Not everyone has the cookie cutter family of mum, dad and 2.5 children. What is 0.5 of a child anyway?
I bet by the time that 0.5 of a child is 14 years old, it will eat twice as much as its parents! Mums of teens, I hear you!
It’s no secret that the cost of living is increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to feed our families fresh, nutritious meals without breaking the bank. And what happens when you have a big family with 3 kids, or 5 kids, or even 7 kids, and you don’t want to resort to filling them up with lots of bread, pasta and rice?
Let’s say you’re a family of 6 — 2 adults and 4 kids. You eat 2 snacks and 3 meals a day each, that’s 5 lots of food, times 6 people, is 30 lots of food per day. Multiply that by 7 days a week, that is 210 meals per week!
There are plenty of savvy tips out there but if you stick to these principles, it will help you reign in your budget, be organised, get healthy and reinstate your sanity.
Go Back To Basics
When actively shopping on a budget, we need to stop wasting money on brand names, trendy superfoods, processed and prepackaged things we can easily make ourselves.
For example, things like almond meal which sells for around $10 for 200gm. Did you know that is $50 per kilo?!? That is outrageous! To save on this cost, bulk buy 1kg of natural almonds for $13 and using a food processor, simply mill your own. If you’re worried about the skins, you can very quickly blanch and skin them in less than 5 minutes. The same goes for oatmeal and quick cook oats that cost up to $8.80 per kilo. Why pay extra for processed food when you can whizz, whole rolled oats that only cost $1.50 per kilo, through the food processor?
Have a look in your pantry and reconsider all the things you can make instead of buy.
Also, veto the ready-made prepakaged foods and baked goods like biscuits, dips, muesli bars, popcorn, individual crackers and cheese dips, muffins and cake mixes. All these things can be made at home and portioned into individual servings for much less expense.
Stop including already flavoured things in your trolley! In particular, things like yoghurt. Buy a large tub of plain yoghurt, stew down your own fruit and flavour it that way. If it’s the convenience of the single serving you like, invest in individual containers or ziplock reusable squeeze pouches like Little Mashies.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Depending on the extremity of which your family may need or want to budget, it will determine how much detail you include in your meal plan. Such as whether or not you include snacks etc in your plan and for how many people.
If you like to be organised down to the letter, do include snacks in your meal plans. Kids have a tendency to be hungry all the time and it makes it easy if you have something already planned and prepped that they can just grab. And a side benefit of planning like this is, it can help you shed a little unwanted weight too.
If you are just beginning to meal plan, the first time you do it will be the most difficult. I recommend you choose 5 different recipes for each meal and snack time and rotate those for the first couple of weeks until you get in the groove of creating a system that works for you. Such as, 5 different breakfasts, 5 different snack options, 5 different lunches and 5 different dinners. By choosing from recipes, it will make it easy for you to quantify exactly how much of each ingredient you will need to put on your grocery list.
An example plan:
- Overnight oats with banana cinnamon and honey
- Boiled eggs with toast
- Blueberry Pancakes
- Homemade toasted muesli
- Brekky Muffins – egg bacon and cheese or banana berry.
- Homemade muesli bars
- Apple and sultanas
- Carrot sticks with peanut butter dip
- Home baked peanut butter cookies
- Pulled Pork and salad wraps
- Zucchini Slice
- Chilli Con Carne Quesadillas
- Corned Beef Sandwiches
- Corn and Zucchini fritters
- Pulled Pork, brown rice, veg and roast corn cobs
- Chilli Con Carne with side salad
- Shredded Chicken with zucchini, green bean and blanched broccoli salad
- Corned Beef with mash and veg
- Shepherds Pie with sweet potato top
Once you have your meal plan that you have selected from recipes, you can break it down into items for your grocery shop. And since you know exactly what and how much you are buying, you can shop around for the best offers.
Don’t be afraid of buying frozen veg and berries. They still have the same nutritional value but they have a longer shelf life, and are much cheaper! And when it comes to fresh produce, always buy in season and if it is cheap, get extra and freeze it.
Given that you are cooking for so many people, it kind of goes without saying. Buying in bulk will get you a much better deal.
For longer term meal planning, particularly with meat, consider going halves with a family member or family friends in a whole or half an animal. Your local butcher will be able to help. Even at the supermarket, buying larger quantities is usually much more economical — check the price per kilo, it will help you price compare.
With pantry dry goods like oats and flour, always buy the larger quantities as they work out cheaper per kilo than small 500gm packages.