Raising 11 children is not easy. A mum has revealed how she manages to feed her family for £1.90 a head per day. Claire Louise Hooker, 35, lives in rural Canberra, New South Wales, Australia, who is a home-school teacher and blogger, and her husband Mark, 39, a civil service worker. The couple are proud parents to Georgina, 13; Charlotte, 12; Franchesca, ten; Abigail, nine; twins Catherine and Elizabeth, eight; Rose, seven; Martina, five and Michael, three.
They shared how she keeps to a tight budget of just £630 a month to feed her family of 11, spending just £10.41 on dinner. She are forced to travel over 29 miles each shopping trip, due to the lack of shops in the rural town where her family lives. Claire said: “The budgets can go up and down when you consider birthdays, as they run from October to May, but for food, we always try and stick to £630 a month. We have to bulk buy a lot of items like bread, and raw meats including chicken and beef, as we tend to stick to a fortnightly shopping trip, so everything gets stored in my two fridge freezers and two pantries. Roast dinners and slow cooker meals always go a long way and are some of the cheapest budget meals to make. We can get two large chickens for £3.13 each, then all of the vegetables and other condiments totalling at £10.41 altogether for a Sunday Dinner for 11. We sometimes even have leftovers.”
She said: “Breakfasts alternate between cereals like Weetabix which we can get a few boxes of each month for £5.30, or they’ll have a fruit salad. We get plenty of fruit from oranges, pears, bananas and mangoes, or whatever is in season that month, for about £21 a fortnight. Sometimes they’ll have toast which is about 70p a loaf, we get about 28 each fortnight, or pancakes too. We actually have our own chickens, so if they want eggs for breakfast, they’re free. Lunch is usually something quick like cheese or ham sandwiches and some fruit, which comes to about £5.30 for everyone, we all eat together and discuss the school day. Dinner times usually consist of slow-cooked meals, or we’ll have big family portion-sized meals like a lasagne for £4.50, or spaghetti Bolognese which is about £2.60 for a big pack of mince, and a pack of dry spaghetti for 30p. I’ve found the best slow cooker meals to cook include pasta bakes and curries, as well as meat-heavy dishes like stews. Sometimes we’ll do taco Tuesdays to mix things up a bit. Or we’ll go out for a monthly meal which is about £80 for all of us, but we don’t tend to put that in the budget.”
Claire finds some of the best bargains by looking for reduced food items that can be frozen, as well as shopping at budget supermarket Aldi. Not only is Claire frugal with her shopping habits, but she also sticks to a tight budget during the holiday season, as well as planning days out as cheaply as possible. She said: “We try to go to the beach as much as possible which is a fun day out for all of us, and is completely free to do. The town we live in has lots of play areas for the kids to enjoy, and during the summer we set up a bouncy castle or waterslides for them to enjoy. We put an extra £550 aside for Christmas, and budget £30 for each child’s birthday, unless it’s a milestone birthday when they get given a little more.”