I feed my family of eight for £70 a week & spent just £250 on our family holiday – these are my tips

MAKING sure your family is fed and watered is no easy feat- so spare a thought for Kimberley Johnson who has a total of eight mouths to feed and on a budget too.

Kim, 33, lives with husband Matt, 42, with her four children, Steven, 16, Aimee, 14, Isabella, 10, Joshua, 8, Reuben, 4 and Joseph, 9, from Matt’s first marriage.

And with a tight budget, the mum has learned every trick in the book to keep their finances on track.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Digital, Kim explains: “Being a parent of a large family – there are eight of us – means that finances can be a tricky balancing act. 

“There is always someone needing a new pair of shoes or a new book for school, so it is important to make sure that unexpected expenses are planned for. 

“For two and a half years, I was a single parent, surviving on Income Support while paying a mortgage and looking after 4 children aged 8 and under. 

“All of this has led to us finding a variety of tips and tricks to help money stretch that little bit further; meaning that we can still enjoy family holidays, treats and days out while still making sure that the bills are paid and there is food in the cupboards. 

“Even now, when we are in a much better position financially, having a strict budget means that we can put money aside for a rainy day and afford the unexpected emergencies which come up.”

Here Kim shares her top tips for keeping in budget with a large family…

How I budget for a large family:


Organising a meal plan and a budget for food shopping is vital for any family who want to cut their expenses, but especially important in ours. 

With six children in the house, there is always someone who is asking for a snack, so I make sure that our meal plan includes extras. 

The meal plan then gets stuck to the kitchen cupboards so that everyone can easily see what there is and I don’t have to answer the same question a million times. 

As a general rule, I book a home delivery slot for a Monday morning, so I sit down the weekend before and work out what the meals will be for the following week. 

The meal plan will include breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks as well as any extras that we need to get such as toiletries and dog food. By organising an online delivery, it means that we only buy the food that we need, rather than being tempted by the aisle-end deals.

Typical meals include family favourites such as spaghetti bolognese, carbonara  or homemade pizzas. Lunches can include things like cheese and crackers rather than sandwiches, pots of cheese savouries rather than crisps or hummus and crudites. 

I focus on cooking from scratch as this tends to work out cheaper than buying ready made sauces or meal kits and usually buy own-brand products. 

For example, I can make two large family-sized cheese pizzas for less than the cost of one store bought one, a bolognese sauce for 8 people costs me less than £1 to make from scratch whereas we would need two jars of shop bought sauce, and one roll of puff pastry with a sprinkling of cheese can make approximately 40 cheese straws for less than £2. 


Christmas is expensive, there is no getting away from it. Whether you have one child or an entire football team, the list of ‘must-have’ items on their Christmas list is seemingly endless and it can often feel daunting trying to work out how to afford it all. 

I get around this by saving throughout the year through schemes such as Park. 

I set up a direct debit in December for the following year and I never really notice the money leaving my account. 

By October, my vouchers or gift cards arrive and I can then buy the big-ticket items which would otherwise be unaffordable. 

It is also possible to save by setting up a separate savings account linked to your bank account, but I have found that if I can see the money then I am tempted to spend it before Christmas, whereas this way I can’t touch it until the vouchers arrive.

I also shop throughout the year. I will go to the supermarkets in early January and pick up stocking fillers for pennies. 

Websites such as Toys for a Pound are also a brilliant way of stocking up on items for birthdays and Christmas, with many brand name products at very reasonable prices. 

Last year, I was able to fill all six childrens stockings for less than £10 per child, saving me a small fortune when compared to the UK average spend on stocking fillers (around £45 per person according to a survey by American Express). 

I also keep an eye out for deals and special offers so that I can put together hampers for family members. 

As I buy things, it all goes into a box under my bed, which gets pulled out in the Autumn so that I can work out what else needs to be bought. 

It is hard to work out exactly how much I save by doing things this way, but I can usually cover Christmas for all 8 of us, plus our families and all of the food, for less than £700 in total. Last year, I spent £420 on gifts for the children, including their stockings, which worked out to be approximately £70 each. 

Holidays and Days Out

For me, it has always been important that we should get away as a family at least once a year. 

Usually, we will holiday within the UK; often choosing somewhere in Cornwall, although we have also stayed in Yorkshire, Wales, Suffolk and the Isle of Wight. 

Holidays for eight people can be incredibly expensive, so I always shop around. 

Normally, we will choose a campsite which has very few amenities onsite as we prefer to explore the local area, but it’s always nice if there is access to a swimming pool or other facilities. 

We aren’t particularly fussy about where we go, but we always make sure that there are plenty of things to do locally. 

This year, we are staying in Cornwall for five days at £250 for eight people. 

We will be minutes from the beach, on a lovely caravan site we have used before. Because of their returning customer loyalty schemes, we have even been able to upgrade our accommodation for free. 

As well as our main family holiday, we will go camping for a few long weekends. These usually cost us less than £50 for our stay, with an electric hook-up and an extra-large pitch to give us a bit more space from other campers. 

We try to get out as a family most weekends and, when restrictions permit, make full use of our National Trust and English Heritage memberships. 

It works out to be about £20 per month for all of us to have both memberships, but one visit to Dover Castle each year saves us more than we would spend out in a year of payments, so it’s definitely worth doing. 

When we go on holiday, we always make sure that there are properties locally to explore as they act as a free day out. All we need to pack is a picnic. 

Websites such as Groupon and Wowcher can also be great for finding cheap days out. Two years ago, we went to the circus for about £15 by using the Wowcher website. 


Life is boring if there isn’t something to look forward to; whether that is a monthly takeaway, a trip to Primark for fun or a movie night with snacks, it is important to have special treats. 

When I first started budgeting, I didn’t allow for extras and I quickly found that it was impossible to stick to the plan properly as there was no incentive. 

Now, I make sure that there is something to anticipate each week which is budgeted accordingly. 

If we plan a takeaway, then we will look for special offers using apps such as Just East and take a little money from our food budget to allow for the extra expenditure. We can often get a takeaway for all of us for between £25 and £30. 

We do the same with movie nights, making the most of our Netflix and Prime subscriptions to choose a family film and ordering snacks on our weekly food shop. 

Date nights are also an important part of keeping us happy as a family and we try to go out roughly once a month. 

To keep our date night costs down, we will look for special offers at local restaurants, check out deals on Wowcher and similar apps or spend a night seeing a band at our local pub or music venue. 

Our weekly budget

This is an overview of our weekly costs as a large family and does not include bills such as gas, electricity or mortgage.

Food – no more than £75 for a family of 8  (I usually aim to spend between £65 and £70 to allow for extras)

Car – £20 for fuel

Extras – £20 ‘fun money’ (if we don’t spend this then it rolls over for the next week)

£10 for children’s hobbies (paid by direct debit to reduce costs)

£20 for holiday savings and spending money

£5 for National Trust and English Heritage memberships

This way, we rarely spend more than £20 on a night out and we get time to remember the things we enjoy about each other. 

We also make sure that we fill up the free drink tokens for places such as McDonald's, so if we don’t have time for a full evening out, we can grab a free drink and go for a walk together. 

Loyalty Schemes

I am a big fan of loyalty schemes.

The Tesco Clubcard scheme has been invaluable to us as a family. The points that build up to pay for us to have special days out for birthdays, extra treats while on holiday or meals in restaurants which would usually be unaffordable. 

In recent years, the Clubcard scheme has meant that we could take a trip on the London Eye, the Eden Project, Flambards and Chessington World of Adventures amongst many other things. 

The process works by exchanging the point value for tickets to hundreds of attractions around the UK. Usually, Tesco offers 3 times the voucher value, meaning that £1 of clubcard points is worth £3 towards entry at your chosen attraction. 

It has been so lucrative that I would estimate that we have only spent about £15 on days out in the last five years; Flambards for example cost us £1.35 in cash, the rest was clubcard vouchers and a last minute decision to visit the Smugglers Adventure in Hastings cost us nothing other than the fuel to get there and the cost of chips on the beach. 

We normally take a picnic on these trips, but that is allocated out of our usual weekly food budget or our ‘fun money’ budget, so there is no extra cost. We also use Sainsbury's Nectar points, which pays for extra treats at Christmas.

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