Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dinner on a budget

The kids and I watched Food Inc. over the school holidays.

It was a real eye-opener for us, but especially them.

There were some parts in the movie that really upset them, such as the scenes of animal slaughter and the like, but I'm glad it's enabled them to question what they eat and what others eat.

The interview with the family who felt 'forced' to basically live on a diet of McDonald's really got to them.

They wanted to know why that family felt they had to eat junk food every day.

I explained to them about how different people have different priorities in life and how some people don't know how to cook from scratch.

Little Man said, "but you know how to, don't you mum?"

I took this opportunity with both hands and ran with it.

We set ourselves a challenge to see how little we could spend on a filling meal.

We settled on an old favourite - savoury mince.

* * *

First, chop an onion or two and fry in oil with enough curry powder to taste until the onions are opaque.

We had bought just over a kilo of mince at the supermarket that had been reduced to $8.43 and had used half of it two nights previously for spaghetti.

So that means the meat component of this meal was about $4.20. 

 Brown the mince with the onions.

I add heaps of mixed frozen vegies (or you can use fresh if you like, diced small).

It costs about $2 for a kilogram bag of no-name mixed frozen vegetables at the supermarket. 

I used about a 1/4 of the bag so that worked out to be about 50c.

Once they are all mixed in together I add a couple of scoops of gravy mix, adjust seasonings such as curry, pepper and herbs, and mix in.

I also like to add some halved cherry tomatoes from the garden, just for fun.

Finally, I add water to the gravy mix; I add water as I go until I get the desired consistency.

Then I put the lid on and simmer until cooked.

I stir it occasionally and add water as needed.

The best thing is, this meal came to just over $5.50.

I added a couple of packets of cooked 2 minute noodles (about 38c a pack - no name ones).

This gave us two meals over two nights.

You could bulk it up with extra vegetables, serve it with mashed potatoes, turn it into shepherds pie, add a tin of kidney beans and add chilli powder - anything you like.  

We also like it for breakfast the next day on toast with eggs.

So, I guess, if you put your mind to it, you can feed a family for less than at a fast food place.

And I'm glad I've taught my children that very important lesson.


  1. Well done--a great lesson for your children. I'm all for buying mark-downs and 'no-name' if possible. I find if I go to the shops in the late afternoons, products are being marked down (stores in South Africa are not 24 hrs, the longest hours of a food-type store around us is 8.30 pm.....this is better than the 'old days' when everything closed at 5 pm and no trading whatsoever on Sundays).

    (Found you from Rhonda's Down to Earth).

  2. Awesome lesson to teach the kids. As I was making peanut butter the other day, my oldest son looked at me and asked, "Why do you have to make EVERYTHING now?" It cracked me up and he laughed too. He then answered his own question, and I realized that he has learned a lot over the past couple of years. They are never too young to learn to appreciate quality foods.

    Food Inc was quite the eye-opener for so many people we know. It's great to realize that you really can feed your family for less than you think!


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