Please wait, the site is loading...

When graphic designer Jane Ashley, 47, decided to slash her food shopping budget, she expected it to be tough going. But two years later, her Eat Not Spend blog has inspired families across the UK to take part in her £40 per week shopping challenge.

Have you always been a thrifty cook?

I’ve volunteered for night shelters where I cooked nutritious, low-cost meals – lasagne, chicken pie, that kind of thing. At home, I’ve always planned menus and tried not to waste food, but I could still spend upwards of £130 a week on our supermarket shop. With a bit of planning, I knew that it wasn’t difficult to make big savings, and I decided to start a blog on thrifty cooking. To kick it off, 
I asked my family if they would take part in a strict £1 per person, per day, food challenge.

How did that go down?

I started off persuading them to try it for just one week. At the time, there were four of us in the house – my sister Ruth, husband Phil, daughter Emily, now 19, and myself. I worked out the whole menu, based on £4 per day. It was a challenge for everyone, mainly because food had to be strictly rationed and they couldn’t come home and ‘pick’. They also complained that there weren’t enough treats,so the next week I put biscuits and cakes on the menu, too. I got my husband Phil, who’s
 a photographer, to shoot the recipes then taught myself how to set up a blog.

Have you faced financial challenges?

Phil’s a freelancer, so money is up and down. We’ve always tried to be careful. The world’s changing and everyone’s finding it difficult. You never know what’s round the corner.

How did the blog start catching on?

Right from the start, the people that were clicking through to the blog from my Twitter feed loved it. I had requests for a vegetarian version, for a two- person weekly menu, for a gluten-free week, and a vegan week. The amazing thing is that, whatever the dietary request, you can generally bring it in at about £10 per person per week, or less.

What are your top tips for saving money in the supermarket?

Have a shopping list and meal plan. Know who’s in and who’s out, so you’re not buying meals you don’t need. Don’t go to the supermarket
 if you’re hungry or hungover, and don’t go back after you’ve done your big weekly shop, or you’ll go in for 
a pint of milk and end up spending £30 on other bits and pieces.

What are the common pitfalls faced when trying to stick to a tight budget?

People think they need more ingredients than they do, or they think they need the most expensive ingredients when own-brand will do. The most important thing is to cut out takeaways and ready meals, and always cook from scratch.

 

A lot of people will say they don’t have time to cook after work.

I work full time, I have a family and we always cook from scratch. We use dried pasta and it doesn’t take long to make a sauce; I make curry pastes at the weekend. Cooking from scratch is fun – we do it together and it’s sociable.

What recipes are fantastic for feeding a family cheaply?

Risotto, paella, somethingy ou can dish up at the table. We don’t have much red meat because it’s expensive, but we have cheaper cuts of chicken – thighs are tastier than breast meat anyway. I’ll slow cook a shoulder of pork, which is very cheap, and we buy fish frozen.

Your blog has led to a book deal – what’s the secret of its success?

It’s nice food that’s healthy too. It’s not meant to be purgatory, after all – it’s a fun, money-saving challenge.

Don't miss Jane's brilliant recipes:

Thai salmon fishcakes

Chicken fajitas 

Cajun cripsy chicken

Veggie burgers

Chilli tomato pasta

Garlic dough balls

 

About the author

Sarah Maber

We value your privacy

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our site and to allow us and third parties to customise the marketing content you see across websites and social media. For more information see our cookie policy.

Cookie Preference Centre

Learn more about what each cookie category does and choose your settings (toggle right to opt in or left to opt out). Cookie policy


Strictly Necessary

These technologies are needed to enable our websites and apps to run and to keep it secure.

Sainsbury's Magazine

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
PHPSESSID Until the browsing session ends
device_view 1 month
recentlyViewedRecipes 1 year
subscription-{popup-version-date}-PopupClosed 12 days

Vimeo

Enables Vimeo videos on the site

Cookie name Duration
_derived_epik 1 year

Constant Commerce

Enables shopping tools for recipe ingredients

Cookie name Duration
cc_a_h 10 years
cc_a_s Until the browsing session ends

DoubleClick

DoubleClick Digital Marketing (DDM) is an integrated ad-technology platform that enables us to more effectively create, manage and grow high-impact digital marketing campaigns.

Cookie name Duration
DSID 10 days
IDE 1 year
RUL 11 months

Performance/Analytics

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Google

Google Analytics tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
__gads 13 months
_ga 28 months
_gat 1 minute
_gid 1 day
1P_JAR 1 month
ANID 10 days
CONSENT 18 years
NID 6 months
__Secure-3PAPISID 2 years
__Secure-3PSID 2 years
__Secure-3PSIDCC 1 year

Marketing/Targeting

These technologies help us decide which products, services and offers may be relevant for you. We use this data to customise the marketing content you see on websites, apps and social media. They also help us understand the performance of our marketing activities. These cookies are set by us or our carefully-selected third parties.

Pinterest

Pinterest conversion tracking gathers conversion insights and builds audiences to target based on actions our visitors have taken on the site.

Cookie name Duration
_pinterest_ct_rt 1 year
_pinterest_ct_ua 1 year
_pin_unauth 1 year

Outbrain

These technologies tell us how customers use our sites and apps and provide information to help us improve the website, apps and your browsing experience.

Cookie name Duration
outbrain_cid_fetch 5 minutes
adrl 5 weeks
apnxs 6 weeks
criteo 2 months
obuid 6 months

Twitter

Twitter conversion tracking enables us to measure our return on ad spend by tracking the actions people take after viewing or engaging with our ads on Twitter.

Cookie name Duration
personalization_id 2 years
muc 2 years
ads_prefs 5 years
auth_token 5 years
dnt 5 years
guest_id 2 years
twid 5 years