Could you feed a family of four on: LESS THAN R100 A DAY?

Would you be able to slash your food spend to under R100 a day and still be able whip up tasty, healthy meals? We put a Joburg family to the test…

With the cost of living on the rise, there’s no doubt that we all need to do a little more to tighten our belts to make it through the month. Holistic weight-loss coach and blogger Laverne Botha (shellshockedmummy.com) has put together a seven-day meal plan for the Van der Merwe family that comes in at just R524,37 for a full week of meals.

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This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and a daily treat for two adults and their two fussy children. The meals are mostly gluten-free and they’re packed with fruit and vegetables, which is great for families who are looking to make healthier choices without breaking the bank. So, is it possible to spend less on groceries and still feed your family three square meals a day? The Van der Merwe family put Laverne’s budget-friendly menu to the test – here’s what happened…

Meet the testers: the Van der Merwes Naseera, 36, is an office services manager. She lives with her husband Jody, 39, an IT product specialist, son Adam, nine, and daughter Mila, four, in Roodepoort. It’s not cheap to feed a family of four, especially with rising food prices. I don’t stick to a weekly meal plan and I’ve noticed that my habit of regularly popping out to the supermarket to pick up lunch and a few ‘essentials’ is stretching my grocery budget further than it needs to. I’m guilty of going into the shops with a mental list, but when I’m strolling down the aisles, I pick up impulse buys, like the odd packet of biscuits, or a slab of chocolate to nosh after dinner.

Also shocking is the amount of food that goes to waste; leftovers often end up in the bin, along with veggies and meat we haven’t used. When I tallied it all up, I was overspending by R500 each week on food we really didn’t need! So I wondered: could slashing my grocery bill really be as simple as following a low-cost menu plan, with smart tweaks to use up leftovers? When I first saw Laverne’s menu, I was sceptical. Yes, the meals sounded tasty and it was a lot healthier than what we might usually have, but would my fussy children eat what was on offer? And could it really cost me less than R100 per day to feed all four of us? I was still quite hesitant about being able to feed my family on Laverne’s strict budget, so I did the maths and added up all the costs. To my amazement, it all checked out.

Laverne’s menu is worked out using staples you’re likely to have in your pantry so, after ticking off what I already had (in fact, it turned out to be a fair amount, like peanut butter and oats), I headed off to the supermarket with my list to buy the fresh meat and veggies, and the items that I don’t often keep at home, like puff pasty. At the till, I knew that I’d spent far less than the 500-odd rand I was supposed to. I was surprised to see that, because I already had some of the staples in my pantry, the total only came to R250,50 – a fraction of what I would usually pay at the shops. With day one of the menu looming, I worried I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

I know my way around the kitchen but I tend to fall back on my fail- safe dishes – and the menu would involve cooking with a few ingredients I don’t use regularly, like maize meal. Plus, I couldn’t count on the kids embracing a new way of eating – they’re used to things like fish fingers and oven chips and it’s a daily struggle to get them to eat veg. The week ahead would push my family out of our comfort zone: no convenience food or takeaway coffee, prepping three meals (and a treat!) every day, and no takeaways.

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