There's no need to spend a fortune to eat well. Here are some helpful tips for preparing enjoyable meals on a budget.
Convenience and take-away food tends to cost more so it will save you money to prepare meals and snacks yourself from basic ingredients. Don't be put off by TV cooking shows that make every meal look like it's from a restaurant - simple meals can be family favourites. Pack healthy snacks in re-usable containers, such as popcorn, nuts, crispbread, and dried fruit. Check out our healthy weekly menu plan for some great ideas.
Shop regularly to ensure you have the basic ingredients to put a meal together. Keep your pantry stocked with staples such as: rice, pasta, noodles, dried peas and beans; canned tomatoes, fish and fruit; herbs and spices, so even when the fridge is bare you can whip up a meal.
Plan meals in advance and shop with a list to avoid impulse purchases.
Shop healthy to be healthy: buy mostly fresh and minimally processed foods from around the edges of the supermarket.
Shop at cheaper supermarkets and buy cheaper brands, and find the cheapest brand using unit pricing (i.e. cost per 100g/100ml or per kg/L).
Buy in season
Buy fresh vegetables and fruit when they are in season because they are cheaper as well as at their nutritional peak.
Frozen vegetables and fruit are just as nutritious as fresh. Freezing leftovers is a great way to reduce waste and create another quick and easy meal. Mark items with the date and use them within a few months to retain quality. Freezing slicing bread and taking out only what you need saves waste. Freeze meat, chicken and fish in meal-sized portions.
Buy only what you need and will eat. Leftovers can be transformed into a new meal. For example, roast chicken can be made into chicken and vegetable pasta (and the carcass simmered to make stock). Leftover roast dinner can be made into soup. Leftover casserole can be used as a toasted sandwich filling, or served with a different base (eg couscous, mash potato, noodles) and a different green vegetable on the side (eg peas, broccoli or green beans).