Mum cuts £50 from weekly shopping bill by batch cooking 108 meals at a time

If you want to cut your weekly food shopping bill, one mum says the key is to batch cook.

She’s managed to save up to £50 a week by whipping up over 100 meals at a time.

Donna Steed, 50, says her method helps to save them money and means she doesn’t have to cook in the evening as the food can be put in the microwave.

The mum, from Aberdeen, Scotland, did have to set aside a whole week to make all the food just before Christmas but she hasn’t had to cook since.

Her standing freezer is now filled with 108 tubs which she believes will last her, husband George, 51, and 10-year-old son Dylan, until February.

She said: ‘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.

‘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.’

She had some time off over Christmas and decided to put it to use, knowing it would pay off when she went back to work.

She said: ‘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.’

She cleared out the garage and bought a new standing freezer, then bought things in bulk.

She 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.

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.

‘Before you know it, you’ve made meals for the family to last for the next month or so. It’s great.’

She likes to focus on dishes that are easy to cook in big quantities and freeze well like curry, tagine or stew.

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.

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.’

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