A mother-of-four who lost her family home after her kitchen caught fire has revealed how meal prepping has helped her family save more than $100 a week and rebuild their lives.
Before the freak fire that took all of their belongings in May, Cassandra Michelin, from New South Wales, would spend between $350 and $450 a week on groceries for her family, including paying for pricey gluten-free ingredients.
But after the blaze, the family had to tighten their belts and cut costs down to just $250 a week – saving more than $100 each shop or thousands in a few months.
Cassandra Michelin, 32, prepares her family’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners for seven days in row – at just $1.90 each. The savings have contributed to the rebuild of their home on the NSW south coast.
Cassandra Michelin (pictured with her family), from New South Wales, was dropping her children off at school in May this year when neighbours saw their ‘whole house up in flames’
The family still have no idea what caused the fire, although they were told it started in the kitchen (pictured)
The family hope to be able to move back to the property in a year, after their insurance company have said they will assist in the rebuilding of their entire home.
Cassandra was dropping her children off at school earlier this year when her neighbours saw their ‘whole house go up in flames’ and called the firefighters.
In just 45 minutes, they lost everything.
‘It was the most emotional time in our lives and it really put so much strain and stress on our family,’ the 32-year-old said.
‘We still have no idea what caused it. Having four small children, our lives have always been busy and this just really took its toll on all of us, especially on my weight and energy.’
Knowing they would have to spend much of their savings rebuilding their home, Cassandra was looking for ways to cut down on weekly costs, and decided to take charge of their shopping bill.
‘Being such a big family, and with gluten-free dietary requirements, I believe we were probably spending between $350-$450 a week on food before the fire,’ Cassandra said.
What are Cassandra’s budget meal prepping tips?
Freezer friendly meals: Make meals that are freezable.
Allow time: Give yourself a good chunk of time to meal prep properly.
Play music while you cook: Tunes that keep you motivated.
Have containers ready to go: Look over the meals you’re making and make sure you have the right containers whether you’re portioning into single serves or the full meal.
She came across the Healthy Mummy 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge app while searching for budget-friendly meals and decided to try the workouts and food they suggested.
That way she could gain back some of the self confidence she lost after the tragedy while still feeding her family cheap and nutritious meals.
‘It took a huge leap.
‘But I decided it didn’t have to be like this, I didn’t have to go on feeling emotionally and physically exhausted,’ she said.
Cassandra said she ‘allowed herself the permission’ to give back to herself, after she had let herself go.
She came across the Healthy Mummy 28 day weight loss challenge app while searching for budget-friendly meals and decided to try the workouts and food they suggested
She set the app to the ‘budget’ plan and used a few hours on Sunday to create all of her gluten free breakfasts, lunches and dinners
She set the app to the ‘budget’ plan and used a few hours each Sunday to create all of her gluten-free breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
‘I now spend under $250 on groceries for every gluten-free meal and snack. That’s under $35 a day for six people and it’s all delicious,’ she said.
Estimating that she saves more than $100 each week in supermarket shopping alone, Cassandra is thoroughly enjoying the cooking experience – and has lost 15 kilos in the process.
Estimating that she saves more than $100 each week in supermarket shopping alone, Cassandra said it has been a huge financial help while they rebuild the home
The family enjoy lentil and vegetable frittatas, berry mug muffins, feta egg muffins with bacon and french toast for breakfast each week
And there is no shortage of flavour in the meals she’s making.
The family enjoy lentil and vegetable frittatas, berry mug muffins, feta egg muffins with bacon and french toast for breakfast each week.
Lunch is typically a combination of vegetable bread and cheese toasties, marinated mushrooms with lentils, tuna with quinoa and veggies and a mixed bean summer salad.
When the day ends the family will indulge in a chicken burrito bowl, curried chicken and potato salad or Spanish rice with chorizo.
If they feel peckish running through their busy schedule the children and their parents will have rice cakes or boiled eggs.
Cassandra has been very surprised by how easy the process of meal prepping has been and how much of a difference it makes to their week
What meals are the family eating each week?
Lentil and veg frittata – 12 serves (2 days x breakfast for 6)
Quick berry mug muffin – 12 serves (2 days x breakfast for 6)
Feta and Pepper Egg Muffins with Bacon – 6 serves (breakfast for 6)
French toast (make on the day though)
Veggie Bread Cheese Toastie – 12 serves (2 x lunches for 6)
Marinated Mushroom & Lentil Toss – 12 serves (2 days x lunches for 6)
Tuna With Quinoa & Veggies – 12 serves (2 days x lunches for 6)
Mixed Bean Summer Salad – 6 serves (1 lunch)
Chicken Burrito Bowl – 12 serves (2 days x dinner for 6)
Nourishing Dinner Bowl – 6 serves (1 dinner)
Curried Chicken and Potato Salad – 6 serves (1 dinner)
Chicken and Chickpea Salad – 6 serves (1 dinner)
Spicy Lamb & Chickpeas – 6 serves (1 dinner)
Spanish Rice With Chorizo – 6 serves (1 dinner)
Cherry Ripe Bliss Balls x 12 serves
Chocolate Cashew Cups x 20 serves
‘This has blown my mind to know that I can feed the family at such a reasonable rate, especially with the gluten-free dietary requirements that can usually make life a little more expensive,’ she said
They are currently in the process of rebuilding their house and hope to have it finished by next year (the house pictured at present)
Cassandra has been very surprised by how easy the process of meal prepping has been and how much of a difference it makes to their week.
‘This has blown my mind to know that I can feed the family at such a reasonable rate, especially with the gluten-free dietary requirements that can usually make life a little more expensive,’ she said.
They are currently in the process of rebuilding their house and hope to have it finished by next year.
You can follow Cassandra and her family over on Instagram @LiveitDoit.