With the cost of living spiralling out of control, finding ways to eat well, but affordably, can seem hard to come by.
But it can be done. By finding the right recipes, and with a bit of planning, you’ll be able to feed your family for under $5 per serving. Not only will it be filling, but it will also taste great and it’ll tick off every nutritional requirement.
But first, do some planning
Before you can kick off with the cooking, there are some things to keep in mind that can help to drive the cost down per serving:
1. Make a weekly meal plan.
If you know what you need ahead of time, then you’ll be able to significantly cut down on expensive waste by making sure you’re only purchasing the ingredients that you need for that week’s meals. Sit down for an hour or so once per week and brainstorm out the meals, and then do a quick inventory and list out the ingredients that you need. Hey presto, you’ve got your weekly shopping list.
2. Cook a lot and freeze extra portions.
Making good use of that freezer can significantly cut down on per-meal costs. Prepare larger quantities of meals and freeze individual portions for later use. This method allows you to buy ingredients in larger quantities, taking advantage of bulk discounts. Soups, stews, and casseroles are excellent options for batch cooking and can be easily reheated. As an added benefit, you’ll save yourself some time during the week.
3. Make good use of staples.
Individual portions of things like rice and pasta can be expensive, but you can buy these things in bulk and store them for a long time. They’ll then be on hand when you need them, and they’ll contribute just cents to the overall price of preparing a meal. They also tend to be filling and ensure that your meals are satisfyingly filling.
4. Avoid the supermarkets for produce.
Fresh produce is incredibly important for nutrition, but sourcing it from supermarkets can be incredibly expensive and will often result in a lot of waste, because the produce sold at supermarkets can be several days old and have a limited “shelf life”. That’s where Good and Fugly comes in. A weekly box will not only save you on the supermarket bill, but the produce will be fresher and last longer.
Now you’re ready to cook!
How to get the per-serving cost down
There are two simple rules that you want to follow to get that per-serving cost down: firstly, you want to keep the number of ingredients down (while keeping great flavour, of course!). Secondly, you want to cook in bulk, so many $5/serving recipes will be “one pot” recipes – think stews, curries, soups and the like.
Also look for vegan and vegetarian options. Meat tends to be the most expensive thing on a plate, so if you can fill the belly without meat at least a few times per week, you’ll see your overall food bill drop. When you do have meat, the best option is chicken, which is less expensive than beef, pork, or lamb.
With these rules in mind, here are some great recipes that you can make a large amount of, store excess portions in the freezer, and keep to under $5 per serving:
Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
- 2 onions cut into rings
- 2 capsicums sliced
- 4 chicken lovely legs
- 4 (cutlets) chicken thighs
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 300 g salsa dip
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 pinch salt
This dish will take a chunk of time, but if you’re working from home, or preparing several meals for the week ahead at the same time, then this is a great option for some exotic flavours. And it’s so simple! All you need to do is place the chicken and vegetables (and feel free to replace the veggies in the recipe with what arrives in your Good and Fugly box!) in the slow cooker, cover them with the salsa, and then cook on low for eight hours. When it’s time to serve, combine the tomato sauce, cumin, cornflour and salt, add to the cooker and cook on high for ten minutes.
Serve this with some rice and you’ve got a hit!
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 kg chicken thigh fillets
- 3 tbs curry powder
- 1 brown onion diced large
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 2 tbs sugar
- 400g coconut cream
- 2 cups rice
This is the perfect meal to produce a huge amount of and freeze, because it’s a timeless favourite and easy to eat under any circumstances. Simply cut the chicken up, brown it, then add the rest of the ingredients until the chicken is cooked through. It’ll take 30 minutes, tops, and you can prepare larger amounts of it all at once.
This is another dish that you can add just about every vegetable to for additional textures and taste.
- 1 kg zucchini sliced
- 2 onions chopped medium
- 2 potatoes cubed medium
- 2 carrots diced large
- 50 g butter
- 4 cups chicken liquid stock
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Nothing warms the soul quite like a hearty soup, and this zucchini one is a classic way to use a lot of the produce that will arrive in your Good and Fugly box. All you need is a large stock pot. Add the butter and all the vegetables, stir well to make sure all the veggies are coated, and then add the chicken stock. Simmer until the veggies are soft, and then it’s all ready for blending into soup. This soup is thick, rich, packed with nutrients and flavours, and forget about $5 per serving. This one will set you back just $2-$3 per bowlful.
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped large
- 400 g mushrooms finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 425 g canned tomatoes
- 4 tbs red wine
- 4 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried basil leaves
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 1 packet spaghetti
Bolognaise is a family and budget favourite, but traditionally you cook it with beef. That, unfortunately, spirals the cost of the bolognaise out, but thankfully this mushroom alternative brings it back on the menu. Start by frying up the onion in a saucepan, then add the chopped mushrooms. Five minutes later add the tomatoes, wine, tomato paste and basil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with spaghetti, and freeze the leftovers for extra meals down the track.
- 3 bacon rashers
- 2 onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 carrots
- 2 potato
- 2 parsnips
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 2 zucchinis
- 2 tomato
- 1 cup fresh beans
- 4 cups beef liquid stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbs oil
Every Good and Fugly box comes with all-new produce to use, and the best way to use it all up is with a minestrone soup. You don’t need to use these exact veggies – simply swap in whatever comes in the box!
Simply dice up the veggies, drop them in the biggest stockpot you have, and then add the bacon (which is optional). Stir it all together for a few minutes, and then add the beef stock. Add additional water as necessary to make as much as you need, and then simmer it all so the rich flavour is brought into the liquid. For a bit more protein, drain a can of red kidney beans and toss them in too.
Having a budget doesn’t mean a flavour compromise
As you can see, there’s a lot you can achieve with a budget of $5 per serving. And, when you think about it, if you make all of these, and then freeze an extra portion of each, not only will you have flavours that take you all around the world each week, but the total budget will be $35 per person, per week, and you could easily get all of these cooked up in a single day – put aside one Sunday and you’ll have all your meals sorted for two weeks.
A couple of final quick tips
If you want to get even more economical, here are some handy additional tips that can save you even more money:
- Keep the off-cuts
Carrot and potato peels, broccoli stems and the fat off meat can be useful, so don’t just toss them. Instead, freeze all the off-cuts until you’ve got a large amount, and then toss them all into a pot with salt and pepper, and some herbs like mint, rosemary or coriander. Boil that for a few hours, and you’ll have a flavour-packed stock that will save you having to add that to your shopping list.
- Make your own snacks, too
Snacking can quickly add to the overall cost of the shopping trolley, but at the same time, snacks are important! Rather than rely on potato chips or chocolate, however, you can easily cook up some of your own. For example, that bunch of kale in your Good and Fugly box makes excellent chips when baked.
- Don’t forget the cost of drinks
It’s often overlooked, but a bottle of soft drink, glass or beer or carafe of wine takes that $5 meal and instantly turns it into a $10, $20 or even more meal. When eating on a budget you’ll want to stick to water, but not everyone enjoys water. There is a solution here, though! A squeeze of fruit juice into the water gives it flavour, or you can plan ahead and infuse any number of fruits and vegetables with water. Strain the fruit out after 12-18 hours (so it doesn’t start to decompose in the water) and you’ll be able to enjoy that for three-four days refrigerated.
Good and Fugly boxes make it easier than ever to achieve those $5 meals. Why not give one a go and see for yourself? Click here to shop!