Tuesday, June 19 2012

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In today’s blog, Janine shares her tips for eating on a budget…

Eating on a budget usually leads people to eating unhealthy and unappetizing meals. However, there are many ways to save money without having to sacrifice health or flavor. I believe that every morsel we put in our mouths should be savored and enjoyed. It should also provide nourishment and an adequate amount of energy. As a university student living on a budget I have figured out some creative ways to eat that is kind to the taste buds, waistline and ones bank account.

Jazz It Up

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/anotherpintplease/

You could even grow your own

First, jazzing up any meal is easy with dried herbs and spices.

Fresh herbs are pricy and will usually end up going bad before you can use it all. This is because for most recipes you only need a tablespoon or two and the supermarket sells herbs as a large bunch. If you do buy fresh herbs here are some tips to get them to go further:

  • Roll them up in a paper towel and put in a ziplock bag, they’ll keep longer
  • You can also freeze herbs. Once thawed you can use them as you would fresh herbs. To freeze: pick off leaves and place flat in a zip lock freezer bag and lay flat in freezer.

Jarred garlic is also cheap, goes a long way. It also makes life easier in the kitchen.

Freeze It Up

Second, frozen fruits and veggies hold heaps of nutrition and dietary fiber and are cheaper than buying an abundance of fresh items each week.

Buy frozen fruit (berries and bananas) and add them to a smoothie. For the smoothie use natural, unsweetened yogurt. This will give it a thick and creamy consistency. Add a bit of honey for sweetness. You can also add natural peanut butter for some protein. It will also make the smoothie more filling.

Defrost frozen veggies and add to a stir-fry with meat.

Brown Rice

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/25904307@N08/Third, incorporate brown rice into your diet.Brown rice is extremely healthy and a 2 kilo bag only costs about $5 (you can use white rice however it has less fiber and less nutrients). It is also very versatile:

  • Fried rice (add meat or veggies)
  • Rice and beans (drizzle garlic infused olive oil and add chic peas and diced feta)
  • Simply add as a side to bulk up any meal


Fourth, incorporate eggs into your diet. They are also versatile (quiche, omelets, curried eggs, hard boiled eggs on crackers, toast or use to beef up a salad), and a great source of protein and healthy fat

Store Brands

Fifth, buy store brands. Often big brands will make store brands for the supermarket, and with certain items it doesn’t really make a difference (coconut milk, cream)

Buy in Bulk

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheeprus/Sixth, buy in bulk. If buying in bulk for just you is too much split certain items with friends. Find a wholesaler near you for expensive items like meats and dairy products

Evening Shop Anyone?

Seventh, go to the supermarket in the evening. Things are more likely to be on special, however remember there will be fewer options too. In this case buy less during each shop and go to the supermarket more frequently. Usually if you are buying a product on special you should eat it the next day or so, especially meats. This will also help you form over buying.

Eat Before You Browse

Eight go to the supermarket full! You are much more likely to buy junk food and spend more if you are shopping on an empty stomach.

Veg It Up

Nine, in meals with meat, half the amount of meat and add veggies. This will provide vitamins and nutrients as well as fiber to the meal while making the more expensive meat go further.

Super Foods

Ten, eat foods that pack a lot of calories and nutrition with just a small amount, this will keep you full off less food.

Try natural peanut butter or any other type of natural nut butter, great just on a spoon (in my family this is called a peanut butter lolly pop and yummy on toast or with an apple, banana or even celery.

Oats, Oats

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/drift-words/Eleven, Eat more oats! Oats are cheap and a good source of fiber and nutrients like zinc, selenium and magnesium. Make a sweet porridge with honey, cinnamon and grated apple, or make a savory bowl of hot oats with smoked bacon and tasty cheese (cook bacon first separately then add)

I realize I have not mentioned bread or pasta on this list. This is because even though it is cheap there is almost zero nutritional value from white bread and pasta. If you do buy bread and pasta try to make it whole grain.

Chill Recipe

Here is my recipe for Chili. It is cheap, easy to make and so darn tasty, if I may say so myself J

  • 500grams mince (cheap meat)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 pinch of dried red pepper flakes (rub in hand first to release flavor)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Oregano
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained but not washed)
  • Shredded tasty cheese to garnish (optional)
  • Sour cream to garnish, Greek yogurt works too (optional)


  1. Sauté mince in a large skillet with about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Break up into small pieces with wooden spoon and let brown
  3. Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes
  4. When onion is soft then add the canned tomatoes and beef broth
  5. Let simmer about 5 minutes while liquid absorbs and sauce thickens
  6. Add oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper and vinegar.
  7. Simmer and taste, add more of any spice if you think it needs it (I am heavy handed with the cumin but it is up to you)
  8. Add Kidney beans
  9. Salt and pepper to taste

10. If you like you can top your chili with cheese and sour cream

If you have any questions about this recipe or cooking on a budget feel free to leave a comment.


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