How I feed my family of 6 on a budget…

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Last week I managed to escape the mad house I call home to do the food shopping on my own – sounds wonderful right?

Wrong!

I decided to face the food shop after ‘one of those days’; the children were driving me mad, it was that week that comes around every month for us ladies, I was hungry and I hadn’t written a list… this was a recipe for disaster.

My budget went straight out the window leaving me with a shopping bill of £95 for that week. £95!!! I never spend that much and it certainly did not help the mood I was in! My usual bill is around £65 to £70 a week so this was a big blow for me.

Whereas today I blew myself right out the water…my shopping bill for the week came in at £60.22. A whole weeks shopping, for 6 people, including; breakfast, lunch, dinner, treats, toiletries and cat food! £60.22!

Now before I go on to tell you how I achieve this most weeks I would like to point out that I am no food expert, nutritionist or dietician, nor do I claim to feed my children the best food in the business, but we certainly don't live on cr*p, I am just a mum of 4 doing her best to feed her family a relatively good diet on a budget. We are not the healthiest but by no means are we unhealthy. To be fair my children eat pretty good, I mean, we all know how fussy kids can be right?

This is isn’t a ‘feed your kids a healthy, home-cooked, well balanced meal every-day after school’ blog but more of a ‘you can feed a big family, even a little family, on a budget without eating rubbish (all the time)’ kind of blog. I don’t put pressure on them to always choose the healthy option, nor do I put pressure on myself to always give them healthy options. Let’s face it who does that ALL the time especially when they are running a tight ship?

So let’s get to it, here are my tips…

1)      Meal Plan

I always make a meal plan. When I first started doing this it took me ages but now I have been doing it for around 4 years it is like second nature to me. In fact it throws me out when I don’t have a meal plan. You just need to persevere – it pays off trust me!

It takes a while at first because you have to really think about the week ahead. Will you need a meal every day or do you other plans that week? And, what do you already have in your cupboards?

If you’re stuck for ideas go online for some inspiration, especially if you’re board of the same old same old all time. The internet has a wealth of information and ideas that you can adapt to suit.

2)      Write a list

Once you have your meal plan write a list of what you need. Check your cupboards for the ingredients of your chosen meals and any other daily essentials then just write down what you don’t already have.

Your shopping list isn’t just for food – be sure to include toiletries and such like. Again, check your bathroom cabinets to be certain of what it is you need.

Then most importantly STICK to the list – don’t deviate!

3)      Portion control

I do my best to stick to recommended portion sizes for example I don’t throw the rest of the pasta in because there’s only a little bit left in the bag, or instead of adding the last chicken breast into your dish and forcing yourself (or encouraging the kids) to eat up, just cook it separately and use it for sandwiches for the next couple of days’ lunch.

This saves you over eating as well as over buying thus over spending.

4)      Fresh or Frozen

To buy fresh veg or frozen veg that is the question…

This is a tricky one. As there are 6 of us we could get through a lot of veg, for example we can use a whole broccoli in one meal so buying fresh isn’t always the cheapest option. For day to day, after school, in-a-hurry type meals I tend to use frozen. That said if we have a roast dinner on a Sunday frozen veg wouldn’t be sufficient enough therefore, we would buy fresh. Depending on our meal plans and what we having going on there are weeks when we only use frozen.

I was speaking to someone the other day that lives on her own with her young son – she said buying veg is a pain in the derriere for her as it tends to go off before they have had a chance to eat it all. In this case I recommend frozen veg. I’ll use broccoli again as an example; she can simply grab the exact amount she needs and not worry that what is left will go off nor will she need to buy it every time she does the shopping.

5)      Do not shop when you are hungry

Ok, so sometimes this can’t be avoided but if you end up shopping when hungry, without a list and no idea of what meals you want for the week ahead, well the chances are you will go over budget! Everything around you will appeal because you’re hungry and you’ll get suckered into buying it.

6)      Get the kids involved

Get the kids involved in the meal planning. I often ask mine what they fancy. Are there any little treats they would like this week? Do they fancy different snacks, different fruit, different cereal, different smelling hand-soap or bubble-bath? Getting them involved and giving them a little responsibility makes them feel more important and it gives them their place within the family.

You can extend their involvement to the cooking as well. Whether it’s a quick meal you’re chucking in the oven or a home-cooked gem you’re conjuring up, get the kids involved. They love to help…well mine do anyway. I have found they try more things when I get them involved in the prepping and cooking because, well, they cooked it!

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Tips 1 and 2 are my most important, never-do-the-food-shop-without-them, tips. Failure to do so results in a massive overspend on junk food and general stuff that you just don’t need, as I learnt last week!!

This week I stuck to ALL of my tips and as I mentioned just now, today’s bill came in nicely under budget at just £60.22. I really find the above helps me stick to my very low, £65 for a family of 6 budget, and I hope it helps you too.

I have sample meal plans, shopping lists & lunch box ideas for pre-schoolers (my school kids have school dinners) that give you an idea of what exactly I feed my brood, so if you would like more information on how I feed my family of 6 on a budget and how you could too, I would love to hear from you...Just comment below 🙂

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