Mum on maternity leave challenges her kids to cook six family meals for just £37 to teach them how to budget

A MUM on maternity leave devised a ‘six days six meals’ challenge to teach her kids how to cook for the family on a budget, minimising food waste. 

Sarah Chick, 32, lives with partner Justin and their six kids in Dorset, and decided to use the lockdown to teach her daughters, aged 11 and 12,  how to whip up family meals using what they’ve got in the fridge. 

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She came up with the ‘six meals six days’ challenge, getting her eldest to cook for the whole family after receiving their weekly food box.

Sarah told "I wanted to use our time in lockdown wisely and make the most of the children while life has seemingly slowed down for everyone right now.

"The two older children are 11 and 12. When I was doing dinner one evening they were really inquisitive and were asking me, 'how do I manage to feed so many people and still have food left over? How do I know how much to cook for everyone?’

"My idea came to me when I was due a delivery of fruit and veg.

“The only way I could answer the questions they were asking was to show them. I was taught to cook from a young age so I thought we could use this time to educate them with essential skills for life.

"So I took everything I had out of the fridge, the freezer and cupboards, put it on the side and asked them if they wanted to try a challenge of making six dinners for six days to feed six of us, with minimal waste! Then it became the ‘Six Days, Six Dinners' challenge.”

The kids jumped at the idea, and Sarah told them she wouldn’t be helping them, but they could ask her for advice and she would deal with all the hot pots and pans. 

The mum was unsure what the family would end up eating, or if they’d get bored half-way through, but says the pair were “pretty excited” about the challenge. 

For the first night Sarah said they picked an “obvious” meal of gammon, egg, chips, peas and pineapple. 

Sarah continued: “They had lots of other ideas. A curry was one of them but I advised them to take each day as it came and see what they were left with after each meal.

"On day two, my 11-year-old wanted to make a macaroni cheese dish but added broccoli, onion, bacon, and mushrooms. I was skeptical but it was lovely!

“On day three, it was a roast chicken dinner. On day four, they got stuck and they couldn’t see an obvious meal for what they had left, so I asked them to write some ideas down.

"They were watching Disney’s Ratatouille and my eldest came running out saying she had a meal idea in her head.

“For day five and six, they had only ingredients for pizzas so it was pizzas for the final two days with homemade chips, but it was lovely.”

Weekly ingredients

Vegetable box: £16.50

  • 4 large parsnips
  • 6 large carrots
  • 6 peppers
  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 large broccoli head
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 1 large red onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Squash
  • Garlic Bulb
  • Lime

 Tesco: £20.69

  • 1 large whole chicken £3.70
  • 1 unsmoked gammon £3.40
  • 2 blocks Crownfields Cheese £3.58
  • 1 bag macaroni pasta £1
  • 1 bag plain flour £.045
  • 4 pints semi-skimmed milk £1.10
  • 1 bag potatoes £1
  • 1 bag of 3 peppers £0.95
  • 10 bacon rashers (smoked) £.195
  • 1 bag caster sugar £1.15
  • 1 large pot Tesco gravy £1
  • Frozen peas £0.61
  • Rice £1
  • Pineapple slices £0.80

She hailed the experiment as a success, and said it’s taught her girls about budgeting money and food prep.

Sarah said: "The girls have said that the challenge taught them to really think about the amount of food they were using and that if you are creative enough you can pretty much make a meal from anything.

"It also taught them just how much work actually goes into a meal in general but also for a large family..

"For us it was great because it gave the girls a slice of independence but also brought us even closer as a family doing these activities together."

Sarah also shared some other tips for saving money and making meals go further, ensuring there’s little food waste in their household.

The mum explained: "The children, like many others, constantly ask for food throughout the day, so they each have a daily basket with fruit, a chocolate biscuit, a water bottle, a pack of crisps, and some veg sticks in. Once it’s gone it’s gone and they don’t get anything else.

"This has helped us save money too as they have to think if they really want to eat or if they’re just bored.”

And she said cooking from scratch is the way forward if you want to save a few quid on your weekly shop.

She added: “To save time if we are having say a dish that requires chips, we will make the chips the night before and then leave them in water until we need to cook them.

"To save waste on things like vegetables we will often leave the skins on and if we have cauliflower we use the leaves too.

"My top tip would be to meal plan though and really only buy what’s necessary. We are home growing a lot of vegetables this year.”


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And this mum shares her tips to slash your weekly food bill and how to make one chicken stretch to four family meals.

In other news Nando’s has shared the exact recipe for its spicy rice and macho peas so you can whip up a feast at home.

Meanwhile we revealed how to whip up a Nutella cake in your slow cooker with 3 ingredients.

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