetcorn £0.47
- 1-2tsp chilli flakes (optional from pantry)
- 200g grated cheddar for topping £0.50
1. In large pan, fry chicken in a spray oil for 6-8mins until golden
2. Add veg, chilli flakes to taste, all enchilada kit mix and half of cheese.
3. Once cooled spoon equally into each tortillas, rolled up laying in lasagne tray.
4. Cover top with jar of enchilada sauce, sprinkle with rest of cheese and bake at 200 degrees c for 15-20mins until golden, serve with garlic bread / salad
Serves 6 for £3.74 = £0.62 ppn (combinations of whatever needs used up)
- 500g cooked pasta £0.42
- 200g soft cream cheese £0.65
- 100ml semi skimmed milk £0.20
- Grated Parmesan (optional to tase)
- 1x160g diced smoked sausage / pack of cooked ham or chicken £1.50
- 1x326g tin sweetcorn / mushrooms / cherry tomatoes £0.47
- 200 g grated cheddar for topping £0.50
1. In a large bowl mix cheese and milk to consistency of yogurt, add meat, veg and Parmesan to mix then pasta.
2. Tip all into oven proof/lasagne dish and sprinkle with cheddar and bake in over for 15-20 at 200 degrees as above. service with salad / garlic bread / chips.
Donna said: ‘It’s good to get yourself into a rhythm and focus on chicken dishes one day, then veggie dishes another, and the next day maybe a fish day.
‘I did three to four dishes every other day and sometimes I’d do a side dish or a starter to throw in the freezer too – this would make about five or six tubs for the freezer each time.
‘Slowly but surely, the freezer started filling up so I had to take the drawers out to fit more in. The tubs are now two rows deep in there and there’s about 108 dishes.
Pictrured is a batched up red Thai curry. Donna says her method cuts waste because she usually buy frozen veg as it’s easier to keep track of and it doesn’t go off
‘Before you know it, you’ve made meals for the family to last for the next month or so. It’s great.’
Donna has managed to build up a stack of good recipes to batch, and suggests cooking more adaptable dishes such as curry, tagine or stews.
She even uses an app to audit the big freezer which helps her see what dishes she has left to indicate when she might need to do another session in the kitchen.
Chilli is pictured being cooked before it was batched up. ‘Slowly but surely, the freezer started filling up so I had to take the drawers out to fit more in. The tubs are now two rows deep in there and there’s about 108 dishes,’ Donna said.
Chilli batched up is pictured. Donna says it’s ‘addictive’ being so organised and cooking food
Donna added: ‘I think my superhero name would be something like ‘”list girl” because I like to organise it all and have a proper meal plan in place.
‘Batch cooking has totally transformed my life by saving time, space, waste and money.
‘It’s great because once everyone’s come home it’s a matter of quickly heating a dish up, putting it on the table and then having the rest of the evening to yourself which is nice.
‘I’m really happy I started doing this and I just find that it works for me really well. I would recommend it to anyone.
‘I’ve got to the stage of a full freezer and now I can just keep the kettle boiling and keep stocking it up.’
Donna keeps track of the food she has in handy lists. Pictured are two black boards with her cooked meals listed
The very organised mum uses tallies to keep track of each draw of the fridge – which includes cooked meals and batched up food
Individual bowls of carrot honey and ginger soup packaged up before being put in the freezer