As every parent knows, children all come along with extra costs. Having three boys close in age, we did pass down a lot of the baby equipment and clothes from one child to the next. They still have lots of the same interests so bigger toy purchases can often be used and shared by all of the children, like our outdoors play equipment but there are still lots of areas where more children generally always means more cost:
- Days out – Whether big trips to major attractions or even just a local trip for bowling or the cinema, having more children always adds up! We try to get round this by looking for offers and saving up clubcard vouchers to help pay for our days out.
- Holidays – If going abroad, each extra plane ticket will definitely help the cost to mount up! We have not taken the children abroad yet for this reason, although we do have plans to travel later in the year and we will be going by ferry rather than plane which is great as the price is per car / family rather than per person.
- Nappies – We always used disposables which is not something that can be passed down or shared at all! We are still getting through plenty of nappies, and this has been a constant weekly purchase for the past 6+ years we have always had someone in nappies!
- Shoes – This is something we don’t pass down between the children, as they get so much wear out of them that it wouldn’t be practical and I prefer each child to have their own properly fitted shoes. As the children get older and each clothes lasts longer for them, we do pass down less. It’s more practical to save clothes with babies who grow fast and may only fit into each outfit a few times!
- Food – This is a cost that always seems to increase, as like many children my boys are very active and very hungry! I find that there are ways to keep costs down a bit by meal planning and being sensible in what types of food to cook. Individually packed items for lunch boxes are the types of thing that drive my food bill up per child. The national average spend per child on food is £30-40 per week according to the Natwest Raising a Child Calculator and I was challenged to keep an eye on my spending and make sure that I keep within this.
Try out the Cost of Raising a Child calculator here on the Natwest website to see whether you are similar to the national averages.
Thinking of my youngest child (age nearly 3) it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which costs are for his food as we don’t buy meals specifically for the children but tend to cook for everyone and then give a portion per person. However, my boys still drink a lot of milk especially my youngest who will go through about one pint per day. This comes to about £2 per week for him on milk which is not too bad.
He also goes through a lot of fruit, as he will snack on a few pieces per day – one apple and one banana, or one banana and a bowl of grapes for example. I think his fruit would come to about £4 per week. With his lunch, he often loves to have products like Babybel which are quite expensive (we would buy the large pack for £3.15) so all of this adds up. I estimate that we spend about £2 on treats per child each week too, for example we might buy a pack of cornettos for them to have one each, or Jaffa cakes to share. They also drink a lot of juice boxes, or fresh juice, which again always adds up.
For the main meals, I’m able to prepare these quite cost effectively. I often cook rice or pasta based dishes for the children which works out pretty cheaply. I can buy a bag of 5kg rice for £6 to £10 depending on the brand and 2kg of red lentils for £2 to make daal so each portion of rice and daal is only a few pence. Meat, chicken and vegetables are more expensive but with these types of meals, the meat and vegetables will spread quite far and I don’t feel like it costs a lot per person. For example chicken breast could be about £4 and my youngest would only have a couple of pieces with his meal.
I felt I was quite easily able to stay within the recommended average of £40 per child, mainly because I do cook a family meal for us all to share. If I bought toddler ready meals separately for the little ones to have for meals I could see that easily mounting up at around £2 per meal! When Mr R was younger I did buy a couple per week for convenience, and bought jar baby food from time to time when the boys were babies. I definitely noticed our supermarket bill increasing at those times and planning meals for the whole family to share is way more cost effective. At the moment I’m happy enough with our supermarket spending so I don’t mind spending a few pounds per week on treats for them or buying some of the more expensive brands.
It’s definitely interesting to think about how much each child’s food may cost. I had not really looked at that until challenged by Natwest to use their calculator as I tended to look only at the main supermarket bill as a whole. I do keep meaning to start properly meal planning by writing down all of our family meals at the start of the week and I’m sure this could reduce waste and bring down our bill even more.
How much do you spend per child? Do you find the costs changing as they get older? I’m sure once my boys reach their teenage years our supermarket bill will go through the roof as I have heard about teenage boys eating the cupboards bare so quickly! Let me know your experiences in the comments!