Cheap Eats

Cheap Eats

For those times that you need to watch your pennies but still want to cook and eat good food…


Here is a summary of some of the tips discussed on Episode 3 of the Foodcentric podcast – CHEAP EATS – with Foodcentric‘s Food Director, Naomi Crisante and nutritionist Melanie Ryan, from Nourishness.

The cost of living continues to rise and affects families, couples, singles and students, but you can still eat well on a budget if you are resourceful and creative:

  • Make a menu plan and shopping list before you go shopping and stick to it. Buy only what you need.
  • Think about stretching the protein in a meal with filling grains, legumes, rice, pasta, barley, freekah or quinoa.
  • Choose less expensive sources of protein – cheaper cuts of chicken such as thigh fillets or chicken wings; tougher cuts of meat that require slow cooking but are very flavoursome; cheaper seafood like mussels or sardines.
  • Learn to cook with the seasons – buying what is in season, plentiful and therefore often cheap, and preserve or freeze for later.
  • Freeze citrus whole or in ice cube trays.
  • Freeze herbs or turn into pesto.
  • Buy in bulk and when things are on special.
  • Cook double and freeze a meal for later, or use it later in the week.
  • Mince is an inexpensive option, but look beyond beef, and try minced turkey, pork, lamb or chicken. Turn into meatballs, rissoles, kofte, polpette, shepherd’s pie…there is a mince solution in every cuisine.
  • Make your own stock with vegetable trimmings and roast chicken carcasses and freeze; use bones for flavour in simmer sauces.
  • Sad looking veggies in the vegetable drawer can be made into minestrone, integrated into bolognese sauce, a risotto, into meatballs/burgers or grated and mixed into a quick frittata for an easy meal.
  • Eggs are a great budget base for a quick meal – omelettes, frittata, crustless quiche, zucchini quiche
  • Buy a whole chook and learn to joint it – use carcass for stock or soup, pan fry fillets or turn into schnitzels, turn jointed pieces into casseroles or curries.
  • Freshen up a loaf of stale bread by splashing it with water and baking at for 10 minutes until the crust is crisp and the centre is soft.
  • Stale bread can also be used to make bruschetta, crostini, breadcrumbs, a crunchy topping for a casserole, garlic bread, bread and butter pudding or croutons for a caesar or panzanella salad.
  • Save roasting juices from pan juices and freeze in bags for later use – but make sure to label them!
  • Dried or canned beans, chickpeas and lentils and even frozen peas are great inexpensive sources of protein and extend a meal well, giving great texture to a dish.
  • Turn to pantry items like pasta, canned tomatoes and canned tuna to pull together simple quick meals.
  • Use herbs, spices and chilli add flavour boost to dishes.
  • Grow your own vegetables and herbs!
  • Become a home baker as it is much cheaper to produce your own pies, cakes, muffins and biscuits, and they taste so much better too!


P.S. Try this delicious chicken and lentil soup that is flavoured with Moroccan spices and finished with coriander oil 🙂

Recipe and Styling by Naomi Crisante, Photography by Louis Petruccelli.

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