This Headline About 'Feeding A Family Of 10 For $120 A Week' Is Total Bollocks

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So I'm at the supermarket, and I glance at the cover of trashy real-life stories magazine That's Life, because I'm always hoping that it will one day feature a headline as spectacular as the classic 'IS YOUR FRUIT SALAD PSYCHIC?'

There's nothing quite that glorious, but there is this: 'Budget Queen: I Feed A Family Of 10 For $120 A Week'. So obviously I had to buy it.

I have form when it comes to this kind of thing. Long-time Lifehacker readers might recall the Mastercheap experiment (and its sequel Mastercheap Raw), where I set myself a strict budget of $25 to feed myself for an entire a week, with no resorting to existing pantry staples and no eating out or skiving from friends and family. The short version? It was totally possible to do that in a relatively healthy way, and I even had spares left over.

Despite that, and despite knowing that buying in bulk would be even more effective than buying for one, I was a little sceptical. $25 a week for one person amounts to an average $1.19 per meal (also, this was back in 2010). $120 a week for 10 people takes that figure down to a scary $0.57 per person. You'd imagine that a lot of instant noodles and rice would be involved.

Either way, I was keen to see that budget, so I splashed out $3.50 on the mag. Sure, I could have just browsed it in the supermarket, but I used to work in magazines, so I like to support the industry when I can.

Anyway, the story turns out to be a profile of "mummy blogger" Kristy Clarke. I was disappointed that the double-page spread did not display a shopping list. But I was much more disappointed when I read the article.

There are indeed 10 people in the Clarke household: Kirsty, her husband Jeremy, Kirsty's four kids from a prior marriage, Jeremy's similar set of three, and one sprog they've produced together. But here's the killer detail, quoting direct from the story:

Shared care means we don't have all of the kids all of the time.

Right. So the weekly budget of $120 doesn't have to feed 10 people, seven days a week. In a good week, it might only have to feed six of them. That means $20 per person, which (from my perspective) is worthy but not revolutionary.

To be clear, I'm blaming this on That's Life, not Kirsty. And I'm slightly slapping myself, because I should know better than to believe the headline.

Those points aside, Kirsty shares the usual tips that apply if you're trying to live on a budget: plan all your meals, take advantage of specials, buy in bulk, buy in season. The most useful idea? "I give myself 20 minutes to get around the supermarket. There's no time to go off the list then!"

That's good advice, and I can make sure I follow it by not pausing to look at real-life magazines. The sequel to the psychic fruit salad will just have to wait.


Angus Kidman is editor-in-chief and frequent flyer guru for comparison site finder.com.au , a former editor for Lifehacker Australia and a confirmed cheapskate. Follow him on Twitter @gusworldau.


Comments

    You work for LifeHacker and you fell for "click bait" (or it's real life equivalent)? Ironic, no? :)

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