Creating nutritious, easy and tasty meals for your family while on a budget is possible!
With just a little planning, smart shopping and recipe modification you can feed your family each night for well under $30. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:
Step 1: Plan ahead
- Plan your family menu for the week and write a shopping list.
- Use the shopping list to save you time, stick to your budget and avoid buying extra things you don’t need.
Step 2: Make cost saving food purchases
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season because they are usually cheaper and better have nutrient quality.
- Buy frozen or tinned fruit or vegetables are may not be in season but also cheaper and convenient.
- Use supermarket catalogue to purchase items on special.
- Buy no frills/home brand staple products (e.g. flour, sugar, salt etc.), as they are just as good as more expensive known brands.
- Buy non-perishable items such as rice, pasta, flour and oil in bulk as they are generally cheaper. You can also buy in bulk and freeze extra items such as bread, meat and milk to keep them fresh until you need them.
- Buy cheaper meat cuts for stews and curries such as, gravy beef, chump lamb chops, mutton lamb and chicken drumsticks.
Step 3: Make cost saving cooking choices:
- Make double-batches of meals or snacks such as pasta sauce, soup, stews or muffins, which you can freeze or pack as leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Replace half or all of the meat in dishes, such as stews, casseroles, pasta with legumes so the meat you buy goes further but you still get a good source of protein and fibre and vitamins from legumes.
- Use skim milk powder instead of fresh milk when cooking with milk.
- Keep snack simple and nutritious, e.g. fresh seasonal fruit, frozen fruit smoothies, cut-up veggies.
Vegetable packed meatballs
An easy and delicious family meal staple with a veggie loaded makeover that can be served in multiple ways! Serve the meatballs whole or cut-up as finger food for younger children and alongside cooked pasta, rice or bread
Makes about 25-30 meatballs
Cost – $17.40
400g lean beef/lamb mince
250g red kidney beans, drained and mashed
1 onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, finely grated
1 zucchini, grated
3 tblsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tblsp breadcrumbs/wholemeal flour or rice flour (gluten-free option)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tinned diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water or chicken stock
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line baking paper on oven tray.
- In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix together with your hands.
- Roll mixture into balls and place on prepared oven tray.
- Drizzle meatballs lightly with the oil and bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add diced tomatoes and tomato paste, garlic, stock and honey to a frying pan over medium heat.
- Carefully stir the baked meatballs and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Serve with prepared pasta, rice, bread or roasted potatoes.
Delfa Kaabi is the Paediatric Dietitian at Growing Early Minds, an early intervention and disability support provider based in Western Sydney. Delfa understands the challenges of feeding young children and the need for easy to implement, practical recommendations. Delfa loves nothing more than seeing children thrive to their fullest growth and developmental potential. For more information visit www.growingearlyminds.org.au
Get more budget meal recipes here.