Thrifty first-time mother reveals how she makes up to 33 meals a week for £1 a portion

A new mother has revealed how she cooks up to 33 meals a week costing £1.06 per portion after she overhauled her finances following a pay cut.    

Katie Watkins, 31, from South Wales, changed her spending habits after her income dropped to statutory maternity pay following the birth of her daughter Elsie, two. 

Husband Luke, a second-year trainee paramedic, and Katie, who is pregnant with their second child, created a spreadsheet, labelled with incomings and outgoings, and went through each area of spending to shave off as much expenditure as possible.

In a bid to declutter, Katie turned to online auction sites to earn extra money by clearing out the house and selling everything she could find.

Katie Watkins, (pictured with husband Luke) 31, from South Wales, changed her spending habits after going on maternity leave 

And Katie, who reveals how her salary at 21 was double what it is now, identified how food was the easiest way to reduce her spending causing her to change how and where she shopped.  

Before daughter Elsie, Katie and Luke spent around £70 on a bi-weekly shop but have now managed to cut this down to £35 – despite having another mouth to feed. 

Katie spends her Sunday meal-prepping by making lunches and dinners for each day of the week after bulk buying meat from online food retailer musclefood. 

The frugal mother creates seven different dishes including six portions of spaghetti and meatballs, 64p per portion, and sausage pasta bake, 71p per portion, along with four portions of Morrocan Beef costing £3.08.

How Katie makes 33 meals costing on average £1.06 per portion 

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs 

For six: £3.86 

Per Serving: 64p 

Musclefood Meatballs £2.60

2 tinned toms £0.56

2 tbsp tomato puree £0.05

1 onion £0.08

2 tsp dried oregano £0.25

1 clove garlic £0.03

 

Pinch of pepper £0.01

1tsp chilli flakes £0.02

250ml stock £0.03

340g spaghetti £0.14

tbsp parmesan £0.05

tbsp parley £0.04 

 

Moroccan Beef with Rice 

For four: £3.08

Per serving 77p

Musclefood Diced Beef £2.28

2 tsp paprika £0.02

3 tsp ground cinnamon £0.05 

Tbsp parsley £0.04

280g rice £0.13

2 tinned tomatoes £0.56

One-pot Chicken and Mushroom  

For five: £5.65

Per serving: £1.13

4 Musclefood Chicken Breasts £4.12

2 olive oil £0.09

8oz mushrooms sliced £0.54

1 cup uncooked white rice £0.09

3 cloves garlic chopped £0.08

2 teaspoons dried oregano £0.25

2 1/4 cup chicken stock £0.03

1/4 teaspoon pepper £0.01

frozen broccoli £0.38 

 

Chilli Beef with Rice and Vegetables 

For three: £7.56

Per serving: £2.52

2 Musclefood Steaks £6.47

300g broccoli £0.30

100g sweet onion £0.04

225g carrots £0.11

1 tbsp olive oil £0.05

1tbsp (5g) ginger £0.03

1.5tsp(4g)cornstarch £0.01

220g cooked rice £0.08

10g chopped green onions £0.06

salt&pepper £0.01

1tbsp(8g) sesame seed £0.07

 

10g chopped green onions £0.06

salt&pepper £0.01

1tbsp(8g) sesame seed £0.07

For the sauce: 

60ml soy sauce £0.21

1tsp srircha £0.05

60ml water

1tbsp(5g) minced ginger £0.03

1tsp(3g)cornstarch £0.01

1.5tbsp brown sugar £0.03 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry 

For four: £4.82

Per serving: £1.21

4 Musclefood chicken breasts £4.12

2 onions £0.16

70g frozen pea £0.05

2 cloves garlic £0.06

1 tsp tumeric £0.01

2 tsp cumin £0.03

2 tbsp curry powder £0.05 

 1/2 tbsp ginger £0.01

1/2 green chilli £0.04

salt and pepper £0.01

400 ml chicken stock £0.05

70g tomato puree £0.05

15g cornflour £0.02

280g rice £0.13 

1 tbsp garam masala £0.03 

 

Sausage Pasta Bake 

For five: £3.57

Per serving: 71p

12 Musclefood Sausages £1.95

1 tbsp olive oil £0.04

1 onion, diced £0.08

2 garlic cloves, chopped £0.06

400g tin chopped tomatoes £0.28

300ml/10½fl oz vegetable stock £0.03

50g/1¾oz butter £0.30

50g/1¾oz plain flour £0.02

500ml/18fl oz milk £0.26

400g/14oz penne pasta £0.23

salt and pepper £0.01

cheese 70g £0.31 

 

Chicken, Rice and Vegetables  

For six: £6.51

Per serving: £1.09

4 Musclefood Chicken Breasts £4.12

420g rice £0.20

Red onion 0.08

Courgette 0.45

 

Peppers 0.66

Carrots 0.28

Cherry Toms 0.54

Olive Oil 0.18 

 

Total: £35.05 for 33 meals 

Average cost per meal: £1.06       

Katie reveals how she uses different meat to create a range of meals including spaghetti and meatballs (far right)

Katie reveals how she uses different meat to create a range of meals including spaghetti and meatballs (far right) 

Katie spends her Sundays meal-prepping for the week ahead

She uses musclefood to bulk buy her meat

Katie spends her Sundays meal-prepping for the week ahead (left). She uses musclefood to bulk buy her meat (right) 

And when bulk cooking, Katie ensures she weighs each portion to ensure the family doesn’t overeat, because Luke – who is a trainee paramedic – needs to keep on top of his fitness and diet.  

Katie set up a blog and Instagram page KatieSaves to keep herself accountable for her saving goals, and to also tap into Instagram’s money-saving community. 

She said: ‘I started off my Instagram page and blog because I knew there was a great community on there, and it also helps me keep track of my money goals.

The mother-of-one also weighs out ingredients to ensure the family does not overeat

She uses fresh ingredients and a range of spices

The mother-of-one also weighs out ingredients to ensure the family does not overeat. She uses fresh ingredients and a range of spices

Katie ensures the meals are nutritious so that husband Luke, who is training as a paramedic, keeps on top of his fitness levels. Pictured: Chicken with roasted vegetables and rice

Katie ensures the meals are nutritious so that husband Luke, who is training as a paramedic, keeps on top of his fitness levels. Pictured: Chicken with roasted vegetables and rice 

‘I share my savings goals and the tips and tricks I use, because it means that I then have to stick to them as people are watching me do it.’

Katie’s £35-a-week spend 

Ingredients for bulk cooking to make two £1 lunches and two £1 dinners for two people per day: £28

 Milk, bread and other essentials: £7

In an Instagram post last year, Katie revealed how she hasn’t had a haircut since 2017 and last bought new underwear three years ago – simple sacrifices to enable her to work part-time and allow Luke to pursue his paramedic career. 

The mother-of-one said: ‘I have lots of people message me saying how much I help them and that’s such a nice feeling, because it means that I’m not just doing this all for me.

‘Food is the biggest cost to us after bills, so it was the most obvious area for us to try and cut down. 

‘We do still enjoy a takeaway once a month, but that’s the motivation to stick to our meal plan.

‘I’m not an adventurous cook so I stick to what I know and things that I know will work well when it comes to bulk cooking. 

Katie’s top saving tips

1. Budget – ‘Knowing exactly what’s coming in and going out of your bank account each month means that it is a lot easier to keep control of your spending. 

Budgeting is now key to everything I do and it’s easy to adjust depending on if you’re saving for anything in particular.’

2. Meal planning – ‘This works hand in hand with batch cooking. Knowing what food you’re going to be cooking, and when, means that you don’t spend money on food that will be wasted or sit in cupboards for a while. 

‘It also means that you don’t succumb to the temptation of convenience food such as takeaways and meal deals.’

3. Cashback – ‘These apps and websites are becoming more and more popular but I’m still surprised about the amount of people who don’t know about them. 

‘You simply go about your online shopping as normal, but earn cash back with nearly every click.’ 

‘The musclefood meat is of such great quality, meaning it goes so much further.

‘I only had to use two chicken breasts for three portions instead of the usual three if I was buying from a supermarket, which can soon add up when you consider the price of chicken!

‘I also love using mince sauces because I can really bulk them out with veg and lentils which make the portions go a lot further.’

Katie reveals how she uses the musclefood chicken breasts to make her meals, such as slow cooker chicken curry (pictured) go further

Katie reveals how she uses the musclefood chicken breasts to make her meals, such as slow cooker chicken curry (pictured) go further

Katie also uses lentils and vegetables alongside meat to bulk her meals out and pack them with nutrients

Katie also uses lentils and vegetables alongside meat to bulk her meals out and pack them with nutrients 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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