A teenager who stepped in to shop and cook for her parents when her mother was ill with blood cancer has managed to save them £6,200 a year on groceries thanks to her savvy money-saving tricks.
Lauren Mudie, 19, from Cambridge, started cooking for her parents from the age of 15 when her mother was ill with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma but it was only recently that she also started to shop for them too.
Now by bulk buying meat, and picking up extra-large tins of tomatoes and 20kg bags of rice, she has managed to slash her family’s shopping bill from £200 a week to just £80, which feeds between four and nine people.
Lauren Mudie bulk buys her meat from MuscleFood.com to keep costs low and she manages to do a monthly meat shop for just £60
Lauren (right) with her mother Theresa (centre), 60, and father Neil (left), 52 , and one of their foster children (his face has been blurred to protect his identity)
For that amount she feeds herself, her parents Theresa, 60, and Neil, 52, who are foster carers, and their five foster children.
The animal management student’s money-saving tricks include bulking up her meals with store cupboard essentials, lentils and fresh vegetables to make the quantities of meat she buys go further.
She also does a monthly meat shop from discount online retailer MuscleFood.com, which comes in at just £60.
But despite her savvy shopping techniques, she says she hasn’t had to compromise on taste and can still whip-up delicious meals including spaghetti bolognese, curries, casseroles and a weekly roast dinner.
Her meals cost just £1.26 a person.
Lauren’s savvy money-saving tips
Lauren, who has a Facebook page dedicated to dishing out money-saving tips, said: ‘My advice to anyone that is looking to save money is to meal plan their food before they hit the supermarkets.
‘If you go without having an exact idea of what you need to buy, you’ll end up spending more money than you need to.
‘Shopping online is also great as it allows you to see exactly how much you’ve spent and what you’ve got in your basket. You can sometimes get delivery slots for as little as £1 so it’s always worth doing if you can.
‘I also find that investing in some good knives can always help your meat stretch further. If you can cut every bit of meat off a joint on Sunday you’ll have much more meat than if you used cheaper knives.
‘Then, if I have any leftover meat, I can reuse it in a pie later in the week, or it can be incorporated into my family’s packed lunches.
‘If you’re looking to save money on your weekly food bill, then it can easily be done. You just need to be consistent with your food planning and understand that it is possible to stretch your food further than you think.’
Lauren manages to cook a huge roast dinner for between four and nine people every week on her low budget
Lauren often makes delicious and hearty meals on a budget, such as this steak with sweet potato wedges and crispy leeks and mushrooms (left) or mushroom, bacon, kale and Parmesan pasta (right)
One of Lauren’s regular meals is a Thai curry with chicken, peppers, mangetout and rice
Happily, Lauren’s mother is in partial remission after being first diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago but Lauren still continues to cook and shop for her parents because she can keep the cost so low.
Lauren said: ‘My mum has always shown me ways I can stretch my food further, but it wasn’t until I started helping out in the kitchen I realised how much you can actually do it.’
She added: ‘Bulk-buying my meat plays a big role in my money saving journey, but I always find that it needs to be good quality as well.
‘If I use the best meat possible, I only need to use three chicken breasts to feed five or six people without even feeling like we are scrimping.’
Lauren manages to make huge feasts for her family on a budget, such as fajitas with all the extras such as refried beans, tortilla chips grated cheese, potatoes, coleslaw and fried chicken (left). Other meals she cooks on a budget include a simple and healthy dish of chicken with cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, basil on pasta (right)
Lauren manages to keep costs down by bulking up meals using store cupboard essentials and lentils. She also keeps the cost of her meat shop low by using MuscleFood
Lauren’s thrifty purchases means that she saves her family as much as £480 a month.
She will cook her family five meals a week which are portioned up to feed between four to nine people.
Lauren said: ‘As a family, we are keen meat eaters so before I would be spending £15 a week on average on chicken breasts, £4 on mince, £5 on steak and £8-12 on a joint of meat for a roast on a Sunday.
‘But by bulk-buying I am able to order a hamper for £60 a month that can be incorporated into my monthly food plans. This gives me a monthly saving of around £100.’