Here’s proof that it’s possible to feed a family on a tight budget.
Take note from this savvy mum, Simone Roberts, 39, who manages to feed her family of seven delicious, nutritious meals for just £25 a week.
Simone, from Birmingham, gets creative with simple store cupboard ingredients to create gourmet dishes.
The mum-of-six, whose eldest daughter Rael, 19, has fled the nest, hails these basic ingredients as a simple way to cut the cost of her big food shop.
She says she was inspired by ‘convenience culture’ and the desire to make quick and easy home-cooked meals for her family.
‘Store cupboard ingredients are great for convenience because you can use them to cook for a large family for a smaller price,’ Simone said.
‘They also don’t require much effort.
‘Using this type of ingredients is a great way to keep the price of your weekly shop down as you can buy them in bulk.
‘They can also be healthy and nutritious for your family. So you don’t have to sacrifice the healthiness of your home-cooked food for the sake of price.
‘My store cupboard staples are larger packets of dried beans, dried lentils, large bags of brown basmati rice, packets of flavouring and seasoning, as well as nuts and seeds to bulk meals out.
‘My family are vegan, so nuts and seed are a great way for us to get certain nutrients.
‘A great way to save money on these is buying them from the reduced section. We usually get ours from the reduced products on Holland and Barrett.’
Dried beans and lentils are the key to Simone’s budget meal ideas as they are super cheap and filling.
She soaks and boils in batches then stores in the freezer, allowing her to save time when it comes to making dinner.
The mum said: ‘I usually soak and boil enough beans and lentils for about four weeks worth of meals.
‘This saves me so much time as I can do it all in one go, and then grab them out the freezer when I need to use them.
‘It is important for this to be quick and easy, especially while trying to look after the five children.
‘Preparation is key for achieving minimal waste and making the most of your ingredients to ensure they go as far as possible.’
Another of Simone’s tips is to go to international supermarkets, or check out the world food aisle of your usual go-to store.
‘As I have an Afro-Caribbean background, I am used to using beans and lentils,’ she notes. ‘I usually buy ours in bulk from a local store called Home Food Express.
‘But they are an amazing ingredient for everyone as you can use them in so many dishes, including, curries, lasagne and even shepherd’s pie.
‘If you have access to Asian supermarkets, they are usually best for buying in bulk. However, the popular supermarkets are getting much better as catering to larger families and selling much bigger packets of ingredients.
‘In the world foods aisle, you will find large packets of lentils and rice. Buying in bulk helps keep the price of your weekly shop lower in the long run.
‘If you buy a 1kg bag of dried beans, it could last a family of four around three to four days.
‘I buy big bags of rice too so that we can have veggie rice, fried rice and also add them into different meals we’re making.’
When buying her weekly shop, Simone ensures that she buys versatile fresh fruit and veg, so that she can transfer it to any dish and make the most of her fresh ingredients while incorporating her store cupboard essentials.
She freezes any leftover veg and fruit so nothing goes to waste.
The full-time housewife said: ‘They can be blended into smoothies, or be frozen and enjoyed later, or you could even freeze the smoothie mix into ice-lollies and ice cubes.
‘We also batch prepare salads to go with our meals. To make sure that salad lasts as long as possible, we always use crunchy vegetables so it does go soggy.
‘Using cabbage instead of lettuce and including carrots is a great way to keep your salad firm. This way it can last up to three days.
‘One of my most important tips is, don’t cook when you’re hungry. I tend to prepare my meals for the next day after I have eaten to ensure that I don’t sneak any extras and therefore waste any ingredients.
‘I have always love cooking and preparing, but knowing it is also saving us money is even more satisfying.’
An example of Simone’s shopping list for the week:
- Vegetable oil: £1.09
- Bananas £1.09
- Almond milk x2: £2.00 (£1 each)
- Cabbage: £0.65
- Spinach: £1.29
- Broccoli: £0.40
- Apples x2: £3.98 (£1.99 each)
- Avocados x5: £4.95 (£0.99 each)
- Butternut squash: £1
- Kale: £1.10
- Oranges: £1.10
- Dairy free spread: £1.20
- Packet of dried beans: £4.99
- Packet of spice: £0.89
- Total: £24.84
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