Savvy mother-of-five challenges her children to make six family dinners for six days on a budget of just £1 to teach them how to meal prep with minimal waste
- Sarah Chick, 32, from Dorset, gave children cooking challenge during lockdown
- Took everything out of fridge, freezer and cupboards, and put them on the side
- Told them to try and make six dinners for six days to feed six – with minimal waste
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A thrifty mother has come up with a genius challenge to teach her children how to meal prep during lockdown on a budget of just £1 – with minimal waste.
Sarah Chick, 32, who is a mum-of five and stepmum of one and lives with her partner Justin and children in Dorset, decided to give her two oldest daughters a cooking challenge to teach them to budget and be creative during the coronavirus lockdown.
‘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,’ Sarah said, speaking to money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk.
‘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?’
Sarah Chick, 32, who is a mum-of five and stepmum of one from Dorset, came up with a genius challenge to teach her children (pictured) how to meal prep during lockdown
The savvy mother tasked the children with making six dinners for six days to feed six – with minimal waste. Pictured left, chicken roast, and right, gammon, chips, eggs and peas
The children got creative in the kitchen, and cooked everything from a hot pot (left) to pizza (right)
Sarah says the idea came to her when she was due a delivery of fruit and vegetables after sourcing a company during lockdown.
‘The only way I could answer the questions they were asking was to show them,’ she explained. ‘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.”
Sarah, who is currently on maternity leave, was uncertain how the challenge would go, but was sure her kids would learn a lot from the experiment.
‘I didn’t know how it would pan out, if they’d get bored, or if they would have disagreements,’ she said. ‘They were pretty excited and straight away started saying they could make all sorts of dishes.
‘I said I wouldn’t be helping them, only advising if they had a question, and obviously all the hot pots and pans were for me to sort out.
The thrifty mother says the children take it in turns to cook (pictured left, macaroni cheese), and the younger ones aged five and seven are in charge of cakes and puddings (pictured right)
After suggesting the challenge, Sarah (pictured) says the children were ‘pretty excited’ and straight away started saying they could make all sorts of dishes
The savvy homeowner took all of the ingredients (pictured) out of fridge, freezer and cupboards, and put them on the side so her children could see what they were working with
‘They picked out the obvious meal of a roast dinner and gammon, egg, chips and peas. 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 one, they made gammon, egg, chips, peas and pineapple. 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.
Vegetable box: £16.50
4 large parsnips
6 large carrots
6 large potatoes
1 large broccoli head
1 large brown onion
1 large red onion
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
Pineapple slices £0.80
‘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.’
Sarah’s daughters learnt a huge amount from the challenge and it taught them everything from how to budget to how to cook creatively.
‘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,’ Sarah explained.
‘It also taught them just how much work actually goes in to a meal in general but also for a large family.
Sarah’s daughters learnt a huge amount from the challenge and it taught them everything from how to budget to how to cook creatively. Pictured, cooking up a storm in the kitchen
The children (pictured in the kitchen) also learned how much work goes in to a meal in general but also for a large family
‘Generally we are coping pretty well under lockdown, taking each day as it comes and keeping ourselves busy.
‘Each of the children are taking it in turns to cook and bake – the younger ones aged five and seven are in charge of cakes and puddings – or doing things with me like washing, folding and washing up.’
‘Of course, we are missing our family and our friends and we will be so happy to see them all when this is over, but we video call or chat on the phone daily and keep in touch that way.’
Sarah has plenty of other tricks up her sleeve to save money and teach her kids valuable lessons during the lockdown.
‘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,’ she said. ‘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. They often have big breakfasts like cereal and a slice of toast or fruit as I’d rather they ate more for breakfast keeping them fuller for longer.
‘It has been difficult to source some of our usuals or complete a shop for our family due to restrictions in supermarkets but we’ve found ways around it.
‘Having a lot of food made from scratch has really helped our budgeting as well as meal planning. 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.
Sarah’s daughter said the challenge taught them that if you are creative enough you can pretty much make a meal from anything. Pictured, making dinner in the kitchen
‘To save waste on things like vegetables we will often leave the skins on and if we have cauliflower we use the leaves too.
Sarah says her top tip is to meal plan and only buy what is necessary – and so the family are growing a lot of vegetables this year.
Tom Church, co-founder of the site, commented:
‘Parents are having a hard time of it during the lockdown, often juggling work, parenting and homeschooling, not to mention all the usual cooking and cleaning.
‘The Six Days, Six Dinners challenge is a great idea for both kids and parents: it teaches children valuable lessons about planning and preparing meals, and means the whole family can chip in with helping when it comes to mealtimes.
Rather than looking back with worry at this time, many children will remember learning valuable life lessons and spending time with their parents – so challenges like this can be a great focus point that will be remembered for the good in the future!’
‘I’m planning on teaching the children how to make bread also so should the situation ever arise for them when they are older they can use the life skills they have been taught to be self-sufficient in a sad situation,’ she said.
‘Another few tips for saving money would be to just be creative and not be afraid to try new things. For example, often if we have a casserole, if there’s leftovers, I’ll use it as a filling in a pie the next day.
‘I tend not to throw things away. If it smells okay and isn’t soft or squidgy, we still use it.
‘If we use too many of something, for example carrots, I’ll chop it down, wait for it to cool, freeze it and make a chunky soup out of it.
‘There are lots of things you can do to save money and reduce waste. This challenge taught the girls that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore.
‘It can be fun, it can be rewarding and gives a massive sense of achievement when the plates are cleared and people ask for more because they enjoy what has been made. They are also aware now that nice meals don’t have to be expensive.
‘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.
‘We are pretty close anyway, but it helped the older two to work together and work better with their younger siblings with puddings and realise that sometimes having help is better than trying to do things alone.
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