UK thrifty mum-of-three Danielle Ross, has garnered a legion of online followers after wowing friends with her healthy budget meals.
Feeding a family of five and her dogs for just £38 a week (NZ$65), she has clocked up over 38,000 followers on Facebook.
The self-described “budget queen” is now saving hundreds of pounds a month.
Mrs Ross, 30, is a spa host at a local spa and has three young sons and a 35-year-old husband, David.
She told SWNS.com: “If I wasn’t sticking to a budget I would be spending £600 a month. And my friends spend that much.
“I have got no idea how so many people ended up following it – it was only meant to be a little thing to share with my friends and families and I wanted to put some recipes on there.
“It started with two people following and has gone up and up.
“We are just a completely normal family on a pretty normal budget, it is just about helping reducing costs here and there.
“We are saving for a house so every penny counts.”
Mrs Ross, who lives in Colchester, said her top tips were to plan out the family’s meals for the week before she goes shopping and avoiding expensive pre-made jars of sauce.
She said: “I do try and make it from scratch because when you look at the ingredients in a basic tomato sauce it well have tomatoes, oregano and passata – you can make it yourself for a lot cheaper and then freeze it to use it when you need it.
“I do use budget supermarkets but I know I can do a £40 shop at Asda and Tesco as well, it is strange how quickly you get to know the price of things.
“Another good tip is to go for supermarket own brand items, for example a tin of tomatoes is going to taste the same, and do the same job whether they cost £1 or 20p.
“Lasagne is my favourite thing to cook because it is a massive family favourite.
“I also like to do fakeaways – things like a kebab with pita bread, meat and salad can be done healthily and cheaply. It doesn’t have to be expensive and fattening.”
Mrs Ross, 30, has to make meals for David, five-year-old twins Sam and Max, and her eldest son Ollie, eight, who is the fussiest eater in the family meaning some dinners have to be adapted, which can sometimes include mash potato being shaped into smiley faces.
Saving is in her blood, it would seem, with the mum-of-three revealing that she inherited her mad thrift skills from her mother, and will pass it down to her sons.
“At my local shop they used to sell 2p cans of beans but it was limited to five cans per person,” she remembers.
“So my mum would get people in the queue to stand there for her. So saving has always been with him (my son) – I’m just a budget queen.”
Her top money saving tips include:
“1. Cook with your kids. They’re always much more likely to eat it when they know what’s in it – or at least they think they know what’s in it.
“2. Having said that you should blend your vegetables. If you blend or grate them into your sources it’s a great way to bulk out meals on a budget. You can put lentils in tomato sauces.
“I never buy sources outright so spag bol can always be made thicker with vegetables in them.
“3. Never deviate from the shopping list. Everyone has shopping lists but never ever deviate from it. I used to look up prices before I even went out but now I’ve learned more about vegetables and ingredients I don’t need to because I can be flexible about products because I know what a £40 shop should look like.
“4. Always set aside for splurges. Every one deserves a treat now and then. Thrifty people can always get a voucher online to treat their families even when they’re saving money.
“5. Stay away from deals. Deals are always encouraging you to buy things for £2 but the own store brand will be something like 60p. Don’t be taken in when there is always cheaper things than the deal.
“6. Packed lunches. You can always save using packed lunch rather than buying lunch every day. It doesn’t have to be just sandwiches, but you can alternate with pasta so easily.”
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