Here at Parents Guide Illawarra, we know the struggle of nutritious meals on a budget. We picked the brains of our Wollongong Children’s Naturopath and Dietician, Lisa Moane from The Paediatric Naturopath.
Lisa is a feeding specialist. She works with every type of fussy eater, or children with neurological or sensory issues and is an amazing local source of wisdom.
Lisa’s top tips…
Putting good food on the table each night is fundamental to your children’s health, but the cost keeps going up and up. It’s either a drought, pandemic or flood, and all of these seem to push prices up!
Believe it or not, it can be cheaper to feed your children wholesome, healthy food than processed food. It just comes down to some careful planning.
Here are a few of my tried and tested tips for feeding the family economically.
- Meal Plan
Just how we all like to spend our Sundays…….
Ok, so nobody actually loves meal planning, but it’s a necessity.
Sit down once a week and decide what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week. Always check what is in the fridge and freezer first and make sure it gets used up as part of the meal plan.
Then write your list and go to the shops to fill the gaps between what you already have and what the recipes require.
Try to cook in bulk as much as you can, and freezer the leftovers. Many things are cheaper per kg the more you buy (think bulk packs of meat). This will make each meal cheaper, but also gives you a stash of prepared meals in the fridge or freezer, so you don’t resort to takeaway so easily.
2. Buy a chest freezer
If you have room in a laundry, shed or garage, a chest freezer can be a great investment.
This allows you to buy lots of things in bulk which can be 50% cheaper. You can buy great quality meat in bulk, as well as things like sourdough bread. A trip to the freezer section of Costco may be useful, but you need to be careful that you don’t end up buying a lot of stuff you don’t need.
I am not affiliated with any of these suppliers, but it will give you an idea of who to look at:
3. Get chickens
If like me you prefer to buy the organic free-range eggs, you can spend a small fortune on eggs each week. If you have the space, buying chickens can save you money in the long run, once you stump up for the coop. Bear in mind that in the Illawarra there is a significant fox problem, so make sure your coop is fox proof. Buying chicken food can get expensive, so save all your scraps and even ask neighbours to do share their scraps too.
We have this coop and it has kept the foxes out successfully:
4. Cook with dried legumes
We would all benefit from eating more legumes – they’re so good for your gut, feeding all the good bacteria in there. If you buy dried legumes in bulk from somewhere like Flame Tree in Thirroul or The Source in Wollongong, or Honest to Goodness and prepare them properly, you can make budget meals. Always soak the bigger legumes like beans for a while first and cook for a long time to make sure they are easily digested.
Here is one of my recipe ideas which uses lentils:
But there are heaps online. Look for dahl, lentil shepherds pie etc.
5. Grow your own
Setting up a big veggie garden can be an expensive exercise, and let’s face it, we don’t all have green thumbs. There are a few things you can grow with minimal investment. Herbs in pots are a great idea and make any meal a little bit fancy. In hardware stores you can buy kits to grow your own sprouts.
6. Cut back alcohol
I hate to be the party pooper, but buying and drinking alcohol more than a couple of times a week can cost a small fortune. Having most nights alcohol free and redirecting those funds to healthy food will benefit everyone in the family,
My website is full of healthy economical recipes – lots of bulk slow cooker style recipes.
For more info on Lisa can help your child, click here 🙂