A SAVVY mum-of-11 claims that she's slashed her food bill IN HALF – by feeding her entire family for less than £4 per meal.
Michelle Bannon was stunned when she managed to cut her monthly £1,000 food bill for her family-of-13 by almost half to £600 by sticking to Asda's Just Essentials range.
The 36-year-old decided to become more inventive when she started 'feeling the pinch' due to soaring prices and now feeds her large family for under £4 per meal.
The maternity consultant posts her budget meals on social media to show other mums that there's no shame in ditching branded items and buying the brightly-packaged value products.
Michelle says mechanical engineer husband Craig Bannon, 38, and children Chloe, 18, Charley, 14, Emily, 13, Lacey, 11, Libby, nine, Ollie, eight, Lottie, seven, Connie, five, Joey, three, Jessie, two, Jorgie, one, [all Bannon] can't taste the difference.
Hearty meals include fishcakes, home-made chips and mixed veg cost just £3.91 while she managed to feed her family of 13 a sausage pasta dish that set her back just £3.36.
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Michelle, from Rotherham, South Yorks, said: "I used to spend £1000 a month on food before I was savvy. We go through a lot of food.
"We'd get brands and would spend quite a lot. I'd buy two big lasagnes for tea but now I can make my own.
"Before the prices went up, I got the food shop down to £130 per week.
"Now, with the prices going up, we're hitting around £150. Because we're a big family, people think we spend a fortune.
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"With the Asda Just Essentials, there's been bad press that it can be shameful.
"I want to show them it's not.
"It's great, I haven't found a problem with it. You don't need to spend money on brands. As long as you know how to cook, you can make anything from anything.
"I made the kids fishcakes, chips and veg and it was really cheap.
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"I used around three kilos of potatoes from a 7.5kkg bag, two bags of fishcakes and a kg bag of veg – and the kids loved it.
"Why would I fork out for the expensive brand when the kids enjoy it anyway?
"Pasta is always a good one. Everyone loves sausage pasta and you can make it as cheap as you like.
"We get 20 sausages that cost £1.20 and if you slice them up it goes further, 1.5 kgs of pasta some veg, tomato puree, a stock cube and you can add cheese depending on your budget."
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Michelle and Craig spend the extra cash on days out as a family or treating the children to the occasional McDonald's.
Michelle said: "We have a bit more money to do a bit extra and have fun, we're comfortable.
"We let kids be kids, let them out and don't keep them locked up so we have extra on days out or a cheeky McDonald's or a treat."
Michelle says she was forced to become more inventive throughout the pandemic because she wasn't able to get to the supermarket as often and there wasn't enough food available for her large family.
Although she likes to support local businesses, she has ditched her weekly trip to the butchers and cut her milk deliveries down from three to one a week.
Rather than spending two hours in the supermarket every week and filling up two trolleys, Michelle pays £6.50 per month for deliveries.
Michelle said: "I wouldn't say I've always budgeted. The problem was I couldn't always cook but Covid did me a lot of favours because I learned new cooking skills.
"With the food restrictions, I had to be more inventive because we could only get two bags of pasta. It was an absolute nightmare.
"I get a milkman delivery once a week for £10. I used to have him three times a week but I've cut it down because it's not feasible but I liked to do my bit and support that local business.
"We were trying to limit going out shopping but we couldn't get what we needed.
"I ordered eight tins of beans and they sent me one. What was I going to do with one tin of beans?
"It made me more savvy with money and really inventive.
"I used to get meat from the local butchers. I feel for them but there's a big difference in price compared to the supermarket.
"I like to support businesses but we're feeling the pinch. I can get burgers for £2 to feed us all rather than £10 from the butchers.
"The quality might not be quite as good but I've been giving everything from the Just Essentials range a try.
"If we don't like it, I don't get it again but I haven't found anything we don't like."
Super-savvy Michelle posts her budget meals on social media to show other families how they can cut their food bill without feeling ashamed for reaching for value items.
Michelle said: "I posted the fishcakes, chips and vegetables meal on social media and it got 3,000 likes.
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"People might feel shame, but if I can show them it's nothing to be ashamed of then I'm happy.
"The kids don't mind, they're quite happy with the bright packaging, they love it. "My delivery is just yellow, people can think what they think."
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