4 Meals for $20.00 – Nah! Too Expensive!
Everybody is talking about “great value meals” 4 for $20.00. Convenience and fast food create a “feeding frenzy” in our homes especially when you can feed an entire family of 4 on a “budget” for only $20.00 a meal! Bargain right? McDonalds do it, heck even MyBudget are promoting it in their blogs…! We wont settle for this at Adelaide Budgeting as 4 meals for $20.00 is very expensive especially if you are on a stringent budget.
4 for $20.00 = $140.00 per week for dinner time, over 7 days!
4 for $20.00 = $280.00 per week for dinner and lunches, over 7 days!
This is where we believe that meal planning and planning your grocery shop ahead is key! Keep it fun and friendly when you think about the week ahead…. mince Monday, tuna Tuesday, leftover Wednesday, tuna bake Thursday, fajita Friday, Saturday night – pizza night, and stir-fry Sunday meal prep! *Adelaide Budgeting pro-tip* If you are cooking for 4 people, try to make 5-6 meals this way you have lunch for tomorrow or a meal for another night. You could always freeze the extra meal (meal depending), to save money on other nights.
A lower cost meat cut (like mince or tinned tuna) will keep longer and go further. You can also include pasta and/or rice to your dishes to help them fill more plates and bowls as required. To stick with a meal plan you must find some recipes that the whole family enjoys.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Pick one or two recipes that your family really likes and you feel comfortable making. You don’t need to cook like a MasterChef to impress. Keep the ingredients to a minimum. There is no point making something that requires lots of exotic ingredient in small quantities that will sit in the back of the cupboard for months.
Take an inventory of your pantry and cupboards to see what ingredients you already have and build meals around that. By doing this you are refreshing yourself of what you already have. This also helps you to reduce waste by only purchasing what you actually need. Using seasonal fruits and vegetables will also help you save money.
Allocate some time each week to create a meal plan. Try to build your meals around what you already have. Check your calendar to decide what day you are going to make multiple meals. Make sure you allow a couple of hours where you aren’t rushed so you can feel relaxed. After all you want this to be a routine and you want to enjoy it! Set aside a few hours on a Sunday morning to cook up all your meals for the week. You might even choose to cook midweek to keep your weekend free, its completely up to you. You can even get the kids to help you prepare the ingredients. It even shows your kids how quick, easy, tasty, simple, and fun food can be which will upskill them as adults!
Workout how many meals you will be able to make from each recipe and make sure you have enough containers and freezer/fridge room to fit them. There is nothing worse than making multiple meals and not having enough containers to fit them in.
Make a shopping list. Once you know what you are making you can check the supermarket catalogues for specials and make some real and significant savings.
You don’t need to assign particular meals to particular days, only unless you want to be ultra-stringent and run the household like a drill Sargent! Some people need variety and by all means if it is easier to know exactly what you are having any given day then go right ahead.
Andrew and I have a few staple recipes that we love to make on a Sunday morning which gets us out of trouble as quite often our afternoons turn into evening appointments very quickly without much down time. By cooking on the Sunday and freeze it allows us the opportunity to heat up quickly in the microwave rather than relying on take-away foods which make us fatter and feel like we are running on one cylinder due to not getting the correct nutrients! One of our favourites is our Honey and Soy Chicken Stir-fry.
We rely on you having the staples in your fridge first – Jars of crushed/chopped garlic, ginger, chilli, honey and soy sauce all of which flavour the dish but at very minimal cost. Simply chop the following:
- Capsicum – One Large.
- Broccoli – 1-2 Heads.
- Mushrooms – ½ to 1 500g Punnet.
- Carrots – 2-3 sliced thinly.
- Onion – One Full Onion Sliced Finely.
- Chicken (8-10 thighs).
- Other veggies (use up what’s left in the fridge as you see fit, the more the merrier, even throw in brussel sprouts if you like!)
Cook Chicken, throw in chopped garlic, honey and Soy Sauce (ginger/chilli optional), throw in the rest and stir-fry. Add a few cups of cooked rice and let it mix with all the veggies. The volume we make varies between 7-8 meals. 2 are left in the fridge for Sunday night dinner, the rest are frozen for those hectic nights where we need a quick healthy fix. The best thing is cost – this meal is around the $18.00-$22.00 varied on veggie cost making it $2.25 – $2.75 per serve based on 8 serves! 4 for $20? We don’t think so…. 4 for $20 is NOT budget friendly!
*Photo courtesy of Andrew Mates dodgy iPhone photo skills!
We do this on a Sunday morning. It takes about 30 mins, clean up incorporated. Not only that, we don’t have a full functioning kitchen yet, we haven’t since July 2018. This meal is fast, easy and simple and cookable on one single ikea induction cook top (which I hate). The meals are dirt cheap, very tasty, very healthy and amazing value for money! It’s much easier being prepared, cooking extra and freezing, and knowing that when days get out of hand you have a frozen meal to rely on that is fresher and healthier than any take away you could get!
Great for weightloss too!
At Adelaide Budgeting we are a small and passionate team dedicated to making budgeting simple, easy and fun. We pride ourselves on the ability to remove anxiety and create empowerment around budgeting for each and every single one of our clients.