Monday, August 18, 2014

Healthy Food on a Budget: How to shop smarter

This week I thought I'd take you along on my weekly shopping trip. As you know we have three GF people, one egg free person and all of us are on limited dairy (cheese but no milk). This week I spent $150 for the four of us, which gives me $50 left in my $200 weekly budget for incidentals as the week goes on.

The first place we're going to stop is my favourite fruit and vegetable store - Todarellos in Katoomba. This place is fantastic. It's family run and even though it's a 20 minute drive I more than make up for the trip with the great value they offer. Stopping for your fruit and vegetables first is something I really want to impress upon you. If you go to the supermarket first you're likely to overspend and not have enough left over for produce. Fruit and vegetables shouldn't be an afterthought! Always, always seek out good value fruit and vegetables as your first port of call. I try not to buy mine at a supermarket because the value is better from an independent store or a farmers market. This week I spent $55 and I bought everything you can see below. 

This worked out to be: 1kg potatoes, 1 bag mushrooms, 1kg carrots, 3 parsnip, 4 brown onions, 2 red onions, 1 cauliflower, 3 broccoli, 2 kumara (or sweet potato), 2 bunches bananas, 5 pink lady apples, 10 oranges, 3 punnets of strawberries, 1 large bunch silver beet, 1/2 celery, 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, 2 avocado, 1 garlic and 1 bunch rhubarb!

Then I went over to Aldi to buy some things for the pantry. Here we have GF muesli, organic muesli, 2 jars pasta sauce, 3 packets of brown rice crackers, 1 packet GF spaghetti, organic coffee, organic chocolate, coconut, fruit and nut mix, organic raisins, GF flour blend 2 x rice milk and a GF chocolate cake mix. As you can see there are no muesli bars, chips, or loads of lunch box fillers here. I try to keep the pantry section of my shop to two supermarket bags. It's a good way for me to remember that the bulk of our food should be fresh produce and protein not packaged goods.

Then the cold stuff. Two free range whole chickens, about $10 each. 1 Corned Silverside, about $6. 1 packet of bacon $8. 1 block of cheese, about $5, and free range eggs, again about $5. I also had a packet of beef mince and 500g of frozen hoki fillets in the freezer and those will be part of this week's menu plan. They're worth about $5 each.

I also have this piece of pork roast left over from Saturday night. Last week I spent $17 on a pork shoulder and it will do three meals (roast pork, pork ragu lasagne and pork and vegetable pie). Buying a large piece of meat and dividing it into three meals is a great way to save money and it's always nice to know that the meat portion of your meal is already cooked for you.

Now I want to show you my pantry before I put any shopping away. You can see clearly that I didn't set off for the shops without anything left in the pantry. A huge part of eating well for less is planning and buying things when they're cheap. There are some things in here that I will always have, even if I'm not planning on using them right away. 

Up the top there you have tins which I buy every other week. Beans are 75c a tin at Aldi and I stock up once a fortnight. I get some of everything they have for 75c! I also stock up on the 55c tins of tomatoes while I'm there. You can also see coconut oil and coconut butter, pure maple syrup, popcorn kernels and some specialty flours.

In the white bins I keep nuts and seeds, pasta, grains and flours. On the top shelf to the right I have rice paper sheets, white corn tortillas and some nori for sushi salads. On the bottom shelf I have jars for different flours - looking a bit empty now because I'm due for a trip to the food co-op. I have chia seeds, dried beans and lentils and steel cut oats in here as well.

Right down the bottom I have herbs and spices and oils and vinegars. I restock this as things run out.

This week I thought I'd show you how I use the ingredients I bought for this week's meals so you can really see how it's all going to work. I know $150 a week isn't much these days, but I promise you that you can eat really well on a small budget like mine. Stay tuned!

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