A kind-hearted teenager that offered to take over her family's food and shopping duties after her mum fell ill has saved her foster parents a huge £6,200 in expenses a year.
Nineteen-year-old Lauren Mudie was just 15 when her mum, Theresa, fell sick with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
After the diagnosis, the brave teen decided to step up and take over the cooking for her household - including preparing meals for her two siblings.
This later extended to tacking the shopping list - which she discovered her parents were splashing an eye-watering £200 a week on - money they didn't have as dad, Neil, was supporting mum through her treatment.
'Mum was spending £200 a week - it made no sense'
When Lauren discovered just how much cash her household was spending on food, she decided it was time to overhaul their spending habits to save the house some serious cash.
The teenager discovered online meat retailer MuscleFood, which she says slashed her family's weekly shopping bill from £200 to just £80, spending around £1.26 per head by buying in bulk.
Instead of sky high supermarket bills - she now spends just £60 a week on meat which is then supplemented with fresh vegetables and store cupboard essentials.
But Lauren, who's also juggling an animal management course at university, says she hasn't had to compromise on taste and can still whip-up delicious meals including spaghetti bolognese, curries, casseroles and a weekly roast dinner.
Since she took over the shopping, the value conscious teenager has saved her family around £6,200 a year – or around £480 every month - money that can be spent elsewhere on days out and quality time with mum who is now in remission.
And she says her secret - bulk buying - is not just handy for those who love their meaty dinners.
"I also bulk buy our store cupboard essentials," explains Lauren.
"This includes buying extra-large tins of tomatoes and 20kg bags of rice from supermarkets, which works out cheaper than buying them in smaller quantities. I do the same with pulses, such as lentils".
Lauren cooks five meals a week which are portioned up to feed between four to nine people a day.
Among her list of ingredients include, chicken breasts, rump steaks, brisket, mince and burgers.
"My mum has always shown me ways I can stretch my food further, but it wasn't until I started helping out in the kitchen I realised how much you can actually do it," she said.
"I can plan a month's worth of meals, which are easily adaptable to feed more mouths (in case we have another foster child to look after) before the hamper even arrives.
"If I use the best meat possible, I only need to use three chicken breasts to feed five or six people without even feeling like we are scrimping.
"As a family, we are keen meat eaters so before I would be spending £15 a week on average on chicken breasts, £4 on mince, £5 on steak and £8-12 on a joint of meat for a roast on a Sunday.
"But by bulk-buying I am able to order a hamper for £60 a month that can be incorporated into my monthly food plans. This gives me a monthly saving of around £100.
One final tip for every household
"My advice to anyone that is looking to cut back is to create a meal plan before they hit the supermarkets," explains Lauren.
"If you go without having an exact idea of what you need to buy you'll end up spending more money than you need to.
"Shopping online is also great as it allows you to see exactly how much you've spent and what you've got in your basket. You can sometimes get delivery slots for as little as £1 so it's always worth doing if you can.
"I also find that investing in some good knives can always help your meat stretch further. If you can cut every bit of meat off a joint on Sunday you'll have much more meat than if you used cheaper knives.
"Then if I have any leftover meat I can reuse it in a pie later in the week, or it can be incorporated into my family's packed lunches.
"If you're looking to save money on your weekly food bill then it can easily be done. You just need to be consistent with your food planning and understand that it is possible to stretch your food further than you think."
For more money saving tips from Lauren, visit her Facebook page.