A SUPER saver mum has revealed how she is able to make some packed lunches for around £5 a day when sticking to a tight budget with clever meal planning and online shopping.
Charlotte, 29, a cleaner and mum-of-two, has shared her secrets for savvy shopping so that you can do it too.
The mum is known for her saving tips, food hauls and cleaning motivation which she shares on her YouTube channel where she boasts nearly 2,000 subscribers.
She said when shopping on a budget, the cheapest she can feed her whole family of four is for just £4 a day.
But on average – in a normal week – the mum, from Swindon likes to add variety to her kids, four-year-old Mila and three-year-old Jack’s packed lunches.
She said: “I try to prepare packed lunches the night before as it’s too much of a rush in the morning.
“I try to stick to a budget by buying own brand food and look for food and deals that are on offer.
“Also instead of buying individually packaged food, I save money by buying a bigger pack which will last longer so it’s more cost effective.
“I also try to choose one type of lunch to make for the week.
“So one week could be sandwiches, breadsticks, fruit, veg and yoghurt and then I choose something different for the next week so I’m not using too much of my weekly food budget on lunches.”
The savvy food shopping mum said she also likes to look online for ideas to make her kids’ lunches creative so they are excited to eat them.
Sometimes her kids have the same thing – while sometimes they have different lunches – and she usually shops in supermarkets like Aldi or Tesco to get the best prices.
It’s another cheap way to make lunchtime more interesting and fun for kids.
Charlotte said: “My son is very fussy but at the moment he enjoys crackers, breadsticks, crisps, dried fruit and yoghurt. While my daughter loves her fresh fruit and veg!
CHARLOTTE’S TOP TIPS FOR MAKING PACKED LUNCHES ON A BUDGET
- Charlotte said people should try to avoid buying individually packaged food – when making packed lunches – as they often work out more expensive.
- If you’re trying to make packed lunches on a budget, utilise items from bigger boxes, encouraged Charlotte.
She explained that alternatives to crisps – crackers or breadsticks – can be bought in a bigger box, last longer and can be divided out into multiple lunches as a snack.
- The mum-of-two advised fellow parents to search on Pinterest for ideas to make packed lunches more creative as this keeps kids engaged.
- Try to find alternatives to sandwiches like bagels or wraps, said Charlotte. She explained that kids can get bored having a sandwich every day.
- Use sandwich cutters as well as fruit and veg cutters to make packed lunches feature a variety of fun shapes.
“They both love having these bento lunch boxes with the different sections and they like it when I use the cutters to make their food into fun shapes.
“To make packed lunches cheaper, I like to shop in Aldi. Tesco also has some really good Clubcard deals.
“I’m always searching for what offers are on and I try to choose own brand products when I can.”
The mum-of-two said parents should steer clear of buying individual packets of items such as crisps, chocolates, fruit from supermarkets as it works out more expensive.
Plus, she encouraged those sticking to a tight budget to make the most of the own brands available.
While shopping around for the best prices, reductions, deals and bargains is also super important.
The savvy bargain hunter added another way to cut back costs is to theme lunches so there’s a type of lunch for each week – this way food goes further and for longer.
Charlotte, who also shares her tips and tricks on Instagram, came up with a number of packed lunch ideas for cheap.
CHARLOTTE’S MONEY-SAVING LUNCHES
- Pizza bagel -pack of 6 bagels £1.50 x 2
- small amount of grated cheese and sauce
- Crackers – 89p for the pack
- Breadsticks – 84p for the pack
- Cucumber – 43p for the whole cucumber
- Apple – 59p pack of 6 – Tesco Clubcard deal
- Kiwi – £1 pack of 6
- Strawberries – £1.39 a punnet
TOTAL – £8.14 but would have enough for more than a week with leftover crackers, breadsticks and fruit.
- Dinosaur/ dolphin shaped sandwich – loaf of bread 59p and pack of ham 86p
- Melon – 95p
- Carrot and cucumber sticks – 43p cucumber and 52p for a big bag of carrots
- Cereal – £1 for a big box
- Raisins – £1.35 for a big bag
- Mini chocolate cookies – 29p a box
TOTAL – £5.99 and there would still be lots of cereal and raisins left over.
- DIY Lunchables (crackers, ham and cheese) – crackers 89p, ham 86p and cheese £1.79
- Sliced apple – 59p
- Easy peeler – 69p
- Blueberries – 89p
- Dried mango – £1.25
- Chocolate biscuit – 22p a pack
TOTAL – £7.18 with lots of leftovers to use in other lunches.
Previously, as the kids head back to school we reveal the best ‘me-time’ treats for under a tenner.
And a budgeting expert reveals the four things she stopped buying in order to meet her financial goals.