Today I want to talk about dinners. Yes … I fed my family for $50 per week, and the most common question I’m asked is “didn’t you buy meat?”. My answer … yes I did, but I was smart about it. I bought most of my meat at Aldi, sausages at Coles (so much less fat, but still cheap), and chicken breast and beef mince at the butchers at the big shopping centre. I would visit there once a fortnight and buy my meat in bulk (because it was cheaper). When I got it home, I would split it into snaplock bags, 500g each, and store them flat in the freezer.
I went through my menu list and tried to mix it up so we didn’t eat chicken every night or mince dishes every night. Some of our favourite meals were:
Pizza – CLICK HERE for recipe
Satay Chicken (just like my fave Thai Restaurant makes) – CLICK HERE for recipe
Chicken Pesto Pasta
Rissoles & Salad
Home-made Chicken strips (coat chicken with mayonnaise & roll in crushed cornflakes)
Baked Potatoes with savory mince
Savory mince with mash
The internet is a treasure trove of ideas for cheap meals. I am also a big fan of the Simple Savings $21 Challenge book (CLICK HERE), as it has a lot of good, basic meal and baking ideas and recipes that don’t break the bank. In fact, sign up for their newsletter .. it’s full of incredible money saving ideas!
I have a very fussy eater in my house, and so it wasn’t as easy as bulking out meals with lots of vegetables. However, you can hide a LOT of veges in mince dishes. If your vege-hater is as bad as mine, I recommend cooking your veges and pureeing them in their cooking water. Then you can freeze the puree in ice cube trays, and store in plastic bags to add to meals. If it’s pureed, they can’t pick the pieces out!
I would often cook double batches, that way we could have leftovers one night a week, and hubby had something nice to take for lunch the next day. Oh, yes … buying lunch is definately part of your weekly food bill, and that had to stop immediately! He also bought a can of softdrink every day, and at $2.50 a pop, that really added up. It was a luxury he wasn’t willing to forego, so I bought slabs of softdrink cans from Coles, Aldi or Big W (whatever was cheapest per can) and he took those. Usually they can be bought in bulk for less than 50c per can. That’s a saving of $10 a week, or $520 per year! I did write more on this subject, which you can READ HERE. Another book I really love is the Kaotic Kitchen Mince & Sausage cookbook. The thai chicken meatballs are DIVINE!!! You can find it HERE, and I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift. The 4 Ingredients books would also be an excellent resource.
If you are making lots of pizza, Aldi definately has the cheaper cheese, but you don’t have to reach for the bag of pizza cheese. Take a minute to look at what’s on offer. You will see blocks of cheese, and bags that are pre-grated. Look at the price per kg or 100g … which is cheaper? At the time, it was cheaper to buy block cheese, and the kids got pretty good with the grater. Now, though, it’s cheaper to buy it pre-grated. Also compare … what’s the price of the pizza cheese x 2 bags compared to buying one bag of grated tasty and one bag of grated mozzerella? Is it cheaper to mix it yourself?
When it comes to dinners, you don’t have to miss out. Sure, we skipped the salmon and steak and takeaway for 3 months, but we didn’t miss it. We ate better than we usually did, and everyone pitched in. I had a lot more time to cook from scratch, because with hubby home, he took over the housework, giving me time in the kitchen! Yes … I know … he is a keeper!