For many families, the pressure on the household budget is felt above all at the supermarket checkout.
With the rising price of meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, the temptation is always there to turn to fast food as a cheaper and more convenient option.
Australia’s most trusted voice in nutrition advice, Rosemary Stanton, says there are plenty of options for creating a healthy meal for less than the cost of a takeaway.
Jorja McDonnell sat down with Dr Stanton from her home in Kangaroo Valley on the NSW south coast, to find out her top tips for thrifty people and what you can do from less expensive staples. Dear.
1. Teamwork makes for dream work
If only one person in the household cooks dinner seven nights a week, exhaustion will often cause that person to head to the drive-thru.
Dr Stanton said everyone in the household should share the kitchen.
She said planning meals and cooking healthy foods is an important life lesson for younger family members.
“We need to teach our kids to cook from an early age, and we need to trust them to make a few mistakes,” Dr. Stanton said.
When it comes to reducing expensive packaged and processed foods in school lunch boxes, she suggests teaming up with other parents.
“Get together with the parents of your children’s friends and agree that none of you put packaged food in lunch, maybe except on Fridays,” she said. declared.
“Go halfway and make it something you do once a week instead of every day. Then the kids can’t come home and say ‘I’m the only one who doesn’t have a barbell. of insanely expensive muesli or a packet of something.”
Making their own school lunches can also be another opportunity for children to get involved.
2. Opt for legumes, the nutritious all-in-one
High in fiber, protein and iron, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils are Dr. Stanton’s top grocery pick.
Whether you buy them dried or canned, they’re incredibly inexpensive and there are plenty of ways to use them.
Added to meals with lots of vegetables and a small portion of meat, they make for a perfectly balanced meal.
Dr. Stanton said that legumes are among the best foods for us, nutritionally.
“Lentils, chickpeas or any legumes are very good sources of iron,” she said.
“Most people get more than enough protein in Australia…the biggest concern we have in the diet is the lack of fibre.
“Not many people get enough fiber in their diet.
“I’m a really big fan of pulses because they’re so cheap.”
Another of Dr. Stanton’s picks is green peas – just a plain bag from the freezer.
“They’re good, they’re cheap, they’re available, and they’re one of the best sources of dietary fiber among vegetables.”
3. Meat doesn’t have to be the star.
Dr Stanton said many Australians eat far more meat than we need. For many home cooks, it’s the star of every dish, but it doesn’t have to be.
“Meat can be extended in many ways — you don’t need so much meat in pasta sauce, for example,” Dr. Stanton said.
“Add lentils or chickpeas to your cut of meat, and it goes much further. You don’t have to make meat the star of the plate.”
4. Health Champions Breakfast
“If you’re starting with breakfast, by far the cheapest option is house brand oatmeal,” Dr. Stanton said.
At around $1.40 for 750 grams, the affordable, filling and nutritious choice comes highly recommended by expert nutritionist.
Dr. Stanton said it was a much better choice than packaged cereal, both in price and sugar content.
“The junkier the cereal, the more sugar it will contain and the higher the price will be,” Dr. Stanton said.
“Most kids really like porridge, and it cooks very quickly – if you have a microwave, you can even make it in your bowl.”
5. The freezer is your best friend
Dr Stanton said there’s no need to scoff at frozen vegetables – in fact, they’re a fantastic resource in the kitchen.
They are generally less expensive and just as good, if not better, than fresh produce. After all, they are frozen almost immediately after being picked and chopped.
But the freezer is ideal for more than vegetables. Making extra meals and freezing them — when you have the time to cook and the money for a few extra staples — is a smart way to save, while eating healthy.
“If you buy something when it’s on special, you can get it from the freezer,” Dr. Stanton said.
“Cook double what you need, because you have to spend some time cooking anyway, and then all you have to do is take it out and eat it.”
If you’re not going to eat your dinner leftovers for lunch, freeze portions for an easy meal later. As a bonus, you will reduce food waste.
Just be sure to label and date everything in the freezer, so it’s not completely forgotten.
So why are fresh produce prices so high?
At the local supermarket, there are a multitude of reasons behind the rising prices of products. According to a Woolworths spokesperson, the main reason is rising wholesale prices for fresh food, particularly beef and lamb.
“We have adjusted some of our retail prices following wholesale price increases from our suppliers,” the spokesperson said.
A Coles spokesperson pointed to a range of influences for higher prices on fresh food.
“We understand that there are a number of factors driving inflation for all retailers, including rising raw material costs, rising energy prices, transportation costs, extreme weather events and the ongoing impacts of COVID.”
Meanwhile, an Aldi spokesperson added that supermarkets must always pay primary producers fairly for their products.
“We are seeing a number of cost increases in our supply chain. Even as prices for individual products increase, our commitment is to keep prices as low as possible for customers while maintaining fair agreements with our partners. suppliers.”