How a family with 14 children copes with rising costs

Zoe Sullivan laughs when she is asked how she gets away from the chaos of 12 children's lives.

How a family with 14 children copes with rising costs

Zoe Sullivan laughs when she is asked how she gets away from the chaos of 12 children's lives.

It's hectic, but that's what we have chosen to do. She says that she thinks we would be bored if there wasn't so much to do.

Zoe, 43, is from Lossiemouth, Moray. Ben, 47, is their husband. Their oldest child, Florence, is 17 years old, and Florence, three months.

Ben is an RAF engineer and the family rents quarters close by - a four bedroom house with a yard that Zoe claims has been a lifeline to the children during the Covid lockdown.

The Sullivan family lives an active lifestyle, which includes dance lessons, football matches and gymnastics.

However, as the UK's prices rise at the fastest rate in 40 years Zoe, a full-time mom, is being forced to look for new ways to reduce spending.

A weekly shop costs PS320. This includes toiletries, cleaning supplies, nappies, and money to buy lunches for older children.

This is a figure Zoe has been able to maintain steady over the past few years by tracking product costs across different supermarkets and avoiding names brands when necessary.

She says, "It's quite frightening." "We are always counting pennies, but now we have to be very careful about what we're purchasing.

I always notice when there is a 2p/3p increase. My kids love wraps that used to be PS1. They're now PS1.35, so I'll either buy a different brand, or another.

"We purchase branded products for certain things we like, such as Frosties. But if we had to, we'd switch to an unbranded version."

Zoe offers simple ways to make meals that can be shared with the entire family and reduce waste. These include one-pot meals that include soups, pastas, and mash made with a 1kg bag potato. You can also add items from your freezer to the mix.

She says that spaghetti bolognese is always delicious and easy to prepare. They all love it, even though we don't eat as much meat due to its high price.

"We make a lot stews in winter. You can either use vegetable or beef and it's very inexpensive. There are many people who are always around so you'll need something quick to bake.

The family doesn't eat out or travel abroad for holidays. Zoe and Ben gave up alcohol four years ago.

Zoe says that treats are the main item she has reduced for her family. However, this is not for financial reasons. Snacks such as chocolate and crisps are best kept for weekends.

Zoe states that they had more Christmas gifts than we did, but have cut back to keep the rest of our stuff."

"If we are going on a walk to the coast, we will take biscuits or a picnic. It's much cheaper to buy food at the supermarket than to eat out."

A food industry boss warned that food prices could increase by as much as 15% this year. With average wage increases not keeping up with inflation, many are starting to notice the effects on their budgets.

However, the largest contributor to inflation is currently energy bills. This is partly because oil and gas prices are still at high levels due to the Ukraine war.

Zoe claims this has been the hardest thing to keep up with. Their monthly gas and electricity bills nearly doubled. They also spent almost twice as much on fuel, going from PS120 to PS180 for two cars.

She says, "It comes from other things such as our budget for clothing." It's not an easy decision - it depends on how long you can keep it going. We are used to not traveling to many places, so we make the best of what we have around us.

"We are not isolated, but it can be difficult to get everyone around."

The family has their own YouTube channel where they share what they've done and answer questions.

Zoe says, "We don't want to appear like we're giving advise but if that happens it's a bonus."

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