Living on a family budget is not an easy task – especially when you’re down to one income. But imagine cooking your family meals for less than $10 a pop? Sound impossible? Here’s 10 easy and delicious meals you can whip up for under $10.
(NB: The budget of $10 per meal may vary due to seasonal fluctuations, inflation, sales and regional availability of produce)
Kidspot’s Recipe editor, Jen Cheung, gives us her take on each.
1) Beef casserole
Casserole steak is one of the most tender, yet most economical cuts of meat you’ll find at the butcher, or the supermarket meat section. It’s perfect for slow cookers and after a day of stewing in sauce, is melt-in-your mouth juicy!
Jen says: “All in one pot and forgotten! This is a great one-pot dish that you can pop in the oven and enjoy the aroma while it slowly cooks.”
Beef casserole recipe
2) Bubble and squeak
An English classic! If you’ve cooked up a roast the night before, this family favourite is a great way to make the leftover meat, gravy, spuds and vegies stretch into another family meal.
Jen says: “A great way to use leftovers. Simple, filling and tasty!”
3) Vegetable curry
Cutting out meat from one meal a week can save at least $10 from your weekly food bill, and you’ll also be helping the environment.You may not know it, but meat production actually produces more global warming greenhouse gases than driving cars, according to the UN. So by having one meat-free night a week, you’ll be doing your little bit to help save the planet.
Jen says: “A great vegetarian winter-warming dish with an added tang of yogurt. You can use your leftover vegetables from the crisper to fill this curry.”
4) Chicken fried rice
Who doesn’t have rice in their pantry and what child doesn’t love chicken? You don’t need to buy expensive breast meat to make this easy recipe for chicken fried rice. Just toss in a few frozen vegies, along with some fresh ones, and you’re done. And, you’ll have a dinner on the table for under $10!
Jen says: “Skip the takeaway and make this great dish, packed full of flavour and vegies, at home.”
5) Bolognaise sauce
Calorie, sugar and salt laden supermarket shelf simmer sauces are pure evil! You can ensure your kids are getting their daily nutritional needs met by making your own simmer sauces – and you’ll absolutely save $ buying the ingredients for this homemade bolognaise sauce rather than a bottled imitation.
Jen says: “I make a pasta bake, chilli con carne, nachos, lasagne and more with this sauce. Store-bought sauces are great for super-fast meals, but for real flavour, they really need to be slow cooked and homemade.”
6) Curried sausages
Sausages are cheap. No doubt about it. And even if you splurge on the more expensive organic variety, you can still buy a half a kilo for under $10. This recipe for curried sausages will add a twist to your usual snags and three veg meal.
Jen says: “This curried sausage recipe appears in my house every week because it is cheap, nutritious and really tasty.”
7) Homemade family meat pie
Sure, you can buy a supermarket meat pie for under $10, but unless you scrutinise the ingredients lists, you don’t really know what mystery meat you’re feeding your kids. This homemade family pie makes a cheap and cheerful meal and is great for lunches the next day too.
Jen says: “A great pie that you can make with ingredients you already have in your pantry. All you need is some fresh mince and a little puff pasty.”
8) Spaghetti bake
Want to know how to make your buck go even further? Well, with leftover spaghetti bolognaise, cook up a little extra spaghetti and make this pasta bake. Voila, a cheap leftovers meal!
Jen says: “This is a really easy, fast recipe to make and will appeal to little ones. All little kids love spaghetti and meat.”
9) Fish cakes
Ah, a toddler staple! Fish cakes are also extremely economical. For the cost of a tin of salmon or tuna, you can make this easy meal stretch four ways and your kids are guaranteed to eat it – you may have leave off the chilli sauce though!
Jen says: “The really nice thing about this recipe is the chilli mayo. It appeals to mums’ and dads’ taste buds and kids love the patties.”
10 Lamb shank soup
Lamb shanks used to be one of the cheapest meats you can buy. Traditionally they were considered peasant food, but today with the popularity of slow cookers, they’ve become a steadfast family favourite and, indeed, a restaurant menu item too. This recipe for lamb shank soup requires four lamb shanks and although it will cost you over $10 to make, chances are you’ll have enough to make two meals.
Jen says: “A flavoursome and filling recipe full of delicious lamb shank meat, lentils and herbs – very satisfying on a winter’s night. It will last two nights, and will taste even better for lunch the next day!”
Basic, home brand or non-label supermarket products often come off the same conveyer belt as the more expensive brands of the same product. By buying these you will save serious $ at the checkout.