Feeding a family takes up enough mental space as it is, but trying to feed a family dinner each night that is healthy, ticks all the boxes nutritionally, and comes within a budget is close on miraculous. The organisation and creativity required to keep every belly full, on a budget, is immense. So lets take out some of the hard work. Here are 5 tried and true dinners for the health-conscious family on a budget.
Polenta packs a considerable punch in the nutritional arena, but isn’t too shabby on the gourmet stakes as well. There are a million ways to use it to make the family happy- I like polenta and ratatouille made from any leftover veggies in the veggie drawer- but it can be a perfect snack with nuts and herbs mixed through it. It also goes a long way- 1kg of polenta can last for weeks and provide countless meals.
Eating meat on a budget can be a tricky. How do you keep your family happy (and if they’re anything like mine, banana curry night after night is seen as a moral outrage) without having to spend huge amounts on meat? Especially if you happen to also be concerned about the provenance and treatment of the animals and meat in the production? Pork chops are are a nice cut of meat and a significantly reduced rate to other meats such as lamb and beef. They’re also incredibly easy to make into a delicious dinner- a honey and soy glaze, or good ol’ fashioned apple sauce are always popular. A stew is also always a great way to get all your veggie serves, with a bit of tasty meat into the bargain.
A Sunday roast can always seem a bit intimidating when you’re first setting up outside of home, especially price-wise. But if you can ditch the lamb, roast any and every veggie you have leftover in your fridge, and use chicken, then it can be quite the frugal meal. If you’re worried about tough, flavourless chicken, then quench those fears. Stuff the chicken with lemon, rosemary and whole garlic cloves, making small incisions into the skin and rubbing lemon and oil into these as well. Pop it in the oven and you have yourself a Domestic Goddess roast dinner.
Buying fruit and veg seasonally is a great way to stay on top of prices, and there are lots of guides online as to what you should be buying and what will be cheapest at the moment. Pumpkin, especially at the minute, is pulling some great prices and there are so many things you can do with it at an amazingly frugal price. Want something cheap to take to the party on the weekend? A sweet pumpkin pie will cost you less than $5 in ingredients and will garner you a whole lot of praise. If you’re eating at home, look at making your own pumpkin gnocchi. It’s lower GI than the store-bought equivalents, and is super easy to make. Top it off with a tiny bit of butter and sage picked from the garden and you’re onto a winner. It can also be used as a mash on top of a Shepard’s Pie. The opportunities really are endless.
Kids are always requesting burgers, but the costs (to our waistlines as well as our wallets) can sometimes make it a difficult request. If you’re looking for a healthy frugal meal, consider swapping meat patties for beans or lentils. Or try your hand at homemade felafels (one of the easiest things to put together in a hurry) and have felafel burgers instead. Using wholegrain buns and some fresh salad, it’s a satisfying meal for a wintery night.