A few weeks ago I wrote about food poverty in the UK, and today I’m looking at the other side of that coin – the national average spent on food; specifically on my teenager. Using the NatWest Child Cost Calculator you are able to check out what the national average is for things like food, clothing, schooling, entertainment etc, and it covers all children’s ages from birth to 17.
With a 15 year old teenager in the house, it tells me that the national average is £50 spent on food, which I find quite high, I’m sure we don’t spend too much more as a family per week!
Over the years, we have managed to bring our weekly spends on food down a fair amount, mainly attributed to moving to shopping online. This means less impulse buys (I’m the guilty one there!) and the time to evaluate “do we really need x, y, z this week?” We also buy own brand products which are often cheaper than the branded products. Making use of special offers, like buy one get one free, or three for two, are only a saving if you use the products! It’s pointless buying three of something if you’ll only ever really use the one – unless it stores well in the cupboard or freezer. Batch cooking is also a good way to make use of reduced goods like meat and fresh veg – make a big pot of something and freeze half of it for a later meal.
Our local supermarket is Tesco. We have shopped there for years, and whilst we have tried other supermarkets – Asda, Morrisons and Aldi, we feel that we don’t save enough by going to these other shops to justify the petrol and time expense of travelling to them (they’re further afield)
Our shopping bill total for this week was £71.87, after £7.64 was taken off in promotions. We also took advantage of free delivery this weekend, which is normally £6. We actually do the click and collect which our store offers as a free service, so never pay for delivery! That total works out to be about £24 per person, so roughly half of what the national average is. To get a true measure, we’d have to look at the year as a whole I think, as some weeks we spend less, due to having stock in the freezer or cupboards, other weeks, it’s more because of a special meal, or needing to stock up.
Our weekly meals look something like this:
Breakfasts: Cereal or toast for hubs and the boy. (I have one of my meal replacements, which is paid separate to our shopping budget)
Lunch: Hubs takes fruit, salads, soups and crackers to work. The boy is not on school dinners at the moment and comes home for lunch – some days; other’s he goes out with his friends in town and has lunch with them. This comes out of his dinner money, which is around a tenner a week. It’s up to him how he spends that. If he has lunch at home, it’ll be a sandwich with crisps and fruit, or something he throws in the microwave! I again, have a meal replacement.
Dinner: This is the one meal we do eat together. Typical dinners for us always include a huge bowl of salad, jacket potato or couscous with either chicken, pork chops, steak or fish. We also cook family favourites like spag bol, chilli or fajitas.
The cost of raising a child is not cheap, but with careful shopping I don’t think you have to break to the bank to do it! I’m pleased to see we come in well under the national average, and looking through the other sections – I’m glad to see we don’t spend as much on things like transport to school (free) or have to pay school fees (other than a nominal donation per term). I think come September, when the school year begins again, I might keep track of what we do spend on our child – it’s not really something I’ve thought about in too much detail in the past, as buying things for my son is part and parcel of being his mum!
How do you fare on the NatWest Child Cost Calculator? Are there some surprises for you? Are you above, below or average? Let me know in the comments!