Cut your food bill and improve your health

It can be difficult trying to cut your food bill spending and getting all the nutrition you need. But it doesn't have to be! We've done the sums and prepared weekly menu plans – for families, couples and singles – to show how you can save on your food shopping, and keep a healthy diet as well.

These menu plans cover every meal and snack for the week, and include all the nutrition every member of the household needs – all the energy, nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need to be healthy (based on guidelines from the Ministry of Health). Using recipes from our archive, we’ve created menus that are also significantly cheaper than the average food costs for different households.

We’ve priced these menus based on an average budget-friendly supermarket. We followed these rules:

  • we bought things on special whenever possible
  • we used as much seasonal produce as possible
  • we chose supermarket ‘own brand’ products when they were the cheapest option available
  • we bought bulk packs of staple items and allowed for storage in pantry and freezer
  • we included homemade versions of pre-packaged products such as hummus and pesto.
  • we made our own yoghurt (using bought mixes – save even more by doing it from scratch).

NOTE: Some ingredients on the shopping lists are things you need for the recipes in the menus, that you won’t need to buy every week. This means your initial shopping trip may cost slightly more, but in future, your shopping will be cheaper.

  • checking out the specials at specialty butchers and fruit and vege shops
  • checking all the bulk bins for dry goods
  • shopping at Asian supermarkets for specialty Asian ingredients
  • shopping at roadside stalls and farmers’ markets for fruit and veges
  • buying items in bulk then freezing them, such as meat and cheese on special
  • planting your own herbs, salad mix, spinach, silver beet and other veges.

Buy once a month (or as needed): These pantry basics are things you may not buy every week. We recommend buying in bulk and storing.

  • canned chickpeas
  • canned lentils
  • canned tomatoes
  • coffee
  • cooking oil spray
  • dried chickpeas
  • dried herbs
  • dried lentils
  • flour (white, wholemeal)
  • garlic
  • honey
  • Marmite/Vegemite
  • Milo
  • onions (red, brown, as required)

Buy occasionally: These occasional purchases are not included in the main shopping lists. Buy these as budget allows, when on special.

  • bacon
  • balsamic vinegar
  • beer
  • chocolate
  • herb paste
  • nut oils such as walnut and sesame
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • wine

Menu plan for families
Menu plan for couples
Menu plan for singles

First published: Mar 2010

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