Saturday, 5 July 2008

How to Feed Your Family...Cheap

This was the headline on A Current Affair last night. I watched with interest, thinking "wow, $75. I wonder how they do it. I'm sure to learn something I didn't know".

I learned nothing new :( And what I learned is that this family use no meat and that their morning and afternoon teas both include cakes. Not so healthy and doubly disappointing. The $75 also, obviously didn't include the few cleaning items that I buy, or bandaids & panadol! I was pleased to see that ACA had a nutritionist or someone saying that having no meat might save money now but would result in health & medical bills later. For myself, I know this to be true. We ate 50% vegetarian a few years back because we just couldn't afford more meat, but I didn't know that I should've added more legumes to our diet. My iron levels suffered. So it was either buy meat, or buy iron pills...which then block you up.

Us meat eaters can still eat cheaper than most people think is possible. You just adjust the cuts of meat you use to suit your budget. I made Lamb Shank & Vegie soup last night using lamb neck rosettes. They were $4.99/kg and had heaps more flavour than the shanks, because of the neck bones. There was still enough meat to get a good serving each. Whenever I need to buy chicken fillets, I use chicken thigh cutlets. They still have the bone in and it's a pain to cut it out, but the savings are so worth it. The difference in price is about $8/kg!!!!

A friend of mine made us a beautiful lunch the other day, of vegetables & chickpeas in a tomato based sauce over cheesy polenta. I loved it so much I had to ask for the recipe the other day. My kids wouldn't eat it, but I can make that for a healthy lunch for myself. For those whose kids don't mind 'wretched evil beanies' (ie legumes) it would be perfect!

What I learned last night is that we're doing pretty well...for a meat eating family. I generally spend about $100-$130 each week. For some reason, the last month has been around $110. We have all enjoyed the meals we've eaten and they included a wide variety of styles. I've been under my budget :). If you're spending a lot more and want to save along with us. There's enough menu plans here now for you to go through and pick out what you like. Try a couple of vegetarian meals each week. Two or so each week will be good for your health and your budget ;)


The Tin House said...

Hi Tracy, this post reminded me of a programme a few years back about people in the US below the poverty line and it showcased one particular mum who was heading straight to the freezer for each meal - hot dogs, prefab burgers, etc. I felt so sad for her, that her experience just didn't allow her to see how cheaply you can eat without eating junk. For her, the cheapest things were the crap. There are still plenty of people willing themselves into believing this. Mind you, when you can buy a family sized pizza for $5.99...

I would love it if DH & kids ate tinned fish which I LOVE. It's really cheap and healthy but alas, like your evil beanies, mine won't touch tuna, salmon, sardines etc with a barge pole.

Tracy said...

LOL Lisa...sounds like both our families have their idea of what constitutes evil food!

My kids all enjoy tuna & rice, but they won't eat tinned fish any other way.

Anonymous said...

Home-cooked wins every time! Your menus are always varied and yummy! Well done for feeding your family frugally AND healthily!

Love, Tina :)

Tracy said...

Thanks Tina :)

Deeny said...

I tend to be stuck in a rut in meal planning. I was taught you plan a meal around a meat entree, then have a starchy compliment, vegetable, and salad. Very Old fashioned planning around the 4/5 food groups. I have been trying to add more vegetarian or almost vegetarian nights in my weekly menus. My sister is a Vegan. I just can't do the Vegan thing. I don't think I could cook or bake without any dairy. But I have made many nice vegetarian meals. I don't think vegetarian eating is all that cheap. Fresh produce is expensive and much does not freeze well such as lettuces. I can extend meat with whole grain starches and love one dish casseroles and meals. I use to be able to feed a family of 5 for under a $100 a week. Not anymore, but also I am not as frugal as I use to be. That was back when i cooked absolutely everything from scratch. I average probably today $150 US dollars on food per week for a family of 5. I know that probably is a lot to some. I still like to get the most for my money and consider my self relatively frugal still. Two of my favorite Sites for Low Cost Eating Are
Hillbillly Housewife - Lots of Good Info
and Frugal Abundance

Smile :-)

Tracy said...

In Australia it is a lot cheaper to eat vegetarian. Most meats would tend to be around the $10/kg and up, apart from chicken pieces with the bone in. Ricotta on the other hand is only around $5.

We don't eat salads during the winter, so the kinds of meals I make are with a vegetarian 'main' and the same vegies I would serve with meat anyway.

Unless you are careful with your nutrition, being vegan or any kind of vegetarian can have a significant impact on your health. It's not something one should take on lightly.