Woman explains how she cooks meals for 74p a portion to save cash for holidays

A woman from Belfast has explained how she slashed her food bill for her and her husband from £500 a month to just £200.

Gemma Kennedy, from Belfast, took drastic action when she realised just how much they were spending – and that they'd far rather use the cash on travelling.

“We were spending money on nothing," Gemma, who runs the Instagram account  TheUndomesticatedWife, said.

"We used to eat out because it gave us something to do, but as soon as you sit at a table that’s around £60 gone straight away."

So Gemma and her husband, Simon, made a change. Capping their monthly food expenditure and turning to social media for inspiration.

“We now give ourselves a food budget of £200 a month. If we spend over in one week that’s fine, but we have to make up for it the next," Gemma said.



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To cut her bills, Gemma stocked up on basics like chopped tomatoes, rice and kidney beans and began meal planning.

She also bought meat in bulk from online retailer musclefood.com  to slash bills even further.

Leftovers now go into dishes like soup and fried rice, rather than the bin, and vegtables feature more prominently in meals.

It means she can now cook 50 meals for just £65 – working out at just £1.30 a portion – with some coming in at just 74p each.

“I found the money saving community on Instagram, which was such a big help to me as it makes me accountable," Gemma said.

"I share my recipes too. Cooking has become a hobby and it’s great to be able to share something you’re proud of."


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But while trying to save cash, Gemma is also keen to make sure she doesn't miss out.

“The whole process of being frugal and saving cash would be a lot more difficult if I completely denied myself and stopped spending anything," she explained.

"So, I give myself a £100 budget for treats. I can spend this on getting my nails done, buying some new clothes or treating us to a meal out – but once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Here's what Gemma cooked when she pulled off 50 meals for just £65 along with the ingredients she used to do it.

Chicken Noodle Soup – 74p a portion (serves 8)

  • 3 chicken fillets – £3.96 
  • 2 onions – 27p 
  • 4 carrots – 30p 
  • 4 celery stalks – 20p 
  • 2 chicken stock cubes – 10p 
  • 4 cloves garlic – 24p 
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme – 14p 
  • 10g parsley – 13p 
  • 180g dried noodles – 60p

Honey Chilli Chicken – £ 1.53 a portion (serves 2)

  • 1 Chicken fillet – 99p 
  • 2 cloves Garlic – 12p 
  • 1 red chilli – 20p 
  • 1 onion – 9p 
  • 2 Carrots – 12p 
  • 2 Celery Stalks – 10p 
  • 50g Honey – 27p 
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy sauce – 22p 
  • 180g of rice – 8p 
  • Chicken stock cube – 5p

Chicken Curry – £1.03 a portion (serves 4)

  • 2 chicken fillets – £1.98
  • 2 cloves Garlic – 12p
  • 2 teaspoons crushed ginger – 14p
  • 2 diced onions – 18p
  • 2 Chicken Stock Cubes – 10p
  • 150g Natural Yoghurt – 27p
  • 10g Coriander to garnish – 13p
  • 10g Almonds to garnish – 28p
  • 360g rice – 16p
  • Naan Bread – 75p

      Stuffed potato platter – £1.40 a portion  (serves 4)

      • 4 baked potatoes – 70p
      • 4x portions bbq chicken – 2.20
      • 3 slices bacon – 45p
      • 2 spring onions – 15p
      • 100 g Garlic & herb cream cheese – 40p
      • 100g grated cheese – 50p
      • 3 celery sticks – 15p
      • 3 carrots – 18p
      • Blue cheese dip – 87p

      Tacos – £2.02 a portion  (serves 2)

      • 2x portions bbq chicken – £1.10
      • 1 pepper – 33p
      • 1 onion – 9p
      • 3 tomatoes – 22p
      • ½ avocado – 43p
      • 1 red onion – 21p
      • Lime juice – 15p
      • 10g Coriander – 13p
      • ½ fresh chilli – 15p
      • 2 spring onions – 15p
      • 50g grated cheese – 25p
      • 6 taco shells – 82p

      Chicken tagliatelle in a white wine cream sauce – £1.33 a portion   (serves 2)

      • 1 chicken fillet – 99p 
      • 8 mushrooms – 44p 
      • 1 onion – 9p 
      • 2 cloves garlic -12p 
      • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard – 5p 
      • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika – 7p 
      • 1 white wine stock cube -33p 
      • 160g tagliatelle – 17p 
      • 100g garlic & herb soft cheese – 40p

      Burrito Bowl – £1.96 a portion  (serves 2)

       

      • 2x portions bbq chicken – £1.10
      • 1 pepper – 33p
      • 1 onion – 9p
      • 3 tomatoes – 22p
      • ½ avocado – 43p
      • 1 red onion – 21p
      • Lime juice – 15p
      • 10g Coriander – 13p
      • ½ fresh chilli – 15p
      • 2 spring onions – 15p
      • 100g grated cheese – 50p
      • 250g Mexican rice – 45p

      (serves 4)

         

      • 2 chicken fillets – £1.98 
      • 1 red pepper – 33p 
      • 1 mixed pack of babycorn & sugarsnaps – 79p 
      • 1 onion – 9p 
      • 8 mushrooms – 44p 
      • 360g rice – 16p 
      • 2 tablespoons soy sauce – 15p 
      • 1 tablespoon hot sauce – 13p 
      • 1 egg – 8p 
      • 2 cloves garlic – 12p

      Jambalaya – £1.02 a portion (serves 8)

       

      • 4 chicken fillets – £3.96 
      • 3 mixed peppers – 99p 
      • 2 onions – 18p 
      • 3 Celery Stalks – 15p 
      • 100g Chorizo – £1.00 
      • 600g rice – 28p 
      • 3 tablespoons Cajun spice – 30p 
      • 4 cloves garlic – 24p 
      • 1 tin chopped tomatoes – 18p 
      • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – 7p 
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano – 7p 
      • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper – 3p 
      • 1 teaspoon hot sauce – 6p 
      • 2 chicken stock cubes – 10p 
      • 1 white wine stock cube – 33p 
      • 1 spring onion – 8p 
      • 10g parsley – 13p
      •  

      Moroccan Chicken – £1.11 a portion  (serves 6) 

      • 3 chicken fillets – £2.97 
      • 2 onions – 18p 
      • 2 cloves garlic – 12p 
      • 1 lemon – 30p 
      • 25g olives – 23p 
      • 50g raisins – 18p 
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon – 4p 
      • 1 teaspoon paprika – 7p 
      • 1 teaspoon ginger – 7p 
      • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout – 15p 
      • 1 chicken stock cube – 5p 
      • Chopped coriander – 13p 
      • 180g Cous cous mix –  £1.80 
      • 2 flatbreads – 33p 

      Chicken & Sundried Tomato Gnocchi – £1.22  a portion  (serves 4)

      • 2 chicken fillets – £1.98 
      • 2 onions – 18p 
      • 8 mushrooms – 44p 
      • 4 cloves garlic  – 24p 
      • 1 teaspoon paprika – 7p 
      • 1 white wine stock pot – 33p 
      • 200g sun dried tomatoes – 48p 
      • 500g gnocchi – 75p 
      • 1 chicken stock cube – 5p 
      • 75ml sour cream – 35p

      Chicken, Bacon & Leek Pie – £1.86 a portion (serves 4)

      • 2 chicken fillets – £1.98 
      • 2 leeks – 99p 
      • 1 onion – 9p 
      • 6 slices bacon – 90p 
      • 75g butter – 40p 
      • 175ml milk – 35p 
      • 100ml cream – 44p 
      • 2 cloves garlic – 12p 
      • 1kg potatoes – 55p 
      • 150g grated cheese – 75p 
      • Chicken stock cube – 5p 
      • Tenderstem broccoli – 79p 

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