Day One: Feed your family challenge
How cheaply can I feed my family of four without sacrificing taste or nutrition?
Have you ever wondered how other families feed themselves without breaking the bank? This week you can find out by reading our four-part budgeting series. On Day One, meet Laura Haugh, who shares how she feeds her family of four
Feeding a family is a costly business, especially in these straitened times, and making sure everyone gets enough nutrition is a job in itself. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver caused waves last week by saying people with lower incomes don't feed their families properly, yet surely austerity is affecting what is being served up on everyone's tables, regardless of their incomes.
We set four Dublin families the challenge of providing a balanced diet without breaking the bank – and from today until Friday you can read the results of what exactly a family can enjoy at mealtimes when they set out to make every cent spent on food count.
Laura Haugh is owner of www.mummypages.ie and is married to Ross and has two children – James (4) and Lucy (2). Laura has documented the food her family ate within a five-day period.
As a busy mum who works part-time, I try to offer my family dishes that are reasonably nutritious, easy and quick to make, or can be batch-cooked and frozen. All dinner leftovers are frozen and re-used. I get my mealtime inspiration from the recipe section on the mummy pages.ie website. I have found that, because they are tried and tested recipes recommended by mums all over Ireland, they tend to be a safe bet.
There's a clever tool where you can add recipes to your own virtual cookbook so you can quickly build up your own collection of recipes that work with the family.
My children are a little fussy, so I try to sneak vegetables into their food where possible. I also try to cook the same or similar food for the whole family, as I discovered that my children eat better when we eat together.
My son James sometimes struggles with his bowel movements, so I try to make sure that he eats plenty of fruits that contain soluble fibre and I avoid bananas with him. I have found that a teaspoon or two of milled flaxseed goes unnoticed in his cereal and yogurts, but is very effective at keeping things moving. I also have to make sure that he is drinking enough fluids, so I buy the kids fun water bottles, which is not very economical when tap water is arguably just as good, but for some reason he's happier to drink it than when it is in a normal beaker or cup.
I tend to buy own-brand supermarket groceries for some staple items like dry pasta, some tinned items, fresh fruit and vegetables and raw meat.
However, there are certain brands that I prefer to buy both from a taste perspective and their better nutritional value, such as breakfast cereals.
If the kids are very well behaved, they are allowed to have a treat of one or two jelly sweets at the weekend. My preference are those with no sugar or artificial colours, such as the Natural Confectionery Company jelly sweets.