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by Gael Myers, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Reduce your food bills and avoid extra trips to the supermarket with our cheap and cheerful meal ideas using grocery staples. Most of what you already have in the pantry and fridge, with a few simple additions, will get you through for longer than you think!


A dozen eggs

Eggs are the ultimate ingredient for low-effort fare that somehow still manages to feel a bit fancy. A fluffy omelette filled with a sprinkle of cheese plus whatever veg you have on hand is satisfying and oh so quick to throw together. Eggs take a basic salad from humdrum to yum yum, or try our easy pea-sy take on the classic smashed avo that will satisfy your tastebuds (even if it won’t quite buy you a house). If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can’t beat our easy quiche, cheesy potato frittata or shakshuka.  

Oats + plain yoghurt

Oats and yoghurt

What a power couple. Oats are ridiculously affordable and are filling and delicious when made into porridge. Add a dollop of yoghurt and some chopped fruit for extra pizzaz. We love the warm hug of microwave oats in winter but when the warmer weather hits make the swap to bircher muesli for a cool start to your morning. You can also chuck in yoghurt and a few tablespoons of oats to smoothies to boost up the fibre and protein.

Tinned beans and lentils

Tinned beans and lentils

Beans and lentils are a great, affordable source of protein and alternative to meat that pulsate with value at just over $1 a can. Their budget-friendly credentials though are no match for their versatility. From salads to soups, burritos to burgers, dips to dahl, casseroles to curriesand stews to smoothies, legumes are the chameleon of the food world.

Wholemeal or grainy tortillas

Wholemeal or grainy tortillas

Tortillas are great for a quick mid-week dinner or mid-afternoon snack. Chuck some beans, cheese and tomato or whatever veg you’ve got on hand into a wrap and toast it to gooey perfection. Tortillas are also perfect for quick pizza bases or as an alternative to bread that lasts way longer if kept in the fridge.

Ready rice + flavoured tinned tuna

Ready rice and tinned tuna

It’s a bit more expensive than cooking your own, but when time is tight or your energy is flagging, microwave rice sachets are super convenient for a quick throw together meal. Pair rice with flavoured tinned tuna and whatever fresh or frozen veg you have available.

Pasta + tinned lentils + tinned tomatoes

Pasta lentils and tin tomatoes

Who doesn’t love a pasta dish that clears out your freezer and pantry and saves you a trip to the supermarket? Make up a big pot of our pantry pasta sauce with those lonely tins of tomato and lentils hiding in the back of the pantry. If you don’t have fresh carrot and zucchini in the fridge don’t be afraid to swap these out for frozen veg like corn and carrot. Pair your sauce with pasta (or microwave spuds, or rice, or tortillas, …) and a sprinkle of cheese for a yummo and budget-friendly family feed. I highly recommend making a double batch of this sauce and freezing up the leftovers in portions so you have something healthy and ready-to-go whenever you don’t have the energy to cook. Future you says thanks!

Tinned tuna + pasta

Tinned tuna and pasta

That humble can of tuna and packet of pasta sitting in your pantry are just waiting to be turned into a meal! Get more green into your day by adding in frozen green beans, squeeze in some freshness with a dash of lemon juice, and you’ve got yourself a healthy, flavourful pasta dinner that’s on the table in less than half an hour.

Frozen veg

Frozen vegetables in a bag

You can’t beat fresh veg for texture and taste, but frozen veg have the edge when it comes to convenience and cost. Frozen veg are pre-prepared which means less time in the kitchen, and their long shelf-life means they’re a great option if you frequently find yourself chucking out fresh veg that hasn’t quite made it onto the plate before going bad. Try our no fuss fried rice, creamy tuna pasta or tuna couscous recipes for an easy way to hero frozen veg.

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