It is not hard when shopping these days to go into the supermarket, buy a loaf of bread, some milk and a few vegetables and have little change out of $20. With so much of our food being imported here it can cost a lot to make tasty, nutritious meals. The Observer On Sunday wondered if the people at our supermarkets could make a nutritious, tasty meal for a family of four for under $15. Tanya Foster from Fosters Supermarket rose to the challenge, but she admits it was harder than she had initially thought it would be to come up with two recipes that were different from each other and to feed four people. But with some rearrangements to the recipes, she managed.
The recipes Tanya came up with were a whole roast chicken with sweet potato mash and frozen vegetables on the side, with cost coming to a precise $14.72, and chicken and cheese Quesadillas coming in slightly cheaper at $12.89 served with sour cream and salsa.
Tanya says, “When I did the chicken and cheese Quesadillas the first time it came out at $19, the sour cream and salsa tipped it over so then I went around the store and looked at the IGA brand and used one their products.” She adds that there is enough for four people in the meal but no room for leftovers. Tanya says that using store brands such as IGA is a good way to economise as they are a lot cheaper but the quality is still there.
With the roast chicken dish she also had to make a compromise to stay within budget as she would have liked to serve it with broccoli but that was coming in over budget so instead she used frozen peas. She says, “It was a good challenge and made me think about ways around using more expensive ingredients.” Tanya gives some other tips and ideas about how to economise on your shopping bills. She says when you are economising, preparation and planning is key, when you are shopping have a list of what you need and do not deviate from it. Before you go shopping have an idea in your mind about what each meal during the week is going to be. She understands it is hard to cook because people lead such busy lives nowadays, “When you are tired it is difficult to come in on an evening and start thinking of cooking from scratch.” She also thinks that people need ideas about what to cook as it is easy to get into a rut and not think of different ways of doing things.
She recommends making sure that you always have the staples in the cupboard, things like pasta, rice, flour and sugar, then a selection of herbs and spices and that will make dishes interesting. She is also a great fan of garlic as well as it always adds zest. She says, “Cooking with pasta and rice can make dishes go much further so for instance you can make a pasta sauce with lots of vegetables and a little bit of chicken.” She also recommends using a mixture of fresh and frozen vegetables, again the IGA brand of frozen vegetables tends to be more economical. The great thing about frozen vegetables is that they can be used when you need them, but do not sacrifice the fresh vegetables, just plan when you are going to use them and with what dishes. Economise on cooking too by cooking things together, for instance if you are roasting a chicken, roasting some vegetables at the same time cuts down on preparation time and electricity. Another tip is when preparing vegetables sometimes people trim off too much so be careful that you are not wasting vegetables. If you are cooking broccoli heads don’t discard the stalks they can be used in a soup. Similarly things like carrot tops can be boiled up to make stock that can be frozen then added to dishes or used to flavour soup.
Treats can also be home made if you always have sugar, flour and margarine or butter then just add dried fruit or chocolate chips and you can bake a batch of cookies that will go further and cost less that a bought brand.
Tanya says that you do need to shop around and compare prices and take advantage of specials and stock up when things are on offer. When cooking try to only prepare what you need so that there is no wastage. If you do have leftovers try and incorporate them in your next meal. You need to be imaginative with food if you are economising. If you can to prepare some of the ingredients the night before so that when you come in tired some of the work is already done or think of meals such as pasta dishes that are quick on nights when you are really tired.
Roast Chicken (Whole) with sweet potato mash and frozen vegetables on the side = $14.72
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. If you like you can salt the chicken, salting gives a crisp, flavourful skin (about 1 tablespoon). You can also use some herbs such as thyme to flavour skin.
Place the chicken in a roasting pan
and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. You can baste at regular intervals if you wish.
Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minute
The potato mash is done by simply steaming or boiling the sweet potatoes and mashing with salt or pepper and adding a knob of butter if desired.
Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas with salsa and sour cream = $12.89
Take one tortilla for each person place cheese on one side.
Spray a non-stick pan with a little oil and fry on both sides until the cheese melts.
Add the cooked and shredded chicken.
Flavour with a jar of prepared salsa and sour cream.