This post has been bubbling away in the back of my mind for some time as I’ve reflected on the ways I try to save my own sanity and hip-pocket when it comes to feeding our family. What follows are the three main ways I find work for our family. I hope you’ll find them helpful.
1. Weet-Bix or Porridge for Dinner
We seriously do this at least twice a week, more often when life is more hectic than usual. When we first started doing it, our kids were quite little – the eldest around 2 years old. At first, to make it ‘normal’ we used to put some fun music on really loud and dance around the house singing “It’s breakfast for dinner tonight!” but we only had to do that a couple of times and it became a normal part of our family culture. These days the kids don’t bat an eyelid when told it’s a porridge night. Make it special by adding grated apple, a handful of sultanas and a dollop of yoghurt. Home brand quick cooking oats are less than a dollar a packet and I keep large stocks of these in the pantry ready to go.
2. Make Enough for Two Meals
My friend Nicole does this all the time and I often do too. Its cost effective because there are less ingredients used and needed over the course of the week and it saves time only needing to cook every second day. Throw in a porridge night each week and you only need to cook three times.
3. Meat and Three Veg
If you stick to cheaper cuts of meat such as chicken drumsticks, sausages, rissoles and anything that’s on a good special, meat and three veg meals are amongst the easiest and cheapest dinners. My favourite version of this right now is cheap fillets of fish such as Whiting or Basa, tossed in White Wings Crumb in One and panfried in three minutes flat. Just add some microwave steamed veggies and your favourite seasonings such as Tartare Sauce or lemon juice. It tastes terrific and it’s dinner cooked in ten minutes!
What do you do to save time and money when feeding people?
These caramelised peaches are one of my favourite summer desserts. They’re so yummy as well as fast and easy to make – so much so that I simply make it in front of guests while they’re waiting for main course to settle a little. The end result is a healthier type of dessert and it works even without the brown sugar if you’re trying to avoid adding it. The cost of this dessert depends on the current price of peaches and your preference for ice-cream, but easily falls in the affordable category. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or thick Greek style yoghurt and a handful of fresh blueberries if they’re as well priced as they are right now – $2.75 a punnet at Woolworth’s.
- 1 peach per person, halved with stone removed
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- blueberries, ice-cream and yoghurt to serve
- Preheat a frypan or grill to full whack
- Press the wet half of each peach into the brown sugar and place sugar side down in the pan. Cook until sugar caramelises and peach starts to soften slightly
- Turn peaches and cook the outside half briefly until starting to soften also
- Place two peach halves, caramel side up in each person’s bowl. Add ice-cream, or yoghurt and berries. Enjoy!
Zucchini Slice has got to be one of my favourite money saving meals and it gets a regular workout around here in the summer months. Rather than spending money on expensive meat for a barbeque when having people over, I often choose some good quality sausages to cook on the barbie accompanied by Zucchini Slice and a fresh salad. As well as being so affordable, this little number has two other benefits: first, from dicing the onions to chopping the bacon, to whisking the eggs and grating the cheese, it can all be made using various blades of the food processor. Second, it can be made up to a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge to avoid cooking stress on the day your guests come over. To make this slice, originally from the Women’s Weekly, using the quantities that follow, costs around $6 and serves 6+. The photo above is a double quantity which neatly fits a roasting sized dish.
- 375g zucchini, grated
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 rashers of bacon, sliced or chopped
- 1 cup grated cheese
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 1/2 cup oil (I use rice bran oil)
- 5 eggs
- salt and pepper
- Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, finely chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, SR flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.
- Pour into a well-greased or baking paper lined lamington tin 16cm x 26cm, bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned.