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November 20, 2023

The budget-friendly foods a dietitian buys each week

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 10:11 pm

If you are the family member who routinely does the grocery shopping, you know just how big the total is coming to lately, since literally every single grocery item has increased in price.

For the household budget, it takes a huge hit, and requires significant meal planning and scanning of the weekly specials to help save as much as you can – without compromising the family’s nutritional intake.

While fresh foods, including vegetables and lean meat, are relatively pricey, there are a handful of meal staples that remain cost-effective options, as either a quick and easy meal, or a base of a healthy meal that can create a family-friendly meal for $20 or less.

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Fried dumplings gyoza with soy sauce, and chopsticks, top view.

Here are the supermarket foods I routinely stock up with each week. The good news is that it is not just soup and lentils.


Team dumplings with frozen edamame and green veggies for a quick and easy family meal. When you can find large bags that cost as little as 25c per dumpling, it means you can feed a family of four for less than $20.

This is at least half of what it would cost to pick up the equivalent amount of take-away food, and steamed dumplings are low in fat and calories.

Just don’t forget to add in the extra greens to balance out this meal, and go easy on the soy sauce, which adds truckloads of salt to any Asian meal.


If you consider the cost of making a lasagne from scratch, you would be looking at $20 at least, if not closer to $30, without even considering the time it takes to make it.

In supermarkets, there are a handful of premade lasagnes that contain a decent amount of meat (>20 per cent), including the Coles Own Brand Lasagne tray.

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Italian lasagne casserole is in the oven.

And at a cost of as little as $14 for 1kg, it’s a budget-friendly and time-efficient meal for families, and one that will also offer extra serves of leftovers for lunch. 

Lean mince

It does not matter if you opt for turkey, lean pork, chicken or lean beef mince, for as little as $6 per 500g you can create a delicious meal base to serve at least four people.

If you then add extra veggies (think grated carrot, zucchini, mushrooms) as well as lentils or kidney beans, you could have a spaghetti bolognese base, Chow Mein, or San Choy Bow dinner for far less than $20.

Plus, lean cuts of mince are rich sources of protein, zinc and iron.

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Canned fish

Fresh seafood of any kind is a good option nutritionally and a food Aussies need to eat a lot more of in general.

But when the budget does not stretch that far, don’t discount canned seafood such as tuna or salmon as a nutrient and protein-rich meal base for pasta dishes, bakes, fritters and pies.

piece of canned tuna in olive oil just for eating

With a large 720g can of tuna or salmon costing under $10, you can create a family-friendly, Omega3-rich meal that is quick, easy and budget-friendly.

BBQ chicken

The cost of a supermarket chicken has increased in recent years but with a cooked chook costing $12-$14, it’s still a cheap option.

You can add a salad bag, some potatoes or sweet potato chips, or some frozen vegetables and create a tasty, nutritionally balanced meal that the whole family likes for just $20.

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Homemade Lemon and Herb Whole Chicken on a Cutting Board

While the skin on the chicken does add some fat, in general, BBQ chicken is a good option nutritionally and you may even have some leftovers to use on sandwiches the next day.

Or, if you have a little more time, you can find frozen whole chickens for less than $10, and then cook it yourself with vegetables for a tasty homemade roast – again for less than $20. 


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