A mom learned how to cook tasty meals that cost less than $2 for her whole family. Her shopping habits have evolved into a significant way to save money, and she hasn’t sacrificed healthy options for it either.
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Natalie Riley, 39, has developed clever skills for planning meals, staying organized and avoiding unnecessary items at the store.
She wants her family to eat well but also keep grocery costs down so they can spend more on vacations and other fun activities.
Riley lives in South Yorkshire, England with her husband and three children.
The woman is a social worker so she had a chance to see how much it means to avoid useless expenses.
“When my first child was born, I learned to live on a budget. I was a student at the time and my husband and I were on a budget. I learned not to waste and look for the best deals. This included only buying seasonal fruit and veg or shopping for discounted items,” the mother told The Epoch Times.
One of their main solutions to keeping costs down is to always buy seasonal produce. She also buys meat in large quantities because it is “cheaper than buying it in the supermarket”.
“We have a meat factory shop, so I buy 2 kg [4.4 pounds] Ground beef, 5lb pork steaks, 2 whole chickens, 5lb chicken breasts, 5lb sausages, 5lb pot roast every month which usually costs me £40 [$52]’ Riley explained.
Portion sizes also play a role, and Riley tries to avoid overeating. After that, she always adds seasonal vegetables so her family gets enough vitamins with every meal.
“I only buy seasonal vegetables, which tend to be cheaper. I stick to the recommended portion sizes for meat as we often eat more than we need which can keep costs down,” Riley continued.
Going vegetarian every now and then also helps to save.
“We try to prepare one or two vegetarian meals a week. I have a well-stocked pantry that includes canned tomatoes, beans, rice and pasta, all from the basic range,” the mother added.
And her saving doesn’t just relate to the food she buys; She is also wary of energy bills.
That’s why she cooks all of her ingredients at once and then divides and mixes them into specific dishes.
“When I make ground beef dishes, I save energy and cook everything at once. For example, I fry 1 kg [2.2 pounds] Minced meat, mix it with some finely chopped onions, celery and carrots and add 250 g [0.55 pounds] of lentils. I divided this into three pans. In a skillet, I add canned tomatoes, mushrooms, passata, garlic, and Italian herbs for Bolognese. In the next pan, I add two cans of kidney beans, a beef stock cube, canned tomatoes, paprika, cumin, and chilli powder. You can add extra veggies to fill it up. I’ll add additional carrots and beef stock cubes and simmer in the third pan for hearty ground beef for cottage pie. Then I freeze these in meal-sized portions and can thaw them and make them fresh,” explained Riley.
She also pays attention to any discounts or coupons and freezes meat and fish in portions.
“I also blanch and freeze fresh vegetables. And I have stored potatoes in a brown potato sack, which keeps them fresh and prevents them from sprouting.”
Riley makes her food budget for a month and buys what she needs according to that plan.
“A well-stocked grocery cupboard costs me £20 (US$26) for pasta, rice and canned goods. I then spend £40 a week on groceries including vegetables, cereal, eggs, flour, fruit and fridge items such as ham, yoghurt, cheese and milk. So in total that would be around £220-250 ($290-$330) per month. That works out to £50 ($65) per person for five people, which is £10 ($13). ) a week at a time, which is good for our diet,” she said.
Her pantry is never empty and her meals taste great. And all without paying a fortune at the supermarket.
“I’m showing our kids that it’s possible to eat well on a budget. People are surprised how cheap the products are once I’ve prepared my meals.
How much are your monthly meals? Would you use her tips to cut expenses while keeping your pantry stocked?