December 1, 2015

Budgeting for a Large Family



My large family crept up on me, as I’d been a single mother of two for three years and thought I had a handle on the household finances. Of course at this point in time we weren’t in the throes of a credit crunch however as I endeavoured to grow our own and cooked from scratch every day I was more concerned with the leftover food than having enough to go round.

Then I met my husband and with a huge six foot three frame his appetite was that of a growing boy but finally the food will all be eaten up by humans instead of by our dog, Banana.

A few things changed then which catapulted our small family into the large league, another baby arrived whilst some of our family members came for rest and recuperation. Added to this our eldest son entered his teenage years devouring everything in sight and making the snack cupboard lay empty for four days of the week.

Growing Up and Out

As the baby progressed to solids I realised that no longer do I have leftovers, the dog was eating generic dog food and I was scraping the pan for the last of the mashed potato. With inflation and the credit crunch our weekly shop skyrocketed making a trolley full cost treble what it used to.

That’s when I decided to take control. Our little luxuries were well beyond reach as we concentrated on the staples. Even butter increased by a whopping 110% whereas tuna suddenly became a luxury item costing more than the children’s pocket money combined.

Savvy Shopping

So I started shopping for special offers and discount codes and declared that unless an item was half price or buy one get one free we wouldn’t be having it. This resulted in a little imagination in the kitchen and moans when the children didn’t get their Cinnamon Grahams for breakfast.

Post War Hints and Tips for Feeding a Family

I also asked my mother for advice as growing up in the post war era with no less than eleven siblings she knew all about feeding a large family on a budget. She told me that as long as my larder was full with the staples such as flour, sugar, eggs, milk, potatoes and tins almost any meal could be created in minutes.

She was right of course as pancakes replaced the cinnamon grahams, with a cost of just four pence each they were a humongous hit.  Simply mixing flour, one egg and milk fed all five of us for hours.

She also told me the secret of chicken and how with a little time many meals can be made from one or two. As a large family I’d buy three chickens when on offer for three for ten pounds, I’d chop off the legs and wings and breasts then lightly simmer the carcass with the celery that could no longer be used, carrot tops and peelings, parsnip peelings and garlic.

Once any remaining meat turned white I’d remove it and continue to boil the contents. Then I’d make a stew with the meat I’d salvaged (there’s quite a lot left on a chicken carcass even if you have removed the important bits) and stew with the parsnips, carrots and celery I’d peeled earlier.

Flour and butter would make great dumplings mixed with a little water. The boiled carcasses would be strained to make a posh consommé to eat with homemade bread. The breasts would be used in a stir-fry, a curry or made into homemade chickenKiev’s (using stale bread for breadcrumbs) and the legs and wings would be marinated in herbs from the garden and roasted before served with a potato salad.

Of course the family would become sick of chicken after three days so I took to preparing them as soon as I bought them and storing the separate bits in the freezer. You should see how far I can make stretch a shoulder of pork!




(Guest Post by Martina Mercer)

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