Feed the fam­ily on $20

The go-to foods when the money's run­ning low

Life & Style Weekend - - HOME - With Jody Allen

I HAVE been there my­self. I’ve got $20 left in the bank, a few days un­til pay day, and noth­ing left in the pantry. What the hell am I go­ing to feed my fam­ily?

Here are some ideas on some cheap eats to fill the tum­mies of hun­gry kids when money is short.

Pick and choose the items that your fam­ily likes to eat (if you bought them all of course it would add up to more than $20). But some staples are rel­a­tively cheap.

Pota­toes and sweet pota­toes: This is where I would steer clear of the big su­per­mar­kets that can charge up­wards of $5 a kilo for pota­toes. If you shop at a lo­cal gro­cer or mar­kets you can eas­ily pick up pota­toes for $1 a kilo.

Frozen veg­eta­bles: I’m a firm believer in buy­ing frozen veg­eta­bles if you have small chil­dren. Aldi has a good range of cheap frozen veg­eta­bles, and the generic brands from the su­per­mar­kets vary in taste – try a few to see which ones suit.

Canned toma­toes: If you have canned toma­toes in your pantry you al­ways have a meal. Whether you are mak­ing a bolog­naise sauce, a casse­role or a stew, canned toma­toes add great taste and bulk to ev­ery­thing you make. In fact, if you have the above three in­gre­di­ents you can make a very tasty meal that won’t cost a bomb.

Lentils: Be­fore you say “gross’’ and “my kids won’t eat them’’, I have sneaked them into sauces and never had a com­plaint – and I truly be­lieve I have the fussi­est eaters on the planet. Lentils make a great sub­sti­tute for mince in a lot of meals, and give a real nutty flavour to foods.

Rolled oats: Rolled oats have be­come a lot more ex­pen­sive in the last few years, but they are still a great fill­ing food for break­fast. Not only that, you can use rolled oats in your ris­soles or casseroles to bulk them up.

Mince: If cash is tight you can buy bulk 3 Star mince for only a few dol­lars a kilo­gram. It might have a bit more fat in it than the more ex­pen­sive stuff, but just cook it up and skim off the fat – easy!

Rice noo­dles: For only 89c you can pick up enough rice noo­dles to feed your fam­ily, es­pe­cially when mixed with some mixed veg­eta­bles and a tomato-based sauce.

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay At Home Mum: stay­ath­ome­mum.com.au

PHOTO: LOU O'BRIEN

Pantry staples such as pota­toes and sweet pota­toes are the ba­sis of cheap, bulky meals.

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