Five family dinners for $60*


Budget-food blogger Kathrine Lynch is known for her meal challenges - 62 cooked meals for $100 and Christmas dinner for $15 a head.

So it’s no problem for Kathrine to take one $60 bag of groceries (plus a few pantry staples) and create five easy family dinners for four people. She does it all the time.

A typical menu is planned using online supermarket shopping, to compare prices and figure out how to stretch the budget the furthest. Kathrine put together this weeknight menu for her family: Spaghetti Bolognaise, Mince Wraps, Herb and Butter Chicken with Roast Veges, Chicken and Roast Vege Couscous, and Bacon and Vegetable Mash - all for just under $60.

Kathrine often cooks her protein in bulk. So, a basic mince will be used in the spag bol, then gussied up with the addition of avocado and tomato in the wraps. Extra chicken drumsticks that aren't used in the Herb and Butter Chicken with Roast Veges will be deboned and go into the Chicken and Roast Vege Couscous.

“Meat is always the most expensive ingredient,” notes Kathrine. “Buy meat that is on special and freeze for future meals. Stretch your meat by incorporating chickpeas, lentils, eggs and beans in meals for added protein. And try to serve one or two vegetarian dinners each week to cut costs and increase your vegetable intake.”

Kathrine’s Bacon and Vegetable Mash is kid-friendly comfort food that is also packed with vegetables: onion, potato, pumpkin, kumara, carrot and creamed corn. A little bit of bacon goes a long way, flavour-wise.

Vegetables that are in season are always the cheapest (check online to see what crops are best when, if you don’t know). If you are using a recipe that requires a vegetable you can’t easily get hold of, try frozen.

Kathrine also has a solution for those times when you get a hankering for takeaways, which can blow the budget (and threaten the waistline if you overindulge). She keeps ingredients for several easy, cheap and quick meals in her pantry at all times, to limit temptation. Stir fries, wraps and fried rice are family-approved staples that can be whipped up using some flavour packets, tortillas, rice, frozen vegetables and a bit of chicken or beef.

Shopping list:

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 1.8kg chicken drumsticks
  • 350g bacon pieces
  • 2 onions
  • 2kg carrots
  • 2kg potatoes
  • 1 pumpkin
  • 1kg frozen beans
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 500g red kumara
  • 500g couscous
  • Packet of tortillas
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 jar of passata sauce
  • 1 tin of creamed corn
  • 500g spaghetti pasta

Total $57.02

*Figure based on cost for these items at PaknSave Royal Oak on 05/03/2021. Subject to price fluctuation and item availability.

Pantry staples

  • Butter
  • salt and pepper
  • dried mixed herbs
  • sweet chilli sauce
  • milk

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