Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Motherly Advice...Include fun food in the budget and save big $$$...

One big fast food corporation currently has a Meal Deal.
You may have seen the (very stupid) ads.
For $5.95, you get a cheeseburger, a small soft drink, a small fries, and an ice cream sundae.
Wow, sounds great doesn't it, and $6 is nothing.

Well, $6 each, so we're kidding ourselves right there.
So let's say you have to buy at least 3 because you have 3 children, or one for you, your partner and your child. That's not $5.95, it's $17.85, hardly anyone buys one meal deal.
For a little more than $17.85 at Aldi (or replace generic brands at any supermarket) you'll get:
500gms extra lean mince $5.99
Hamburger rolls $2.99
Cheese slices $5.99
1.25 litre lemonade .99c
2 litre premium ice cream $4.99
Chocolate wafers $1.49
Frozen French fries $3.99
That's a total of $26.43.
Now most of us on a budget would hesitate to add this to a tiny grocery bill.
But consider this:
We WILL all wilt and do this from time to time..no crime there.
But add in the petrol that you'd use just driving to the fast food outlet, and sitting in the drive-thru queue with your engine running, waiting to be served, let's say $5.
Add in the fact that someone will want to upsize their meal or get M & Ms in their sundae or something, add another $3.
Add a therapeutic cappuccino for Mum, another $4.
All of a sudden, our cheap treat ($5.95, remember), has blown out to $38.43 and don't you think the fast food companies know that!
And that's for just fuel to get to the fast food outlet, 3 meals for the kidlets, and a cappuccino for Mum.
From your $26.43 at Aldi, or add $5 for 10 sachets of cappuccino or latte mix, and the spend is $31.43.
But for that $31.43, (which provides me with at least two, if not three dinners, a couple of lunches for me at home, and several treats), I'd be able to make:
15 home made burger patties.
6 hamburger buns. I'd actually halve them crosswise and get 12 thinner buns, or I'd use bread at the same price.
Enough cheese for cheese toasties later in the week as well, another saving on a quick lunch or afternoon tea.
Enough ice cream for 10 sundaes with a wafer in the top with wafers left over for afternoon treats.
Enough frozen fries for a quick side dish on another night when we're a bit rushed.
Enough lemonade for a couple of drinks for everyone, not just one.
Enough cappuccino mixes for 10 treats for me!
Now it doesn't sound like such a chunk out of the budget, does it?
That $31.43, actually has the potential to save me buying:
15 cheeseburgers @ $2 = $30
5 Toasted Ham and Cheese Pockets on the go @ $2 = $12
10 ice cream sundaes @ $2.90 = $29.00
8 small fast food soft drinks @ $2.35=$18.80
Side dish of fries for dinner @ $4 at the fish and chip shop
10 cappucinos @ $4 = $40
Total: $160.23
So a saving of $128.80 for my $31.43 spend!!!
My point is that we all cringe at spending a little on convenience foods, but many of us (me included) don't hesitate to buy a happy meal and coffee on the run occasionally.

By simply planning ahead, and making a small allowance in the budget for FUN FOOD, you can actually save a bomb!
And before you all shout me down, yes of course, you could reduce this again by making your own fries or wedges, your own rolls, your own cappuccino mix and so on.
But hard as I try, there are just some moments/days/weeks, where this is beyond me. And I refuse to contribute to the fast food coffers, just because I'm having a busy time!
I reckon I'd rather budget for some fun food, enjoy ourselves in our lovely home rather than a neon lit bathroom masquerading as a restaurant, and feed my family properly.

What's your favourite budget friendly fast food copycat. How much money does it save you?
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  1. Good points.

    There is only the 2 of us but when I do the menu plan I always factor in some easy/fun/takeaway food each week. It is usually nachos or pizza and often on a Friday night.

    If the planning goes pear-shaped, I can always bring it forward to earlier in the week!!

    1. Fairy, it's interesting too, that the so called 'fun' food, for which we pay dearly both financially and in terms of health, is actually the easiest and most frugal thing to replicate. Restaurants and fast food outlets aren't stupid. They're not going to sell us something that costs a fortune for them to make! Food for thought! Mimi xxx

  2. Neon lit bathroom masquerading as a restaurant! so funny!
    I was listening to the radio the other day and people were phoning in to tell stories of things they've never done. There were a few who said they've never had McDonalds. I have but not a lot. Homemade hamburgers and chicken burgers are a favourite Sunday night dinner. So easy, yummy especially with beetroot rather than pickle and way cheaper than the Golden Arches. cheers Janiebabex

    1. Janie, that's commendable to imagine that there are still people out there who've never eaten McDonalds. I think McDonalds have a lot to answer for personally, but then you can't take away peoples freedom to choose. We love an easy Sunday night dinner too. Fried rice is super frugal and tasty as well, and IF I've remembered to precook the rice, that's our usual choice. Love a good homemade burger too though! Love, Mimi xxx

  3. Not to mention that whatever you make at home will taste better and be more filling. I don't know about everyone else, but when I used to eat at McDonald's (I'm vegetarian now, so there's not much on their menu for me anymore), I was always left still hungry when I was done. Their food is high in calories, but not especially filling.

    I agree with you. Planning treats at home is much more economical, with the added bonus of being healthier! I make a lot of pizza at home- we almost never go out for pizza. Why bother when we've got a better version just waiting to be assembled in our kitchen? :)

    1. Stephanie, that's the truth for sure. High in sugar, fat, salt and not nearly as nutritious as home made. I've never been a fan of pizza, because it always made me feel unwell. But now that I've mastered a great gluten free pizza base, and we use lactose free cheese, it's a whole new ball game! So we're on the same page there. Pizza uses up anything and everything! Love, Mimi xxx

  4. We bought a 5 pound package of ground beef and make 16 patties from it. We grill them til they are not quite done and then pop them into the freezer. When the burger craving hits, and it does, we take out two burgers and reheat in the microwave and we have a delicious burger on the cheap. Cheeseburgers with all all the toppings are around $5 each here so this really saves. We also get cravings for milkshakes so a carton of vanilla ice cream in the freezer is waiting to make those too. Not going for a milkshake run saves $6-7. I always have the bag of frozen FF in the freezer, too. The silliest thing to eat away from home is pasta. A dinner with a pasta dish, salad and bread is $13 and up. I can make pasta dinners for the two of us for 2 to three meals for that.

    My husband absolutely loves the sausage gravy at a local Amish restaurant. Try as I might I cannot duplicate it. Eating breakfast at that restaurant costs us a whopping $22. About a year ago I asked if they sell the gravy and found that I can buy a gallon of it for $16. I bring it home and freeze it in 12 containers and add that to breakfast made at home. That has saved us a lot of money even though I am paying someone else to cook.

    1. Well done! Sometimes we find a flavour in a purchased food, try as we might, we cannot duplicate and always hanker for. You found a good solution and the store still makes some money.

    2. Lana yes! And what a brilliant idea on par-cooking the burger patties. I'm stealing that one for sure! And the milkshakes and smoothies...don't get me started. I can make a berry smoothie with my home made smoothie cubes for under $1. And pasta? I couldn't agree more. As I said to Yvonne at the top, restaurants aren't serving the top quality stuff for the price they charge. They're always looking for ways to serve sub-standard food for top dollar. Well, that's perhaps an exaggeration, but truly, unless you're paying $40 for your main course these days, you're almost certainly eating something that you could easily rustle up at home for a song. I love that you had the ingenuity to ask about the sausage gravy too. How many of us would hesitate to do that and yet look where it got you! Well done! Love, Mimi xxx

  5. This is so true...by the time sometimes we go and get it I could have it made.

    1. Ah Vickie...you are singing my song. I've been saying that for years. Fast food is often not that 'fast'....lol! Mimi xxx

  6. Hi Mimi, oh how much better do our bottom of the fridge bibs and bobs taste when made up into fun food Fried Rice, Pizza or Pasta Bake yumbo 😆
    Friday night specials also served nice and hot not half cold by the time you get back from the take away having spent lots of dollars and time for something mediocre.
    Love your way of thinking and comments from your friends I prefer to thi k of us as friends rather than just followers Cheers Bevo xx

  7. You can make own KFC I would rather do that because I only like breast meat. These companies make their buns full of sugar with no fibre. Everyone should watch the cheeseburger challenge where a uni student put one on the windowsill for a year and it had no mould on It. The fresher and better the bread the faster is goes mouldy. They also use high fructose corn syrup in drinks and the fries in lard. However I will admit I do indulge maybe once a year on a quarter pounder.
    We were never allowed McDonalds as kids or k.f.c. I never had it until I was a teen and then I found it awful. We were never allowed soft drinks growing up in the 80s it was milk or water. Cordial only at parties. Now I see parents giving kids these drive through box meals and it makes my blood boil. We aren't born to like sugar or salt. They're acquired tastes through exposure.

  8. The Coles brand special burger sauce has been a game changer in our house. We can have the taste of a big Mac without the cost, and actually be full after our meal! Best $2.75 ever spent :)

  9. Your ideas are wonderful, great money savers! Only part I can't figure though is how to make 15 burgers out of 500 grams of meat. Could that have been a miss print? - Diane from Minnesota

  10. I have learned this lesson only recently and it's a game changer for me! I do enjoy cooking from scratch at home most of the time, but on days when it just wasn't going to happen, we'd get fast food. Not terribly often, but I always felt like it wasn't worth the time, driving effort (ugh, I drive around enough already!) and cost for mediocre food that, when you look at it, isn't much...a kid's meal at the local chicken place includes nuggets made from maybe 1/8 pound of chicken and fries that come from maybe 1/2 a potato. That's it! Now I have a few quick meals up my sleeve. Tonight we ate smoked sausage, baked beans from a can, and a sliced cucumber with salad dressing. Took me 15 minutes, faster than getting fast food.
    The other thing I have learned is that sometimes it actually saves money to NOT buy the most frugal option. For example, I was on a kick of loving Starbucks hot chocolate. My cheap off-brand hot chocolate mix at home just wasn't able to compete. Finally I bought the more expensive Starbucks hot chocolate mix. Although it was significantly more expensive than the cheapest option at the store, it was also significantly cheaper than driving through Starbucks!

  11. Mimi, reading this kind of post does me good. Sometimes when you read money-saving tips you can start to feel like a failure for buying a bag of frozen fries, or something similar. You are so right, of course it would be cheaper to peel and prepare potatoes ourselves, but some days thst just isn't going to happen. It took me a while to feel okay about cutting a few corners now and then.
    I'm sure would like this - my ten year old (who has Coeliac's disease) asked if they make gluten-free cookies and cream ice cream. I said no, and he asked if he could make some himself! So he crushed some gf oreo-type biscuits and mixed them into vanilla ice cream. It was delicious! I was so happy that he wanted to make his own, he is very good about sometimes having to miss out on certain foods, so having him realise that he can make some of the things that can't be bought was great. We are now having a competition to see who can make the best new flavour! Every Sunday night someone creates a new flavour from vanilla ice cream and up to $5 of other ingredients. Should be yummy lol.

    Have a good weekend Mimi
    Jen in NZ


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx