We’re more budget aware than ever before and, with many of us tethered to our homes, we’re also spending more on groceries than ever before.
However, while elaborate recipes that lean heavily on specialty ingredients can really add up, you can save plenty of money by building your diet on the most cost-effective staples available.
So if you’re keen to cut back on your grocery spend, here are some of the cheapest foods per serve you can find at the supermarket, and how to use them effectively to tick both nutrition and budget boxes.
Rolled oats – 6c a serve
Not only are oats one of the most nutritious breakfast options you can find, but with a 750g packet of rolled oats costing as little as $1.40 or 6c per 30g serve, you would be hard-pushed to find a cheaper option.
Packed with low GI carbs, dietary fibre, B-group vitamins and a special type of fibre that has been shown to help keep cholesterol levels controlled, oats — especially when teamed with another cheap nutrient rich food, Greek yoghurt — are a breakfast match made in budget heaven.
Greek yoghurt – 40c a serve
While you can pay through the nose for flavoured and high protein yoghurt, when you revert back to basic Greek yoghurt you can pay as little as $4 for a whole kilo. This translates into 40g per 100g serve of calcium- and protein-rich yoghurt to add to breakfast cereal or a smoothie, or enjoy with fresh fruit as a nutritious and cost-effective snack.
Eggs – 40-50c a serve
The price of eggs can differ significantly depending on the type of farming used, but you can easily find eggs that cost as little as 40-50c per egg. Eggs are one of the most naturally nutritious foods you can find, offering more than 11 different vitamins and minerals per egg, along with high-quality protein.
They are also exceptionally filling and versatile, fitting into breakfast, lunch and dinner meals as well as a key ingredient for baking, meaning that you can use them up in several different meals and recipes each week.
Potatoes – 20-30c / serve
Not always in fashion thanks to their high-carb reputation, potatoes are a nutrient-rich whole food that are often underrated in terms of what they can offer us nutritionally.
There are many potato varieties and some are more expensive than others, but a large, 200g brushed potato that you can easily make into mash, homemade chips or enjoy whole, clocks in at just 20-30c per serve. With just 30-40g of carbs per serve, compared to 60-70g per cup of cooked rice or pasta, potatoes are a great source of energy-rich carbohydrates at a low-cost price point to include on your dinner plate.
Kidney beans – 25c / serve
There are many different legumes you can find in a can, but of all varieties that cost between 80c -$1.50 per 420g can kidney beans are particularly useful as you can make an entire meal based on them. Whether you use them as a base to chilli con carne, or blend them up as soup based, when teamed with loads of veges, kidney beans are nutritious and extremely filling and offer a rich flavour to compliment a range of Mexican recipes.
Tinned tuna – 75c / serve
There are many varieties of tinned fish that are extremely cost effective including herrings and mackerel which can cost as little as 60c per serve but if stick to more common varieties of fish, tinned tuna can cost as little as 75c per serve when you buy it in larger sized tins. Extremely versatile, tuna can be incorporated into pasta dishes, pies and salads and is a rich source of protein, making it a nutrient rich recipe base.
Frozen spinach – 25c per serve.
Seasonal fluctuations in vege prices mean that you can pay through the nose for fresh veges and even individual serves of frozen veges can be relatively pricey. One frozen vege option, chopped spinach routinely sells are a low price and is a vegetable that can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes. From breakfast smoothies to omelettes to pies, soups or as a simple side dish with your evening meal, spinach is a nutrient rich addition to many, many meals and at as little as $1 per 250g or 25c per serve, this vege is a no brainer to keep handy in your home freezer.
Tinned fruit – 35c per serve
Admittedly the cheaper varieties of tinned fruit which can sell for as little as $2.00 per 820g serve do generally contain added sugars, but they remain per serve much, much cheaper than fresh fruit, especially at the moment in which apples and oranges are selling for up to $6.00 per kilo.
Milk powder – 14c / serve
Not often considered as a nutritious food choice, milk power will retain similar nutritional properties to than of fresh milk for a fraction of the cost. There are a range of different powered milk options, ranging from $5-$15 per bag but for a general skin milk you can pay as little as $5 which equates to as many as 40, 250ml serves of milk or less than 14c per serve which is much, much cheaper than both fresh and long life milk.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.