THE cost of a day out with the kids can quickly add up when you buy food and refreshments on the go.
Packing a picnic is an easy way to keep a lid on your spending – and who said a homemade lunch had to be boring?
The Sun spoke to two savvy mums who show that, with a little creativity, you can lay on a special spread without breaking the bank.
SAMPLE £5 PICNIC MENU
Homemade egg, feta and kale muffins – £2.57
Carrot sticks – 40p
Squeezy yoghurt tubes – 95p
Banana and apple skewers – 86p
(All prices sourced from Aldi unless otherwise stated, correct as of August 2021).
For something a bit different, Lynn James, AKA Mrs MummyPenny, recommends homemade egg muffins with feta and kale.
Getting the kids involved in the making process is also a great way to keep them entertained (and guarantee that they’ll eat the finished product!).
For two large muffins per person, all you need is 160g curly kale (63p for 200g), eight eggs (£1.09 for a pack of ten), 60g feta cheese (85p for 200g) and a dash of some cupboard staples (salt, pepper, olive oil) – costing £2.57 all in.
To make them, remove the stalks from the kale. Chop the kale and the feta into small pieces.
Beat the eggs together with a generous pinch of black pepper and salt to taste. Add the kale and feta to the egg mixture.
Lightly coat the muffin tray with oil and divide the mixture between eight and bake for 15-20 mins, until cooked through.
They’ll keep for up to three days in the fridge or you can bulk bake and freeze them to eat later.
For a budget-friendly (and healthy) side, chop some carrots into sticks (40p for 1kg) – this is cheaper than buying them as batons.
Lynn also recommends adding squeezy yoghurt tubes (95p for nine).
She told The Sun: “A lot of people don’t realise that you can freeze dairy products.
“If you freeze the squeezy yoghurts and pop them into the packed lunch, they defrost and keep everything cool.”
For dessert, Mum-of-two and blogger Lara Joanna Jarvis likes to serve up fruit skewers for a cheap and cheerful pud the kids will love.
She told The Sun: “Cutting up fruit such as apple, strawberries and banana slices will make them go a lot further, so you need to buy less.”
With two bananas (13p each) and a bag of apples or pears (both 60p for 550g) you’ll have enough for at least four skewers with fruit to spare.
To save further on fruit and veg, Lynn recommends making the most of supermarket discounts.
She says: “At my local Aldi, they can have loads of 50% off fruit and veg all the time.
“You can freeze fruit and veg, so buy it when you see it and put it in the freezer to use when you need it.”
For drinks, both mums advise bringing refillable bottles of water from home – or juice or coffee if you prefer.
Lara says: “Buying a round of coffees could easily add up to £10 before you’ve even started!”
TASTY ALTERNATIVES TO KEEP THINGS FRESH
To keep costs down, you’ll want to avoid pre-packed food as much as possible.
But if you’re also strapped for time, Lara recommends forgetting picnic staple sandwiches altogether.
She says: “Grabbing a couple of baguettes can easily feed a group on a budget – just tear apart and slather with some butter or a slice of cheese and enjoy eating in a more rustic way.”
You can get fresh baguettes from supermarket bakeries for between 40-80p, a block of cheddar costs £1.79 (400g) or butter is £1.48 (250g) – costing between £1.88 and £2.59 total.
For a side, Kale crisps (63p for 200g) are one of Lynn’s go-tos because they’re low cost, easy to make, tasty and healthy.
Simply add salt and roast for 25 minutes in the oven at 150 degrees.
Knocking up a pasta salad is another wallet-friendly picnic option.
Lara says: “Pasta salad is a filling meal which can be done quickly and easily before you head out the door.
“Adding in a tin of tuna or some cheese and some seasoning will keep it tasty.”
An example shopping basket might look like this: Wholewheat fusilli pasta (39p, 500g), two tins of tuna (99p each), cucumber (43p), canned sweetcorn (37p) and mayonnaise (59p) – costing £3.76 all in.
With such a hearty main meal, you wouldn’t need many extras either.
GENERAL MONEY-SAVING PICNIC TIPS
Work out the best times for your local supermarket
Knowing the best times to shop at your nearest store is the key to bagging those in-demand ‘yellow sticker’ reduced items.
Lynn says: “I know that if I go to my local Co-op at 7pm, you’ll get stuff at 20% off.”
Experiment with vegetarian options
Incorporating meat into meals can really drive up the price.
Lynn recommends experimenting with veggie and vegan options to keep costs down.
Avoid processed and ready-made products
Lynn warns that many family favourite snacks like fruit shoots, crisps and chocolates could make your homemade picnic add up.
“Even in Aldi, six Kit Kats cost £1,” she says.
Filling reusable bottles with cordial or juice and making your own kale crisps (as above) are easy alternatives that will see you save on your food bill.
For more money-saving tips and advice, you can follow ‘Mrs MummyPenny’ Lynn James and Lara Joanna Davis on Instagram.
Plus how YOU can save £5k during the school summer holidays and still stop the kids being bored.
And the best budget & free days out for parents if you're stressed about keeping your kids entertained during the summer hols.
Meanwhile how the Radford family keep their kids entertained whilst on a budget during the summer holidays.
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