How mum's £30 shop put government's Free School Meal boxes to shame - providing 36 meals for daughter in lockdown

It’s been 15 minutes since I entered my local supermarket, and my trolley is filling up nicely.

I have £30 in my pocket, and I’m on a mission – to buy items for two-weeks of lunches to feed my child while we’re homeschooling during lockdown.

Parents across the nation have spoken out in anger and frustration this week after seeing photos of ‘inadequate’ food parcels being sent out by the government.

These Free School Meal boxes, said to be worth £30 each for 10 days, were offered in lieu of free school meals or vouchers, as schools were forced to close once again this month.

By the time I get the shopping unpacked back home, it’s overflowing off my counter.

After a morning spent looking at photographs of heart-achingly small portions, I was certain I could do better, so I’ve pulled on a facemask and popped to my local Asda to prove just that.

By the time I hit £10, my trolley already contains everything I need to feed my six-year-old daughter lunch for 10 days - bread, ham and turkey, butter, crisps, pretzels, yoghurt tubes, apples and bananas. And I’ve checked the dates, everything will last.

That’s when I decide to experiment with some hot meal options – adding bread and eggs (for scrambled eggs on toast), and jacket potatoes, with cheddar cheese, and a pot of cottage cheese. This brings me to £15.57.

Why not, I then decide, see if I can also provide breakfast too? A 24-pack of Weetabix and milk brings me to £19.45.

By the time I get the shopping unpacked back home, it’s overflowing off my counter.

I decide to splurge on some treats – adding chocolate Rice Krispie Squares, and chocolate chip cereal bars, one for every day.

With £8 left of my budget, I buy the ingredients for a big pot of homemade spaghetti bolognese, which contains 4-5 potions, and is great heated up next day as a lunch or dinner portion for the kids.

By the time I get the shopping unpacked back home, it’s overflowing off my counter.

That’s a whopping 36 meals my £30 stretched to, plus snacks and treats. It’s worth mentioning I didn’t head to a budget supermarket, and that I didn’t even always choose the cheapest options - there were a few brand names in this lot - but I still ended up with a fridge-full of food that will keep my daughter fed and happy for the next two weeks.

"How my £30 shop put the government's Free School Meal boxes to shame - providing 36 meals for my daughter in lockdown"