Save money on food during the school holidays

Recipes, family meal ideas and shopping tips for when you’re feeding the kids at home through the summer holidays.

Research shows that summer holidays can be even more expensive than Christmas time by the time you’ve paid for trips, treats and taken time off work. So check these ways for saving money and tips for making your money go further.

Food budget

•A good tip for saving money is to gather together a few of your usual grocery receipts (during term times) and add any other weekly costs like school lunches, then set yourself the same spend as a maximum for each week of the holidays. For inspiration, see A month of easy dinner ideas.

•Underline any usual grocery essentials you can skip so you can splash out on treats, eg a pack of ice lollies for a afternoon treat for your kids and their friends replacing biscuits you usually buy for an afterwork nibble.

•In the run up to the school holidays, look for offers on freezeable family favourites you can stock up on to spread your spending.


Food planner

•Draw up a calendar and map out meals for each day. Start with dishes guaranteed to keep everyone happy and dot these around the week’s schedule so the meals don’t get too samey.

•Plot in a few special family meals – these don’t have to cost much. Eg – a couple of nights when the kids cook for you (see 5 family fun recipes); and a ‘party in the garden’ lunch with the kids’ friends (even sandwiches and cucumber sticks seem more exciting if they’re served as a buffet).

•Think about easy-wins, like a tomato pasta sauce you can make a big batch of then spoon portions into freezable pots to use over the coming weeks.


Meal ideas

•‘Fast’ food – avoid demands for expensive takeaways. See Healthy family meals for easy recipe ideas such as potato wedges, homemade pizza and chicken nuggets.

•Savvy servings – keep lunchtimes easygoing by serving up finger food. Eg: a plateful of fillings the kids can add in any combination to halved pitta pockets, homemade fruit kebabs (put out cocktail sticks and a yoghurt dip with chopped up grapes, melon, apple etc), or small spoonfuls of tuna mayo served on top of rings of cucumber for a change from sandwiches.

•Beat fussy eating – you can keep family meals nutritious with these simple 5 dishes for fussy eaters.


Savvy tip

Boredom and tiredness can lead to arguments and tantrums. Make sure the kids don’t skip breakfast and at lunchtime give them meal options with lots of protein for energy (ham, tuna, egg, cheese).


Pass it on – school holiday snacks

Too many snacks will bust your food budget, so check out our tips and ideas for Savvy school holiday snacks.