In this day and age food is getting more and more expensive and it's no joke when feeding a family healthy meals it can become very stressful financially. While we often get drilled about healthy food doesnt cost more on news sites it really depends what supermarkets you have access to. Meaning that if Aldi or Costco are not in your area it is frustrating to be told that you can survive on $100 a week to feed a family.
$100 can be very extreme for some families so at least consider a few things.
Always look at the packaging or lack of
Most of the time less packaging means a cheaper product but not always so compare the price per 100g.
Consider all brands
Most of the time your home brands are going to be cheaper. As an example you can buy home brand oats for $1.50 vs almost $5 for a brand name for exactly the same amount of oats. When the supermarkets have specials though, the brand could be cheaper.
Grow what you can
Vertical gardens, retaining walls or a veggie patch in the garden. Using seeds is the most cost effective way or regrowing from veggies you have already bought from the shops. If I buy capsicums I de seed them and throw the seeds in the garden to get capsicum plants and do the same with pumpkin, zucchini and potatoes.
I have devised a bit of a inventory of the kinds of things to use in your family meals to ensure everyone is full and healthy and your family budget isn't up the creek without a paddle.
They do fantastic things for the body such as stabilise sugar levels, provide fibre to help keep you regular and contain protein to aid in muscle repair and keep you feeling full. While they are a great for breakfast as porridge they are so versatile and can be used in dessert as part of a crumble or added to smoothies or yoghurt.
Beans, Lentils and Chick Peas
These are packed full of nutrition and help to bulk out meals and can also be used as a meat replacement in lots of dishes. You can create meals such as curries, casseroles, soups or add them to salads. The dried ones in the packets are generally cheaper as they require soaking/ preparation for meals but great for the budget.
Rice, Noodles and Pasta
Where you can, buy these in bulk too and if possible opt for the brown/wholemeal style as they are less processed and give a slower release of energy ( low GI.)
Potatoes are not only a source of carbohydrate but white potatoes are also thought to assist with depression.A healthier version of chips can be made by cooking chip shaped potatoes in the oven with some coconut oil, side dishes such as mash or potato bake or potato salad. You can also visit farmers markets and pick up sweet or purple potatoes at a reasonable price for more nutrition/ lower GI.
Flour, sugar, salt and pepper, oil and butter are fantastic to have in your cupboards meaning that when the budget is tight you can make your own bread, cakes, pancakes, muffins or fritters for school lunchbox snacks or white sauces.
With these you can have them plain for school snacks or blend up some bliss balls, add to your oats for a tasty granola style breakfast.
You can get this in the dairy form or coconut milk and its a great way to stretch your resources until the next pay day. Powdered milk can be used in coffee and tea, mixed up for recipes and obviously has a much longer shelf life than fresh milk.
Herbs and spices
There are lots of cheaper brand herbs and spices but just be careful of what is actually in them such as added salt. You may have to use twice as much as a more expensive brand to get the taste and health benefits however overall it will work out cheaper than ready made sauces.
When it comes to buying meat you can look for cheap cuts and put them in the slow cooker for delicious meals. Find out when your local supermarket gets in their new stock and the night before pop in for slashed prices. Don't forget to also check out the clearance section as sometimes they mix up the locations. If you are within range of farms it can sometimes be cheaper buying direct from the farm in bulk. Half a cow might cost you $800 but feed you for the year. You can also try having a meat free night a week.
Frozen veggies still contain plenty of nutrition. They probably even have more than your "fresh" food in your local big chain supermarkets as they were frozen when picked rather than spending a few days on a truck and up to weeks on the supermarket shelving. Mixed bags of frozen veg give you a broader range of nutrition ( think about eating a rainbow of foods.)
If you still really want to buy veggies that are not frozen look for imperfect veggies that may have been marked down such as woolworth's "the odd bunch" fruit and veg.
Lastly make full use of the website www.supercook.com where you can input all the things you have in your cupboard/fridge and it fires out recipes you can create with what you have.