A MUM has revealed how she feeds her family-of-three for less than £5 a day.
Mum-of-one Chelsey Batterbee, 26, from North Wales, also buys all toiletries and a weekly fakeaway (a supermarket-bought takeaway) within that price.
Now Chelsey, who runs her own crafting business, @crafted_bychels, has shared her top tips and ideas for keeping her family well fed and nourished on a budget.
She told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: “My partner Keal and I had our son Shaylon at 18 and moved into our first family home when he was three months old.
“At the time, it was just my partner who worked while I looked after our son.
“It was very difficult, and I struggled a lot with budgeting. Sometimes, as long as Shaylon had enough, Keal and I would go without.
“It was a case of us grabbing a piece of toast or fruit and that would be it.”
Over time, however, Chelsey learnt how to take back control.
She said: “As time passed, I got better at managing the food budget by learning some simple tips and tricks.
“Shaylon is now seven, and I’m budget obsessed. I feel if I haven’t got myself a good deal with the shopping then I have failed, so I simply don’t let that happen.”
Chelsey currently spends £145 a month – that’s around £4.67 a day – on all meals, snacks, packed lunches and toiletries for herself and her family.
The hard work starts with the meal planning.
I feel if I haven’t got myself a good deal with the shopping then I have failed, so I simply don’t let that happen.
She explained: “A typical week’s dinner menu starts with lasagna with garlic bread. Usually there are leftovers, so there’s enough for the following day’s lunch or dinner.
“On other days I may make a chicken korma or a lentil dahl, a pasta bake that provides leftovers for lunch for my partner to take to work, sausages and mash with vegetables, an omelette with a side salad, and seasoned chicken with rice and pitta bread.”
Chelsey cooks from scratch five nights a week and has two ‘grab what you can’ nights.
“I love to cook,” she says. “I'm not against using jars of sauces, but I feel as if using ingredients to cook from scratch is so much cheaper.”
When it comes to the shopping, Chelsey starts with a monthly bulk shop, which she dedicates £25 to.
She explained: “With this, I will usually get a large sack of potatoes, vegetables and meats.
“I'm particular about the quality of a selection of the foods we eat. I always get 5 per cent fat beef or lamb mince, for instance, and sausages have to be of a certain quality, yet still on budget.
“I buy the majority of our meats from Tesco, or the butchers that are local to us who deliver to the door. I then separate it into portions per meal, ready to freeze.”
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON FOOD BILLS
FREEZE IT: Fruit and veg can be saved if chopped up and portioned in the freezer.
Apples and especially berries can be blended into great smoothies at a later date.
Simply cut them up and save them in individual food bags or storage containers. Remember to date it.
PLAN IT: If you buy per meal, you will have bits you don’t need left over which will go off and end up in the bin.
So plan each meal in advance and if there are any leftovers, go to realfood.tesco.com and type in the ingredients. The site will suggest recipes specifically for your leftovers. Then you can plan your next meal and so on.
BLITZ IT: We have all ended up throwing away the last bits of salad bags. But catch them early before they turn and you can blend them with herbs to create a delicious pesto.
Add any nearly-off veg, such as peppers, to help create a delicious flavour. Then drizzle over a bowl of pasta or freeze it for future use.
BATCH IT: Buy in bulk, batch-cook what you have and you will often find you use everything. Doing it all at once means you are not leaving anything in the fridge to go off. Use plastic food storage containers to portion it out and once frozen, you have an easy microwave meal to hand on weeknights.
ORDER IT: Eat food in order of how easily it spoils — fresh fruit and veg to start with, then dry goods. Tinned goods will last an age.
EXTEND IT: Roast dinners have a longer shelf life if you turn leftover vegetables into bubble and squeak — potato and cabbage especially — while a chicken carcass can be stripped and used for soup.
Both can make tasty next-day dinners . . . and an extra meal means extra savings.
Next comes the fortnightly Tesco shop, which is kept to £60 and not a penny over.
She added: “I look at my meal plan and how I can buy certain ingredients that suit more than one dish.
“Beef mince, for instance, can be used to make chilli, bolognese, or homemade burgers for our fakeaway night.
“The Tesco shop also helps with keeping on top of items like stock cubes, tinned tomatoes for sauce bases, and pasta.
“I buy lots of frozen vegetables and fresh veg too, which I will prepare and freeze. I also buy our bread and milk there.”
The family may splash out an extra £10 on a takeaway as a treat occasionally, but during lockdown Chelsey has been turning to fakeaway meals instead, which are included in the original budget.
My advice to other families would be to shop around, as shopping in one place can sometimes rack up a larger bill.
She added: “The fakeaway could be a homemade pizza using flour and natural yoghurt to make the dough, with whatever veggie toppings we have at home.
“I don’t purposely look out for yellow sticker items, but if I see any discounted meat or fish I will usually pick these up to freeze.”
Due to her persistence, Chelsey is now a seasoned budget food shopper and meal planner.
“I've spent so many years budgeting that it just comes naturally to me now,” she says.
“It doesn’t matter if our income goes up or down. I stick to the same method of shopping, as I know it works.
“We are all healthy and get a good balance of everything we need.”
Searching for new tips is a habit that will never grow old.
She said: “I recently picked up a great tip from a forum on social media about adding grated carrot to Shepherd's Pie to bulk it out.
“It means you're getting one of your five a day without even realising it.
“Obviously, there are certain things we can’t go without, like a certain coffee we like and some branded toiletries.
“Plus, I’ve a weakness for Vimto. But I find Amazon Subscribe & Save great for that, as things can sometimes last two months or more when bought in bulk.
“My advice to other families would be to shop around, as shopping in one place can sometimes rack up a larger bill.
“Also, bear in mind that not all branded products are the best. There are lots of cheaper alternatives out there that taste just as good.
“Lastly, try to avoid those impulse buys. Create a list and a meal plan and stick to it.”
In other money-saving news, this student lived off £5 for five days, here's how she did it.
And a busy mum-of-four shares her VERY organised meal-prep system which helps her plan food for six weeks
Plus we shared how a mum-of-three reduces weekly food bill to just £30 thanks to batch cooking – here’s how she did it.
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