We’re all keen to cut down our costs when it comes to the weekly food shop, especially right now.
Let’s take notes from Chelsey Batterbee, a mum from North Wales who manages to stick to a £4.67 daily budget for all meals, snacks, and toiletries for herself, her partner, and their seven-year-old son.
Chelsey, 26, who runs her own crafting business, has plenty of tips for keeping a family nourished for under a fiver a day – and that includes a weekly fakeaway.
She wasn’t always so confident in her money management skills.
‘My partner Keal and I had our son Shaylon at 18 and moved into our first family home when he was three months old,’ she told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. ‘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 learned how to take control of her budget.
‘As time passed, I got better at managing the food budget by learning some simple tips and tricks,’ she said.
‘Shaylon is now seven, and I’m budget obsessed,’ Chelsey said. ‘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 detailed meal planning.
The mum said: ‘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.’
Having meals planned and cooking from scratch five nights a week (with two ‘grab what you can’ nights) helps Chelsey keep costs down.
Another key budgeting tool is doing a monthly bulk shop, which the mum dedicates £25 to.
‘With this, I will usually get a large sack of potatoes, vegetables and meats,’ she says.
‘I’m particular about the quality of a selection of the foods we eat. I always get 5% 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.’
Next comes the fortnightly Tesco shop, which is kept to a strict limit of £60.
‘I look at my meal plan and how I can buy certain ingredients that suit more than one dish,’ she says. ‘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.
‘The fakeaway could be a homemade pizza using flour and natural yoghurt to make the dough, with whatever veggie toppings we have at home,’ she explains.
‘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.’
Chelsey is now a pro at budgeting, and does her routine without really thinking about it – but still picks up new tricks that keep spending low.
‘It doesn’t matter if our income goes up or down,’ she explains. 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.
‘I recently picked up a great tip from a forum on social media about adding grated carrot to Shepard’s pie to bulk it out,” she says. “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.’
To other parents keen to stick to a budget for feeding the family, Chelsey has this advice: ‘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.’
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