A Hamilton mother feeds her busy family of four for $140 a week – and says you can too.
Kathrine Lynch has devised a budget-friendly menu of family classics such as roast chicken with gravy and vegetables, beef and vege stirfry, and homemade burgers with handcut chips. The total cost is $5 per person, per day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Her new challenge developed after she asked her Facebook followers what they spent each week to feed two adults and two school-aged children and the results averaged between $200 and $250.
She realised that she was consistently doing the same for $50 to $100 less.
Her weekly shop for the $140 menu included two packets of frozen vegetables; rump steak, casserole beef, beef mince, hoki fillets and shaved ham; 3 litres of milk, 500g of butter, 500g of edam cheese, 6 eggs; 1 kilo of rice, three loaves of bread and one packet of rolls; tinned tomatoes and tinned soup; fresh carrots, lettuce, broccoli cauliflower, onions, pumpkin, kiwifruit, pears and bananas.
Lynch shopped at her local Pak n' Save. The most expensive items were a twin pack of chicken for $13.99 and a 2.5kg bag of agria potatoes for $7.49. The cheapest was 89 cents for a packet of chicken gravy mix.
On the plan, breakfast consists of Weetbix or toast; lunch is a sandwich or roll filled with chicken or ham plus tomato, cheese and hardboiled egg, and one piece of fruit; and dinner is animal protein, vegetables and carbs.
Snacks include popcorn, carrot sticks and yoghurt. There are no desserts, alcohol or "treat" foods like gourmet cheese, olives, or chocolate.
Lynch says her family averages four servings of fruit and vegetables a day rather than the recommended five, but they eat more fresh produce in summer when it is cheaper.
A PE teacher before having children, Lynch saw kids coming to school with no lunch, or carrying a bottle of fizzy drink and a packet of chips. "I thought for what that cost I could give them food for a whole day," she said.
Lynch realised that while she can go to the supermarket, scan the specials and devise a nutritious meal plan, a lot of people don't have that skill.
"My main goal is to get people to the point where they can do that. There are a lot of people out there struggling with their budgets."
While the $140 menu is intentionally simple and geared towards people who don't have a pantry full of exotic spices and condiments, Lynch says it can be adapted to suit more adventurous palates.
She encourages shoppers to start by aiming to shave just $20 a week off their weekly shop. "That's $1000 a year, that's your Christmas sorted. It takes the stress out of it.
THE $140 SHOP
Weetbix 750g $4.49
Beef casserole meat $6.53
Beef rump steak $ 5.51
Pams frozen mixed veges (1kg) $2.20
Watties stirfry mix frozen $ 3.99
Value milk 3L $5
Twin chicken pack $ 13.99
Beef mince $8
Shaved ham $2.93
Anchor Country Soft butter (500g) $2.79
NZ hoki fillets $4.06
Maggi Onion Soup x2 $ 2.70
Maggi Beef Bourginon $1.39
Maggi Chicken Gravy $0.89
Teriyaki beef stirfry mix $2.05
Rolling Meadow Edam Cheese (500g) $4.99
Value popping corn (300g) $1.95
Huntley & Palmer Vitawheat Crackers $ 2.49
Value rice 1kg $1.79
Pams rice crackers seaweed x2 $2.58
Eggs x6 $1.99
Campbells chicken soup $1.79
Pams diced tomatoes $0.99
Fresh & Fruity yoghurt 1L $4.19
Pams agria potatoes 2.5kg $7.49
Gregs mixed herbs $1.99
Gold Max bread x3 $2.85
Carrots (1.175kg) $2.34
Bananas x12 $6.14
Cauliflower x1 $2.99
Lettuce iceberg $1.99
Onions x4 $1.33
Broccoli x1 $1.89
Tomatoes x2 $2.20
Pears x8 $ 5.38
Tip Top burger buns x8 $2.89
Long rolls x6 $ 2
Kiwifruit x 16 $ 5.92
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