Mum-of-three Deanne Wilson had to leave her £2,000 a month role as a health and social care lecturer after being diagnosed with throat cancer in February this year.
But she says she's proved that even if you live on a low income, you can still eat well – and even shops in upmarket stores such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer by snapping up price reduced bargains at the end of the day.
Single mum Deanne, 43, – whose children are Ben, 19, Josh, 15, and five-year-old Amie - said: "I can feed my family on £30 a week. They even get extras and treats, but they're not rubbish and not processed.
"I go to supermarkets like Waitrose and Marks and Spencer. They reduce some of the good quality food at certain times of the day.
"Just because I'm on benefits, why should I be feeding my children processed sugar?"
Deanne, from Leeds, receives £221 a week in tax credit, employment support allowance and child benefits - but insists she still manages to cook fresh, healthy meals every day.
Among her past successes is a selection of 10 M&S sandwiches for £1, a selection of organic Waitrose vegetables for less than £1, lamb steaks reduced to 5p from Asda and an entire Morrisons shop - that at full price would have cost £80 - for £12.
She uses the bulk of her budget to buy quality meat, before padding out meals with fresh fruit and vegetables.
She said: "The food is marked down because it's going out of date in a day or so, but because I cook everything fresh every day it makes no difference.
"I have given my children the opportunity to know that just because we don't have money, doesn't mean we can't eat good, proper food."
Despite living on a budget, Deanne spends £50 a month on designer gear for herself and daughter Amie - from charity shops.
Her latest finds saw her buy three dresses, two tops and a skirt for her daughter - all designer - for £30.
Her other favourite purchases include an Armani Coat for £9 and a Gucci Bag bought for £5.
She said: "My daughter and I still manage to wear designer clothing. I call them boutiques but they're actually charity shops."
Her other secrets to saving money are buying in bulk and haggling with shops for a reduction in prices.
She said: "I barter all the time. There was this table which was solid oak and meant to be £500 but I got it for £100. It's knowing the shops to go to.
"I'll also go to Costco and buy things in bulk like washing powder and washing up liquid. It works out a lot cheaper."
DEANNE'S WEEKLY SHOP:
Fruit and veg - £4.50
Chicken - £4
Turkey - £4.50
Sausages - £1.50
Large bag of rice - £5
Bread - 50p
Milk - £3.50
Bottled water - 60p
Juice - 99p
Cheese - £1
Popcorn - £1
Total - £27.09
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