Navigating Summer: Family Meals and Fun for Next to Nothing

Affordable ways to make sure you and your kids are well-fed and having fun over the summer holidays, even if money is tight.
Family eating at Café

With the cost of living continuing to soar, it isn’t just the dodgy weather many of us are struggling with this summer. The truth is that keeping the kids fed over the school summer holidays has become a bit of a challenge for many.

And if you are feeling it – you are not alone. According to food bank charity the Trussell Trust, about one in five parents are feeling the pressure of making sure their kids have enough to eat during the holidays. Even if you are one of those just about managing, chances are you are still counting the days until September.

We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a few tricks up our sleeves that could make things a touch easier…

Park Picnic Power

Don’t underestimate the simple pleasures of getting everyone outside for some fresh air for a good old-fashioned picnic. After all, everything– especially food– is better outdoors. Picnic food doesn’t have to be fancy – think carrot sticks (healthy), home-popped corn last night’s leftovers, or check out this video for how to do a picnic for a family of 4 for a fiver. Bring a blanket, and you are good to go. Here in London, we are blessed with some of the best parks in the world, right on our doorstep, including hidden green spaces you might not even know about – find yours here and get some history and fun facts thrown in.

Fakeaway at Home

Deliveroo? Deliver-yoo! (sorry). Save cash and calories, as well as keeping everyone entertained with exciting twists on old food favourites cooked at home. I’m a fan of this air fryer jacket with chilli for four people ( costing £1.15 per person). Craving a cheeky Nandos? There is a recipe for that and other Fakeaway recipes here, too, so you can make the level of spice perfect for you. And if you are really counting the pennies at the moment and need to keep everyone fed for as little as possible, cooking on a bootstrap is a great place to start.

Affordable Dining Out: Lunch Out for Less

With loads of people feeling the pinch, most of the top supermarkets are offering deals to give families a helping hand over the summer holidays. For example, Tesco is offering free kids meals if you buy something for yourself and use your Club Card – you can fuel them up with a nice serving of beans on toast or a filling lunch of mac and cheese. At Asda Café this summer, a family of four can eat out for as little as £8.50, and adults eat half price. Steak and Ale Pie, served with mash and peas for £3.12? Bargain. Similar offers are available at M&S cafe, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Ikea and TGI Friday’s.

Combining Food and Fun: Food & Play

If your kids are eligible for free school meals, the summer holidays are likely to be even more of a challenge. That’s why many London councils (including Southwark, Lambeth, Westminster and Camden) are stepping in and offering fun summer activity schemes for kids that also include a free hot meal. Check out Southwark Council’s food and fun holiday programme; in Lambeth, there is summer food and fun, Westminster has the Holiday Activities & Food programme, and in Camden, it is the Holiday, Activities and Food (HAF) programme. Check out what’s on here.


In 2023, worrying about keeping kids fed shouldn’t be something we have to worry about. But that is real life for many of us right now, sadly. Here at London Mutual, we are all about doing what we can to help our members make their money go further. If you are looking for an affordable way to borrow – whether for unexpected expenses such as a boiler breakdown, car repairs and or childcare deposit, we may be able to help. Check out our Child Benefit loans, which let you to borrow up to £600 and repay in bite-sized instalments directly from your Child Benefit. We’ll even help you to build savings as you repay.

Charles Nyamukasa

Digital Marketing Apprentice at London Mutual Credit Union.

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