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Feed your family for just $21 a week!

Interested in finding out more about the $21 Challenge? We've got a few pointers to get you started.

WHO'S BEHIND THE CHALLENGE?

Perhaps not surprisingly, two mums are behind The $21 Challenge. Fiona Lippey is the frugal mind behind Simple Savings, full of resources to help families become savvy shoppers. Her $21 Challenge co-author Jackie Gower writes under the name Penny Wise for that's life!, blogging her way to savings success. You can buy The $21 Challenge at leading retailers, RRP $24.99.

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

The $21 Challenge is like a seven-day financial boot camp for the modern family. It makes a quick and positive impact on the household budget, at the same time leaving mums and dads with lots of tips, lessons and recipes to continue saving money in the long term. The average Australian family of four spends $320 a week on groceries - that's almost $17,000 a year!

The aim of the challenge is to spend just $21 on groceries for an entire week by using what you already have in your pantry and fridge and only purchasing a few extra essentials. You don't have to do this every week - just for one week. It will show just how much you can save when you put your mind to it!

BUT WHAT ABOUT CLEANING PRODUCTS AND TOILETRIES?

The $21 Challenge is purely focused on feeding a family. It doesn't include petrol, cleaning products, nappies or toiletries, although you'll soon discover that your new saving ethos will spill over into these areas too.

family

I'VE GOT BIG EATERS AND FUSSY EATERS. WILL THEY STARVE?

Definitely not. If anything, the $21 Challenge should expand rather than restrict your diet. You'll be introduced to new and creative ways to use up the food in your kitchen - and you'll be amazed at just how much of it there is!

There's no need to reduce portion sizes when you simply replace some meat with more vegies. As for fussy eaters, there are even some great toasted sandwich recipes that should hit the spot.

HOW TO GET STARTED

  1. Set your target The $21 Challenge was originally created to feed a family of four, but larger families have successfully adapted the plan to feed more. Feel free to add an extra $5.25 per person to your overall budget goal. But many families have finished the week having spent much less than $21!
  2. Pick your time There's no point taking the challenge when you're hosting visitors, on holidays, moving house or nursing sick family members.
  3. Do a stocktake Immerse yourself in the pantry, dig deep into the freezer and explore every inch of the fridge. Get rid of anything past its use-by date. Jot down everything else - no really, everything! Use the categories 'Regulars' (items you buy and use all the time) and 'Bonuses' (things you bought ages ago and don't really know what to do with). When you stocktake the fridge, note any items that need to be consumed within the next week.
  4. Menu plan This is really the key to conquering the $21 Challenge. Unlike traditional menu plans, this one works backwards, starting with what you have and then working out what wonderful things you can do with it.
  5. Find some super-saver recipes Use your own family-friendly recipe books, consult Simple Savings webiste OR see the that's life!'s selection of budget recipes. Many recipe websites also allow you to type in an ingredient and then provide a selection of recipes using that item.
  6. Make your shopping list It's easiest to do this while you're filling in your planner, jotting down any recipe ingredients you don't already have. Estimate the total cost and make adjustments where you can.
  7. Go shopping!Won't it be great to only do this once a week? Stick to your list and don't be tempted by any of the sneaky tricks supermarkets employ to try to take your hard-earned cash.

Visit simplesavings.com.au for more information and share your stories of the $21 Challenge by leaving a comment below.

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