Fun-Filled Frugal Christmas

 Amy Kelly claims you can feed your entire family this Christmas for just £18.50. She created Hard Up and Happy, a blog proving that families on a budget don't have to scrimp and save

A thrifty mother-of-three is hoping to help hungry families this Christmas, claiming you can feed an entire family of six for just £18 – with all the trimmings.

Blogger Amy Kelly, 36, from Whitby, North Yorkshire, aims to prove that families on a tight budget don’t have to scrimp and save when it comes to eating well.

The mother-of-three works part-time in social media marketing while her husband Paul is a welder, with the family subsisting on a modest income of £2,300 a month.

Amy Kelly claims you can feed your entire family this Christmas for just £18.50. She created Hard Up and Happy, a blog proving that families on a budget don’t have to scrimp and save

Some of her thrifty solutions include ‘Christmas cheer on the cheap’ – an advent calendar packed with free family activities like making snowflakes instead of chocolates – and claims to have devised a meal plan for just £18 that will feed six, by using a supermarket price comparison website.

But Amy doesn’t just cut costs at Christmas time; she does it all year round, by shopping around in Lidl and Aldi, or clearance sections in her local supermarkets.

AMY’S £18 CHRISTMAS SHOP

Village Bakery Soft White Toastie Bread: 42p (down from 45p)

Poundland Jane Asher Luxury Christmas Pudding: £1

Aldi Wood Farm British Carrots: 43p

Aldi Wood Farm British Parsnips: 65p

Aldi Wood Farm British Savoy Cabbage: 55p (down from 59p)

Aldi Wood Farm British White Potatoes: £1.19

Aldi Wood Farm Swede: 49p (down from 75p)

Cowbelle British Single Cream: 65p

Aldi Ashfield Farm Whole Medium Chicken without Giblets: £3.09

Let’s Party Pigs in Blankets: £1.99

Deli Continental Duck and Orange Pate: 85p (down from 89p)

Quixo Sage and Onion Stuffing Mix: 34p

Belletti Prosecco Spumante DOC Extra Dry: £4.99 (down from £5.39)

She has also planned a Christmas toy swap in her hometown of Whitby, for children to exchange their unwanted toys for new ones.

Her other tips for Christmas on a budget include having a family ‘Secret Santa’ present exchange and driving around to look at neighbours’ lights rather than attending expensive events.

She also suggests instead of buying an advent calendar for each child, get the little ones to pick 23 of their favourite books and read one a night, ending with the Night Before Christmas.

Her money-saving recipes and tips are becoming hugely popular on social media, and she already has over 1,000 followers on Facebook.

Amy's 'Christmas bomb' is her cheap DIY alternative to a traditional Christmas pudding. The blogger already has over 1,000 followers on Facebook thanks to her money-saving blogs

Amy’s ‘Christmas bomb’ is her cheap DIY alternative to a traditional Christmas pudding. The blogger already has over 1,000 followers on Facebook thanks to her money-saving blogs

AMY’S TOP TIPS FOR A FUN-FILLED BUDGET CHRISTMAS

1. Advent stories

Most of us with kids have loads of books lying around and what better way to spend time with them than reading.

Every night from the 1st December you could read a different story or poem finishing with The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.

2. Christmas light spotting

Get everyone to put their Christmas jumpers on and have a drive around the neighbourhood looking at light displays.

Get the Christmas tunes on and you could even pack the mince pies and have a supper picnic. If you’re struggling with transport then enjoy a late night walk.

3. Christmas tree sleepover

On the day you put your tree up make it extra special by having a family sleepover in the living room.

Bring down the duvets and pillows and camp out watching Christmas movies,

Alternatively, make it a bit more special for the children, try a technology free night talking about past Christmases from when you were little.

4. Save with Secret Santas

All children love to buy a gift for their family members, but we can’t all spare the money to buy everyone a separate gift, so the Secret Santa is a great idea.

Set a budget amount per person (even a pound will do thanks to the pound shop) and put everyone’s name into a tub and pull a name out each.

5. Create a Christmas Eve box

A simple and cheap way to keep the kids on their toes on Christmas Eve is with this special box.

Wrap up some pyjamas for everyone alongside a Christmas DVD (or make a ticket to an exclusive TV viewing).

Hide the box somewhere for them to find and tell them Santa must have popped by early with a treat.

Enjoy the movie as a family in your pyjamas with some snacks and a hot chocolate.

Find Amy’s latest recipes and lifestyle advice at hardupandhappy.co.uk

Amy, who is on a mission to end hunger and poverty from her kitchen, said: ‘I literally spend what I can afford at Christmas.

‘One year all I could afford was a set of plastic drawers filled with art materials and the kids were as happy with those as they were when I spent rather a lot more.

‘So teaching children to be grateful is another tip. We don’t eat turkey, we buy chicken as it’s a lot cheaper.’

When budgets are tight during the festive season, Amy cooks a Christmas dinner for six for just £18.50 – without scrimping on any of the trimmings or cranberry sauce.

She said: ‘I hate to think of people missing out on the excitement and magic as they worry about how they will afford the presents.

Amy's son Chase, two, and her husband Paul. Amy says of her money-saving tactics: 'I literally spend what I can afford at Christmas'

Amy’s son Chase, two, and her husband Paul. Amy says of her money-saving tactics: ‘I literally spend what I can afford at Christmas’

Some of Amy's thrifty solutions include 'Christmas cheer on the cheap' (pictured) - an advent calendar packed with family activities like making snowflakes instead of chocolates

Some of Amy’s thrifty solutions include ‘Christmas cheer on the cheap’ (pictured) – an advent calendar packed with family activities like making snowflakes instead of chocolates

‘This is not what it is about. I know it’s corny but it’s true. It’s about the family time together and the magic feeling, not about being worried and stressed.

‘If you’re on an even tighter budget try a family swap where you all get items you no longer want and swap them for ones you do instead of buying gifts.

‘I guarantee traditions like having advent stories or a Christmas family sleepover will make the memories the children remember forever.

‘Let’s face, it how many children remember their gifts year to year?’

Amy cooks all of her Hard Up and Happy meals from scratch for Paul, 36, and children Olivia, 15, Neve, 10, and Chase, 2, as well as Paul’s children Lula, 11 and Archie, 7 on weekends.

Amy's £39 weekly shop. The mother-of-three says: 'We cook from fresh, no ready meals, no box meals - it's about being healthy too. We do our shopping once a week'

Amy’s £39 weekly shop. The mother-of-three says: ‘We cook from fresh, no ready meals, no box meals – it’s about being healthy too. We do our shopping once a week’

The family's most recent shop came to £39. Amy said: 'At the moment, I'm doing a challenge to see how low I can get everything, at the moment the lowest I've managed to get is £36'

The family’s most recent shop came to £39. Amy said: ‘At the moment, I’m doing a challenge to see how low I can get everything, at the moment the lowest I’ve managed to get is £36’

Some of her thrifty winter recipes cost as little as 50p a portion, including her tasty sausage and pepper casserole, with herb dumplings and vegetable mash.

Amy started blogging about her cut-price lifestyle last October, and now gives talks at community events on how to live life to the full on a budget.

She said: ‘I heard stories about children wanting to go back to school because they wanted to be fed properly, because their parents can’t afford to feed them. I just couldn’t understand how this was happening.

‘I’ve been through every financial circumstance possible – I’ve been a single mum on benefits, I’ve been a single working mum and now both myself and my husband are working. I’ve never not managed to feed my children a decent meal.

One of Amy's recipes on her blog. At the start of every week, Amy and her family will make meal plans together in a bid to get the kids on board with budget eating

One of Amy’s recipes on her blog. At the start of every week, Amy and her family will make meal plans together in a bid to get the kids on board with budget eating

A meal made from poached egg and potato. Amy started blogging about her cut-price lifestyle last October, and now gives talks at community events on how to live on a budget

A meal made from poached egg and potato. Amy started blogging about her cut-price lifestyle last October, and now gives talks at community events on how to live on a budget

‘There’s a lot of things out there trying to help people save at the moment, but we’re not just about that, we’re about being happy while we do it.

‘I wasn’t working and I wanted something to fill my time – so I decided to do my blog.

‘It all started last October and it took off straight away. I’ve been asked to to do talks about thrift and it’s just mad how it has taken off.’

At the start of every week, Amy and her family will make meal plans together in a bid to get the kids on board with budget eating.

She added: ‘We sit down together on a Sunday and think up some meals that we can cook in the week. We put nice spins on the meals such as different themes.

‘We have Mexican nights, Italian nights, you can take it as far as you want and make plans with your kids.

The blogger's 'zombie brains' meal made for the kids at Halloween is made from mince and leftover corn, as well as paprika and chilli powder

The blogger’s ‘zombie brains’ meal made for the kids at Halloween is made from mince and leftover corn, as well as paprika and chilli powder

Amy's sausage and pepper casserole, with herby dumplings and carrot and swede mash, comes to just 50p

Amy’s sausage and pepper casserole, with herby dumplings and carrot and swede mash, comes to just 50p

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