Frugal Mum cooks tasty meals for family of five for less than £1

·Lifestyle Writer, Yahoo Life UK
·7-min read
CATERS NEWS (PICTURED L-R Natalie and son Fin) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays. (CATERS)
Spending savy mum Natalie Riley feeds her children cheap but delicious meals every month. (Caters)

A mum rustles up meals for her family that cost less than £1 but are still delicious and imaginative, thanks to the frugal skills she's developed over the years.

Mum of three Natalie Riley, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to eat well but also manages to keep food costs low so her family are able to enjoy more activities and holidays.

The 39-year-old cooks for her husband Tim, 41, and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, cheaply and effectively by making a monthly meal plan to stop her from overspending on unnecessary items, which in turn will also prevent food waste.

CATERS NEWS (PICTURED L-R Tim, Natalie, Felicity and Freya together) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays. (caters)
The meals Riley feeds her family each week consist of one meat-free, one chicken, one mince, one pasta, an easy shop-bought pizza, a roast dinner and a fish meal. (Caters)

Riley, a social worker, explained how she first developed her penny saving skills: "When my first child was born I was 20 years old and needed to learn to live on a budget.

"I was a student at the time, me and my husband had a limited budget. I learnt to not waste anything and shop around for the best deals.

Watch: How to save money on a low income

"This normally included only buying seasonal fruit and vegetables, looking around for reduced items or buying my meat from the butchers in bulk at the beginning of the month which normally works out more cost-effective than buying at the supermarket."

"I have just continued with this ever since then."

Read more: Cost-conscious woman shares tips for saving £500 per month

CATERS NEWS (PICTURED One of the meals Natalie has cooked from her savvy shops) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays.(CATERS)
Riley likes to make her family Greek chicken kebab. (Caters)

One of her top tips for being able to cook meals for your family for under £1 remains to only buy seasonal vegetables and meat once a month from the butchers.

Evidently getting her money's worth, she said "We have a meat factory shop in our town so I normally buy 2kg of mince, 2kg of pork steaks, 2kg of chicken breasts, 2kg of sausages, 2 whole chickens and 2kg of stewing beef each month which normally costs me £40.

By then only buying seasonal vegetables, which she says tend to be cheaper, she's able to bulk out her meals healthily without a high price tag.

Read more: 30 ways to save cash: Brits battle cost of living crisis with these top hacks

CATERS NEWS (PICTURED One of the meals Natalie has cooked from her savvy shops) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays. SEE CATERS COPY
Individual cottage pies are one of the meals the family eats every month. (Caters)

"I also stick to the recommended serving sizes for meat as we often eat more than we need," she added, as another way to keep the cost down.

"We also try to make one or two vegetarian meals a week. I tend to keep a well-stocked stock cupboard which includes tinned tomatoes, beans, rice and pasta all from basic ranges."

Another of Riley's top money-saving tips is to cook all of her specific ingredients at once, which she says saves her money on energy (and presumably time), then diving the ingredients up and developing them into different meals.

Read more: How to save a fortune on household energy bills

CATERS NEWS (PICTURED One of the meals Natalie has cooked from her savvy shops) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays. SEE CATERS COPY
Riley's heart-warming Bean chilli dish. (Caters)

Showing how this works, she said, "If I am making mince meals I will cook them all at once which saves energy. For example, I will fry 1kg of mince and mix with some finely chopped onions, celery and carrots and then add in 250g of lentils.

"I split this into three pans and in one pan I will add tinned tomatoes, passata, mushrooms, garlic and Italian herbs for bolognese. In the next pan, I will add 2 tins of kidney beans, a beef stock cube and tinned tomatoes, paprika, cumin and chilli powder."

She added, "You can also add in any extra veggies you have to bulk it out. In the third pan, I will add in extra carrots, beef stock cubes and simmer for savoury mince for cottage pie. I then freeze these in meal-size portions and then I can just defrost and make up fresh."

CATERS NEWS (PICTURED One of the meals Natalie has cooked from her savvy shops) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays. SEE CATERS COPY
Riley uses pittas for pizza bases. (Caters)

Other hacks she swears by is to "shop around and look for yellow or reduced stickers" and store food efficiently.

"If I am lucky enough to find meat or fish then I freeze it in portions. I also blanch and freeze fresh vegetables. I took advantage of the reduced price vegetables over Christmas which I blanched and froze, I still have a few of these left," she said.

"And I have stored potatoes in a brown potato sack which has kept them fresh and stopped them from sprouting."

One of the cheapest meals Riley makes is spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce, which needs two tins of basic chopped tomatoes at 28p a tin, a small onion from a big bag at 5p, two garlic cloves at around 5p, salt and pepper, a few basil leaves from the plant in her kitchen, and spaghetti from the basics range at 20p a back. This totals 88p to feed a family of four.

CATERS NEWS (PICTURED One of the meals Natalie has cooked from her savvy shops) This savvy mum cooks delicious meals for her family that cost less than £1 thanks to her frugal shopping habits. Mum-of-three, Natalie Riley, 39, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, likes to ensure that her family eats well for less and uses her savvy skills to create meals for less than £1. Natalie cooks for her husband, Tim, 41 and children, Fin, 19, Freya, 17, and Felicity, 13, and makes a monthly meal plan to keep organised and ensure she doesn't overspend on unnecessary items. She says that she likes to eat well while also keeping food costs low so that they have more to spend on activities and holidays. (caters)
Riley's spaghetti with tomato sauce. (Caters)

She said, "People can be surprised at the low cost of the items when I have made my meals. I think it's all about keeping things well presented using vibrant produce - and well cooked."

While she makes a monthly meal plan and sticks to it, the family can rotate the meals around if they don't fancy eating something on a particular set day, to keep things interesting, with meals each week consisting of a a meat-free meal, a chicken meal, a mince meal, a pasta meal, an easy meal such as a shop-bought pizza, a roast dinner and a fish meal.

Watch: Want to Go on Vacation More Often? Be a Frugal Traveler

Read more: How I saved £15,000 to buy a house in just two and a half years'

While she spends £40 on the meat a month, she said a well-stocked food cupboard would normally cost her £20 for the pasta, rice and tinned items, then spending an average of £40 a week on food like vegetables, cereals, eggs, flour, fruit, and fridge items like ham, cheese, yoghurts and milk.

"So in total that would be around £220-£250 a month. This works out at £50 per person for five people so £10 a week each which I think is good for how well we eat.

"I like showing our children that it is possible to eat well and healthily on a budget."

Natalie's budget meals:

Spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce

To feed 4

Pack of basic spaghetti - 20p

2 tins of value chopped tomatoes - 57p

A clove of garlic - Pennies

Small onion chopped - 10p

A few basil leaves from plant in the kitchen. Season with salt and pepper.

Bean chilli

2 tins of mixed beans at 55p a tin

A carton of passata - 35p

A small onion - 10p

A handful of frozen mixed peppers - 20p as approximately 1/3 of the bag

A tin of chopped tomatoes 28p

Seasonings to taste: paprika, cumin and chilli powder

Serve with 1/2 pack of basic rice at 45p a pack and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Pitta pizza

Pitta bread (5 for 30p but you can normally find these reduced very often and freeze)

Tomato purée - pennies

1/4 ball of mozzarella - 10p

Garlic powder and Italian herbs

Any bits left in the fridge such as tomatoes, ham, peppers etc

Top the pitta and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so

Individual cottage pies

250g of mince (bulk bought but works out at £1.25 for 250g)

200g of lentils - 40p

A large onion - 20p

Gravy made with gravy granules and a beef stock cube

Mash made with1/2 pack of potatoes - 45p

Topped with 100g of grated cheese at 50p and served with1/4 pack of mixed vegetables - 25p

Greek chicken kebabs

Boneless chicken thighs - £2 on offer

Greek salad made with 1/2 a lettuce - 20p, a red onion 10p, three salad tomatoes 30p, cucumber 20p

A bag of frozen fries at 79p

A pack of flatbreads at £1

Tzatziki made with Greek yoghurt, bottled lemon juice, garlic granules, dried mint and cucumber diced, around 60p

A block of feta - £1

Additional reporting Caters.