From grocery strain to savings gain: Mum of nine reveals clever budgeting tips!

In today's economic landscape, managing household expenses, particularly groceries, poses a significant challenge for many families.

Amidst rising costs and fluctuating incomes, finding ways to stretch the budget without sacrificing quality or nutrition has become a paramount concern.

In light of these challenges, insights and strategies shared by experienced individuals offer invaluable guidance to those seeking to navigate the intricacies of budgeting and grocery shopping effectively.

Managing a household budget can be a challenge for anyone, but when you're feeding a family of eleven, it becomes a masterclass in frugal living.

Claire Hooker, a Canberra mum with nine children, has become something of a budgeting wizard, stretching her dollars to create meals that cost just $1.66 per serving.

The affordable price is essential for the Hookers, as their expanding family includes children aged six to 16.

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Canberra mum Claire Hooker revealed how she feeds her family of nine for under $1.66 per serving. Credits: Facebook / Claire Louise Hooker

Weekly, the family consumes a substantial nine litres of milk, two kilograms of cheese, and 24 rolls of toilet paper, just to name a few staples.

However, Claire is feeling the strain of increasing grocery expenses and is determined to trim costs while still enjoying quality time with her family.

‘While we don’t buy any luxuries any more, we do still have treats like popcorn for movie nights and ice cream,’ she shared.

‘We are a hard-working family, we are a team, and everyone helps each other out—no one ever goes without.’

The 37-year-old begins reducing her fortnightly grocery expenses even before she enters any stores.

This practice is vital, especially considering the family resides 45 kilometres away from the closest shopping centre.

Before their shopping excursion, Claire conducts an inventory of their current supplies, enlisting the help of her children to identify items requiring replenishment for the upcoming two weeks.

While the older children inspect the bathrooms for toiletries running low, Claire examines the pantry and refrigerator to assess what remains from their previous shopping trip.

Armed with a ‘bank’ of favourite bulk recipes, she compiles a grocery list, ensuring that the ingredients are scaled up to accommodate their large family of 11.

For instance, a roast dinner typically includes two whole chickens, 2 kilograms of potatoes, and 3 kilograms of assorted seasonal vegetables bought in bulk.

When preparing omelettes, Claire uses 24 eggs along with vegetables and the protein of her choice.

Pie nights feature three large family pies filled with a favoured mince mixture. Armed with her shopping list and meal plan, Claire heads off, usually to her nearest ALDI store.

‘I need a list,’ Claire remarked.

‘If you don’t, you just end up forgetting things, and because we live an hour away from the shop, we can’t just go back.’

Every two weeks, the financially savvy mother allocates a maximum of $800 for groceries, a figure she aims to decrease with each shopping trip.

Her top advice includes remaining vigilant for discounted stickers and budget-friendly cuts of meat, as well as being flexible enough to adapt the meal plan as needed.

‘Swapping fresh produce for frozen is good too,’ the mum suggested, highlighting how this flexibility has helped her save hundreds of dollars.

‘And when I can, usually about once a month, I try and go to the fresh fruit market where things are so much cheaper.’

The family is also fortunate to have a spacious backyard where they've established a vegetable garden, contributing to lowering their produce expenses.

Additionally, they've introduced chickens and ducks to their backyard, providing them with a daily supply of fresh eggs.

Claire mentioned that skilled bakers at their local church often provide the family with a loaf or two for the kids' lunches.

Her key advice includes embracing bulk purchases and finding ways to create multiple meals using the same ingredients.

‘Mince can be useful in so many ways: curries, pies, taco and spaghetti bolognese,’ she explained.

She also encouraged making the most of your freezer, noting that she frequently freezes items like bananas for baking or bulk broccoli for future dinners.

However, Claire quickly noted that purchasing in bulk isn't always the most economical option, advising shoppers to compare the per-item prices before adding items to their cart.

For indulgent treats like dessert, she occasionally adds a 1-kilogram tub of ice cream and berries to her trolley, which is enjoyed on ‘Dad's ice cream special’ nights, often consumed in one sitting.

Homemade popcorn is another inexpensive favourite for their Friday movie nights at home.

Claire emphasised that eating on a budget doesn't mean sacrificing enjoyment. She recommended exploring competitive stores, keeping an eye out for sales, and joining loyalty programs to maximise savings.

Even for birthdays and Christmas, the Hookers adhere to a strict budget and have already begun setting aside funds for the bustling December season.

Claire stressed that she still hunts for the best bargains when it comes to special occasion purchases.

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As Claire shared her savvy grocery budgeting tips for feeding her large family affordably, it's clear that careful planning and strategic shopping can make a significant difference in stretching the household budget.

Her emphasis on smart shopping habits and creative meal planning resonates with those seeking to maximise their grocery dollars.

Similarly, over at ALDI, another mum is championing budget-friendly meal planning and frugal feasting, demonstrating that economical shopping strategies are applicable across various household sizes and lifestyles.

With both Claire and the ALDI-savvy mum showcasing their knack for keeping grocery costs down without compromising on flavour or nutrition, it's evident that adopting similar approaches can lead to substantial savings for families of all sizes and generations.
Key Takeaways

  • Canberra mother-of-nine Claire Hooker shared her budgeting tips to keep her family’s meal cost under $1.66 per serving.
  • Claire saves money by bulk-buying, planning meals, and substituting pricey ingredients with more affordable or homegrown options.
  • She highlighted the importance of using a shopping list, taking inventory of household supplies, and adjusting meal plans based on available deals to cut costs further.
  • Claire utilises her freezer for storage, takes advantage of loyalty programs, and hunts for the best bargains to manage the budget for her large family’s needs effectively.
We'd love to hear from you, our savvy Seniors Discount Club members! What are your top tips for keeping grocery costs down? Share your wisdom in the comments below, and let's help each other save!
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Well done to this mum, it must be hard to feed such a large family on a strict budget. My biggest budget savings comes from shopping less frequently. I stretch out my visits to the supermarket as long as I can between shops, by using items I have at home until my pantry is almost empty. I top up fresh fruit in between from the small supermarket closer to home, it is usually a bit more expensive but I only buy what I need and the fuel savings by travelling about twelve kilometres less to get there and back compensate.
A 1 week menu with 4 portions of chips? This woman has 7 kids and can't cook. I would not feed myself that garbage, let alone my children. Also frozen chips are not cheap. This report is bs. Again.

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