How This Budget Obsessed Mum Feeds Her Family Of Three For Under £5 A Day
- Chelsey Batterbee, from North Wales, sticks to a £4.67 daily budget for all meals, snacks and toiletries for herself, her partner and their son, 7
- Meal planning, bulk buying, portion freezing, cooking from scratch, and finding cheap and healthy ways to bulk out meals are key to her success
- Budget even stretches to a few favourite treats – and a weekly fakeaway
If you’re forever looking for ways to crunch down your food-shopping bill, take inspiration from savvy shopper and meal planner Chelsey Batterbee.
The mum of one, 26, from North Wales, who runs her own crafting business (@crafted_bychels), has stacks of top tips and ideas for keeping her family well fed and nourished for under £5 a day – that’s with all toiletries and a weekly fakeaway (a supermarket-bought takeaway) included.
“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 learnt how to take back control.
“As time passed, I got better at managing the food budget by learning some simple tips and tricks,” she says. “Shaylon is now 7, 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.
“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,” she says. “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.
“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 £60 and not a penny over.
“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 says. “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.
“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,” 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.
“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.”
As Chelsey goes to show, once you get into the flow of it, it may be easier than you think.
Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk comments: “Managing the household food budget is no mean feat. If you’ve noticed your bill racking up, it may be time to reassess.
“With savvy shoppers more than happy to share their money-saving tips and advice, it’s easier than ever to hit upon new ways to keep your budget in check.
“Plus, with Christmas on the horizon, searching out the best deals early on makes it easier to bag any extras you're after – from tubs of chocolates to turkeys – without putting a strain on your finances.”
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