So, let’s talk Brexit…… well not really but the impact it is having on my daily life is crazy! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the prices of everything is slowly creeping up. The price of my family food shop has shot up, as have the children’s extra curriculum activities. The only thing that hasn’t done so is my salary – which means my money must spread further. I believe all of the above has something to do with the economic uncertainty that we are currently facing.
So what better time to do a financial challenge!
Frugality is a part of the way I was raised and who I have become. I love getting a bargain, whether in a charity shop, car boot sale or warehouse sale. When sourcing holidays, I try to ensure its always value for money. My friends have nicknaming me ‘Jumble Juli’ and I am proud to be living a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget, without getting into debt.
This led me to research the net on ways to ensure my December pay was able to stretch for all my competing priorities and last the required six weeks.
Welcome to the world of feed your family for £25 per week challenge.
For many people this is a weekly reality or way of life. According to the BBC website, the average family spends £236.20 per month on food (not including the cost of waste). In my household we usually meal plan and budget to not exceed £200 per month, so what would happen if this budget was slashed in half.
Before I update you on how it went, let me set the scenario. My family background is Caribbean which impacts the food myself and my family make and eat. Some usual menu staples include stewed chicken with rice and vegetables or salmon, vegetables and rice. Many different spices and seasons are used, most are store cupboard staples but there are quite a few fresh herbs that are required to bring out the taste. When I began researching the challenge, lots of website and blogs highlighted that you can feed your family for £20 – £25 per week. Let’s be honest, these meal plans generally consist of English meals. Although some of these are cooked in my household, they are not the staple on my hob. I knew this challenge would mean that as a family, we would be coming out of our comfort zone and trying new meals.
For full disclosure when I started this challenge, I had a freezer full of raw and cooked food.
Total challenge budget – £100
Spend for Week 1 – £47.07
Spend for Week 2 – £26.60
Spend for week 3 – £15.00
Spend for Week 4 – Nothing as I used a loophole (I will explain)
My total spend for the three weeks was £94.53, you can see that there was definitely no way that I was going to be able to survive on the £100 budget. It is not for want of trying but I felt that living off that amount of money meant making choices that nutritional compromised my family. My children love fruit and some vegetables, which means I spend about £15 per week at the mark ensuring that there is an endless supply. I also try to ensure that the offering available is diverse, meaning not just apples and oranges but melon, guava and mango are on the menu. Frozen fruit is only good for smoothies,so this means I have to buy fresh. I try to compliment this with carrots, cucumbers and peppers but it is clearly noticeable how cheap junk food is and how expensive fresh wholesome produce is.
On weeks one and two, I shopped strategically hitting my local Tesco Express about 8pm, when I knew they would be reducing food. I also when to Morrison’s on Sunday afternoons about 2.00pm when they did a mass reduction on a variety of departments including meat and fish. This meant that I was able to make my funds go further and actually last 3 weeks.
On the third week, I only spent money on fruit. I was able to cobble together meals from the left-over ingredients from the previous weeks. I also reduce my meat intake focuses on beans and pulses to make meals spread further.
By week four, I knew that £5 was never going to feed my family, that would be two days of fruit in my household. I have to hide bananas from Ri otherwise he would never stop eating them. I had a £60 gift card for Tesco which I was able to use to fund the fourth week’s shopping. This was a blessing as the cat needed supplies and I had to purchase Ri’s nappies and wipes for nursery. This would blow my £5 budget out of the water.
Feed your family for £25 per week they say. I say not a chance in my household. I even went to the extent of making my own bread, baking weekly breakfast muffins for the children and making my own ice pops for desserts. All in an attempt to make the money go further. I meal planned and based everything around store cupboards products we already had. I bulked out meals with lentils, chickpeas and beans and reduced our meat-based dinners. But still found this challenge meant that my children could not eat their usual YeoValley yoghurt and breakfast literally became bran flakes or porridge. It may be possible if you don’t eat a lot of fresh produce, reduce your meat intake, do not have a pet and have time to make every single snack your child will eat rather than shop brought.
For my family and I it was just too tight and a tad too time consuming. I work full-time and found it exhausting having to bake after the kids had gone to bed at night, but I had to as we needed the snacks. Personally £125 would have been a more realistic monthly target and would avoid us having too many food compromises.
Could you try it? Please let me know, by commenting below.
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