Life is hard, no more so than for parents up and down the country trying to make money go that extra bit further, as well as finding the time to bring up a family.
We decided to kick off Spring with a series of blog posts, showcasing real-life tips to save parents time and money throughout the rest of the year. These parenting life hacks are all beautifully simple, designed to make life a whole lot easier on a budget.
We’re starting with parenting life hacks for feeding your family, so called upon some of the thriftiest parent bloggers to share their tips.
First up is Jocelyn Reading, mum of two and author at The Reading Residence, who is super organized with these nifty hacks when it comes to feeding her family:
Put together a meal plan each week:
Jocelyn recommends spending just 10 minutes each week planning out all mealtimes for the family. This makes it easier to create the weekly shopping list and stick to budget, rather than being tempted by those end-of-isle ‘price slashes’.
If you’ve tried this previously but always lack inspiration, check out the free Change 4 Life Smart Recipes app, which makes it easy to plan healthy meals for the week ahead.
Always have snacks to hand:
As part of the meal planner, don’t forget to include snacks so it’s easy to cater for needs between meal times. As Jocelyn says, these don’t have to be expensive and instead of getting individual packs of health snacks like raisins, buy a big bag at the start of the week.
Shop online to keep the cost down and reduce wastage:
By shopping online, it’s easy to not get distracted by those other tempting offers and it takes just a click to delete an item from your basket so you stick to your budget. By using services like MySupermarket.co.uk you can also compare prices so you get the best deal and it cuts down on time, leaving you more time for fun with the kids.
Get the kids involved so they eat what’s on the plate:
Jocelyn found the meal planner to be even more successful when the kids also have an input, as they’ve had a choice on what they’ll be eating. You can also take this further by getting kids involved with the prep and cooking, leaving no excuse for them not to eat their dinner!
Get yourself a hand-held vacuum:
Rather than getting the main vacuum out every time it looks like you’ve had a food bomb explode on the floor, Jocelyn thinks a hand-held vacuum is a must for parents with younger children. They don’t cost much and you may even find the kids like using it so clean up their own mess.
With five grown up children of her own and four grandchildren, Elaine Livingstone from Fun as a Gran has a lifetime’s worth of tips and tricks to make life easier as a parent. Like Jocelyn, Elaine also believes getting the kids (or grandchildren) involved really helps to cut down food wastage as the kids tend to eat what they’ve prepared.
Elaine also had these further parenting life hacks, which should help to make feeding your family cheaper and easier:
Buy and cook in bulk:
There are always offers on food close to it’s expiry date and Elaine suggests hunting this down in your supermarket to keep the costs down. You can then cook it in bulk, freeze what you don’t need and you’ve got portions ready for the rest of the month.
This helps to cut down on washing up as you only have to reheat rather than starting from scratch each time, as well as making it easy to still put a home-cooked meal on the table on those busier days.
Look out for what’s in season:
There’s an abundance of winter and spring veg in the stores, packed full of nutritional goodness for kids and offering some variety to each meal. Elaine suggests using the leftovers to make into a soup, reducing wastage and providing another quick and healthy meal for the family.
Get yourself a slow-cooker:
Elaine finds the slow-cooker to be a must-have piece of kit for any family. Rather than opting for an expensive takeaway when you’re too tired to cook after a long day, you can pop something in the slow cooker in the morning so it’s ready for when you get in. This works perfectly if you know you’ll be in late due to after-school activities and will have the kids dying of hunger.
Another parent who is a fan of buying and cooking in bulk for the cost savings it brings is mum and blogger from 92three30.com, Erica Price.
Erica has these further parenting life hacks for feeding your family which should help to save you more time, and most importantly, more money.
Take note of what’s in your fridge:
Anything in your fridge is likely to be perishable, which means it’s the most likely food to be wasted. By knowing what’s in your fridge, it helps to cut the cost of food wastage as well as making it easier for when you do your weekly meal plans.
Make packed lunch for the kids AND yourself:
Erica’s family saves £15 a week by not paying £2 a day for school dinners for her two children, as well as cutting out the cost of shop-bought sandwiches. As Erica’s example shows, packed lunches don’t just have to be for kids and can help to really cut the costs of feeding your whole family.
Take a picnic for your family day out:
Following on from packed lunches for during the week, Erica also suggests cutting down your food outgoings further by taking a picnic with you for those big family days out.
Not only does it mean you don’t have to pay the hefty prices at the food kiosks, it also saves you the time of queuing and keeps the kids happy if they’re hungry before lunch time.
Last up we have some great parenting life hacks courtesy of Louise Edwards from parenting blog, My Gorgeous Boys. Like many others, she’s had great success with meal plans and also trusts by her handy slow-cooker.
A couple of Louise’s other tips include:
Finger foods for fussy toddlers:
After finding meals were often rejected by a fussy toddler and the food wasted, Louise tried finger foods with her first born and had great success. This can be anything from breadsticks and dips, to cut up wedges of fruit – it helps to cut down on waste and stops you from slaving over a hot stove for hours.
Hold on to those old drink bottles:
Rather than buying an expensive bottle of water or juice for your kids on family days out, hold on to old plastic bottles and fill them with cordial. This turns the cost of a drink while you’re out from over £1 down to just a few pennies.
We hope that these parenting life hacks will help to cut down your outgoings, as well as making family meal times (and the preparation itself) easier. We’ve rounded up our top picks of the life hacks in the list below:
Our Top 5 Parenting Life Hacks for Feeding Your Family
1) Put together a meal plan each week to reduce food wastage
2) Buy and cook in bulk where you can to reduce costs and time spent cooking
3) Involve the kids with the prep work so meals are always eaten
4) Shop online so you stick to budget and save time (it’s also easier to check the fridge and cupboards so you don’t buy more than you need)
5) Avoid buying food out by always having snacks to hand and taking food/drink with you
Have you got any parenting life hacks not on the list? Share them below with other parents across the country.