Budget week – 10 tips on how to reduce your food costs

Budget week

Budget week

So every now and then, I get sick of spending so much money on food. Sometimes I spend a ridiculous amount of our money on ingredients at the supermarket because well, cooking, it’s my passion (even though I hate that word in that context). But it is. So sometimes, after seeing all the Woollies and Coles entries on our bank statement I decide that it is time to pull in the purse strings and have a good ol’ budget week!


I’ve been instagramming some of our budget week pics, but I thought I’d write a bit of a post about ways you can keep your food budget under check! These are my tried and true tips, but I’m SURE you all have your own that you can tell me too, so comment below if you have some!

 So here are my top 10 tips for saving money on food (plus one bonus cheeky tip)…

Curried sausage casserole with brown rice

Curried sausage casserole with brown rice

  1. PLAN, plan and plan again. It’s so important to plan your meals before you go to the shops. Write yourself a list and stick to the list. I use to be rubbish at that and would pick anything and everything I saw, as well as the list. Not recommended, trust me.
  2. Shop without your kids. When I shop with the girls, I speed through, trying to get it done with all three of us alive and avoiding tantrums so I buy way more than I need because I’m not concentrating, or I forget the things I need so on top of an already over budget shop, I have to buy more. Most supermarkets these days are open late night every weeknight so it’s easy to go after the kids are in bed. And I tell you this for free, it’s damn right peaceful in the shops at night. Sometimes I like to just wander the aisles aimlessly because I am kid free! If you can’t get out alone, try the next tip….
  3. Shop online! I’m terrible at estimating my budget as I shop. Sometimes I think it’s a big shop and it’s not, sometimes I think it’s a small shop and I’m that person at the checkout with their jaw on the floor thinking, did I really spend THAT much. One of the best ways for me to stick to a budget has been to shop online. I can add everything to my trolley that I need and if it goes over budget I can easily sit back and decide which items I need to take out. Rather than feeling like a scab at the checkout getting the operator to take things off or trying to decide in a hurry because Miss 2 is pushing Miss 4 who is screaming blue murder.
  4. Shop in season. Fruit and veg are cheaper when they are in season. It’s hard to work out what is in season these days because you can access almost every fruit and vegetable ALL the time, but if you go around the fruit and veg section choosing what’s cheapest, you are probably eating within the season.
  5. Buy home brand. I KNOW, I get it, it’s not ethical, it’s not local, it robs farmers. But when I am trying to budget conscious, that is one ideal that I have to give up. It makes a HUGE difference to the price tag at the end of my shopping.
  6. Have some cheap, really basic meals on your menu. I’m thinking like: toast and baked beans, eggs on toast, egg in a hole, that sort of thing. I used to HATE doing this. I felt like I was making boring food for the kids and that husband would think that I was being lazy. Turns out none of them care! The girls love egg-in-a-hole nights or baked beans and husband loves the fact that there’s less to clean up after dinner. And I’m less stressed when I know that meal prep is going to be really
  7. Look at the portions you are providing. I am a typical European girl who loves to over-cater when it comes to food so I would cook up massive meals and portions. Which was a waste of money, because all it did was make husband and I gain weight, and the girls serves get wasted. So we have cut portions down. Meat especially and it really does make a difference in how much we spend.
  8. Grow your own. Simple as that. Start a veggie garden, grow some fruit trees. Get some chooks. You will supplement your shop with fresh delicious foods that you don’t have to buy. Save your seed to eliminate the need to buy seeds or seedlings the next year. I really REALLY love gardening which you will know, so I wont bang on about it too much but it is seriously cool.
  9. Save fancy meals for once or twice a week. This is my HARDEST. I love cooking, and I love cooking new recipes I see. I seriously don’t think I will ever get to the point where I have tried all of the recipes I want to. But in terms of cost of ingredients, basic meals are usually the cheapest. So I hold off my urges until the weekend and make fancy meals with fancy ingredients then.
  10. Buy things in bulk. I buy nuts, grains and seeds at a bulk shop and it works out MUCH cheaper in the long run than buying small bags at the super market.
  11. This is the bonus tip, eat at someone else’s house!! When I decided to do my budget week, I had 7 meals planned out and shopped for (online of course). I then realised that I had not factored in 2 family birthdays where we would be eating at someone else’s house, and then we also had a last minute family dinner at my mother in laws too so that knocked 3 meals off my plan for this week. That’s my bonus because those weeks will become meals for next week that I don’t have to buy. Obviously I’m not condoning you to turning up at peoples house uninvited for eating, but as a young family, accepting invitations from parents and parents-in-law for dinner is GREAT!.
Zucchini slice

Zucchini slice

So there are SOME of my tips for keeping your shopping budget tight. But I want to hear yours. Comment below your tried and tested budgeting tips…


Bye for now,


The Dietitian Mummy





Good ol’ Paleo Pete

So it seems that there has been somewhat of a “social media frenzy” and a bit of an “adult b*&ch fight” going on between the ol’ Paleo Pete and the DAA (Dietitian’s Association of Australia). Everyone seems to be getting in on it and having their two cents worth, so I thought I may as well get on the band wagon and blog about the “situation”.


Now I have always liked Pete Evens. He’s a good chef, he cares about health and he has the best facial expressions on MKR when he tastes something you know is shit. I like to pretend I know what he is saying from the look in his eyes when he is tasting the contestant’s food, something along the lines of “why the f#ck did you make me put that in my mouth”, or “if I could kill you with my eyes for that ridiculous excuse for a ‘meal’ I would”. I did however like him a bit better when he had more meat on his bones because over the last season I started to get a bit worried about him, as he visually got skinnier and skinner (George Calombaris, I’m worrying about you too buddy). I hoped it wasn’t something serious like cancer, but turns out it was just Paleo.


The Paleo diet has actually been on my radar as a dietitian for much longer than it’s been popular on facebook and the main concepts manifest themselves over and over in different forms of diets all the time. And I don’t have a vendetta against Paleo itself, just diets in general. But here’s the thing, there are a lot of concepts of the Pete Evans version of the Paleo diet that I 100% agree with, less processed foods (my ongoing quest), less sugar (although none is a bit boring don’t you think?), more vegetables (hurrah!), ethically sourced free range meat, fish and eggs (yes, yes, yes) and smaller portions of meat (I have been banging on about this for a while). And while I’m not hugely keen on taking out food groups like grains and dairy (me and dairy struggle big time but mostly because I don’t hanker for cold liquids), seriously if you make an effort to replace the nutrients that usually come from those food groups then who really cares right?


If you really are motivated to follow a certain diet and are willing to make a good effort to reach the nutrient levels you need then there’s no need to slam anyone for wanting to do so. I was going to look into the nutrients you may lose and the foods you could replace them with but it’s here anyway so if you are following Paleo, then please do it right (don’t just eliminate foods, substitute instead and cover your nutrients). Just like I would suggest for vegetarians, clean eaters, atkins, zone, etc etc etc. At the end of the day, there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are a million different ways to eat to get the nutrients you need and no one way is better than another.


I do however have a bit of an internal snigger when anyone labels certain foods as “toxic” because well really toxic means poison and clearly people aren’t dropping on the spot after having these foods. And really, I have NOT done the research on most of the claims he is making (others have and have rebutted his claims) because basically my care factor is zero. It’s about level with my care factor for researching every other person talking about nutrition’s claims. I think everyone is missing the point. Food is there to be loved, not hated on. It’s there to be enjoyed, not restricted by a strict set of rules. It’s our culture, and part of all of our lives so let’s just keep it varied, and realistic.  Eat a bit of everything, fill most of your eating with foods that give you nutrients and don’t make you sick and Just. Enjoy. Yourself. And if you do feel like you want to do something about your eating, look at your behaviours, I can guarantee it’s going to give you more bang for your buck. If it was as easy as just following a diet, no-one would have weight issues!


I love carbs, bread and dairy so I would never be able to give them up completely. Nor would I ever be able to be restrictive with my eating, I’m just not that type of person. I love food, all food. I don’t discriminate. The fact of the matter is that even though the Paleo diet is a wee bit sensationalised, and Pete Evans now reminds me of one of those crazy evangelists, he will probably get the general public thinking more about what they put in their mouths, and increase vegetable consumption more than most government programs have managed to achieve, because he is popular. We live in a world where popularity rules.


So the moral of my story is….

Eat what makes YOU feel good. Follow who you want to follow. Don’t cut out food groups without replacing the nutrients with something else. And be kind to each other, stop the facebook slander and work together because surely health for all is what’s important?


Happy Sunday peeps,


The Dietitian Mummy

Cut your own chickens

Before you go any further there is a warning on this post. If you are vegetarian and inadvertently clicked on this post not reading the title, you may find this post a wee bit confronting. To avoid having abuse directed towards me, please close the window now as this is about to get messy.

My two little birdies about to go under the knife

My two little birdies about to go under the knife

When it comes to food, I tend to have a few goals for deciding on the food that this family eats. Apart from the obvious goals (tasty and nutritious most of the time) I try to be more aware of our food, less wasteful, less processed and lately because we are saving madly, cheap. Well it just so happens that butchering chickens myself tends to tick these goals.

I find that cutting up my own chicken helps me to respect the chicken that died for our meal that little bit more. I think it helps  seeing just how much waste there really is when animals are cut up motivates me more to use every little bit of the animal so I make sure I am doing it justice. I know, sounds totally ridiculous because I am eating it anyway, however if I can make a chicken last for as many meals as possible I feel like it was worth it (and yes I know, it’s never worth it but you know what I mean).


It’s also insanely cheaper! We have a local butcher who regularly has twin pack of chickens for $7.99. While I’m aware that it is not likely that they are ethically produced if they can sell for that price, it ticks my money saving box and supports our local chicken producers rather than big business ones. So I can get at least 4 meals from one chicken so I’m looking at about $1 a meal for the meat portion (and that’s not to mention chicken stock I make with the bones too) which definitely floats my boat!

I first thought about doing my own chicken stock when reading my Marion Grasby cookbook but it wasn’t until I got Save with Jamie that I started cutting up my own chickens and seeing the wastage of the carcass (uurrgghhh I hate that word). So Jamie has the best guide about how to do this, and would heavily recommend the cookbook but here are my very brief tips on how to cut up your own chicken and get in touch with your food.

1. First you want to get your bird breast side up, on a chicken board with a very sharp knife.

2. Grab your bird’s legs and use the tip of your knife to cut open the skin to allow you to pull the leg away. Actually break the joint of the leg until the leg joint pops out (yup it feels as brutal as it sounds) and then put your knife as close between the two bones and chop down. Repeat on the other side.


3. Grab a wing and do the same kind of movement but the joint wont actually pop out. Put your knife where you think the middle of the joint is and have a go. If it is really too hard to cut then try with your knife a little higher into the bird. Repeat on the other side.

4. You are now left with a bit of a funny looking bird with just big ol’ breasts facing up at you. Most times I will take the skin off, which makes finding the place to cut much easier. Theres a bit of bone and cartilage that splits the breasts and you want to slice as close to that on one side from tail to tip (for want of better words). Then start using your knife to kind of shave down as close to the bones as possible to get the fat part of the breast off. Once the fat part is clear, turn your knife and work away from you to shave off the end. When you get to the tail end stick the tip of your knife in and cut away from you to kid of flick it off (trust me it will make sense after practice). Do the same with the other side and expect it to feel a bit awkward (be careful of slipping and losing fingers).


5. Then you are left with the bones (ahem carcass). I usually have a fair bit of wastage in terms of meat I didn’t cut off properly. I’m not too concerned because I’m using this to make stock and will sometimes lift out the bird once the stock has been going for about an hour and pull off any good meat to use in soup.

6. If you want you can cut the legs into thighs and drumsticks. Just cut between the joints. These portions are just perfect for my HFC so hit it up!


7. Bag up your bird and wash your hands, board and knife thoroughly. No-one wants chicken poisoning, trust me I’ve seen my sister have it!!


As with everything, it takes a bit of practice to get it right. I find that the more I do it, the cleaner my portions are and I’m quicker at it. I can cut up a chicken in the time it takes the oil for my stock to warm up now.

So have a go, I’m going to go out on a limb and sound like a complete loony but it can actually be quite fun!


Stay tuned for my homemade chicken stock recipe which I use my chicken bones in.


Happy cooking,


The Dietitian Mummy


Diets don’t work y’all!

Whos sick of diets? Because I am. Sick to death of them I tell you. Sick of seeing them, sick of hearing about them, SICK of cleaning up after them!

By the time most people come to me for weight loss they have tried a few (or a hundred) diets and come in feeling shitty about their weight, shitty about food and the most shitty about themselves.

I hate diets, I really do and I hope you want to know why because I am going to tell you 😉

Number 1. Weight loss is not one size fits all!
Every SINGLE one of us are different. Our lives, our culture and our family situations. So why on EARTH would one diet fit everyone? If weight loss was one size fits all there would only be 1 diet, not a multi-million dollar industry designed to make money for the companies! If a diet doesn’t work, it’s not you, its the diet.

Number 2. Diets tell us that we are failures.
Not only do they not fit everyone but when we don’t lose weight on them, we are told that we are bad people, we dont have enough will-power and are not good enough. Maybe we should try another diet we are told. I’m sorry but this is bullshit. Diets fail because they are stupid, not the other way around. If you don’t lose weight on a diet it’s likely that it was because the diet didn’t suit your lifestyle or that it was a crazy fad diet OR more importantly because of the all important diet cycle.

And finally Number 3. Diets are desinged to keep you on diets.
People who design diets are clever. They know their way around the diet cycle. They know that if you try one diet, you are likely to try another, and another and this is fuelled by the cycle. Let me explain….

You start the diet cycle by going on a diet. You start well and lose some weight.

Because you restrict your kilojoules/calories your body lowers its metabolic rate (your metabolism) so your body burns less kilojoules than it did before you started the diet.

Your brain kicks in and starts telling your body to store fat because it thinks you are in a famine and need to stock up for survival.

Somewhere down the track you run into some troubles (like a really bad week or a weight loss plateau) and you start feeling the urge to eat crappy food.

You break your diet, eat about a kilo of chocolate and start telling yourself “I’m not good enough” “I’m a failure” “I may as well give up now”.

You give up and put weight back on.

Because of your lowered metabolic rate you put on more weight than you lost and end up heavier than you were before you started.

You start thinking, I need to go on a diet……. and the cycle starts again.

Who does that sound familiar too?? Probably many of you.

But what if there was another way? What if you could gradually lose weight in a supportive and non-diet way? What if you learnt good habits as you went along and felt better about yourself the further along you went. And what if The Dietitian Mummy was about to add in a shameless plug for a new way to do this?

I have been working hard on a weight loss program for busy mums out there that does not involve diets in any way shape or form. It involves learning about why you put on weight in the first place and gives you challenges that help you break these habits for good. It will also involve entry to a closed facebook group where you can ask me questions and also talk to other mums doing the challenges too.

So stay tuned for more information. It’s coming soon…..


The Dietitian Mummy.

My man Jamie at it again…

Hi lovely ladies out there (or men if there are any reading?!),


Well I am at the national Dietitian Association of Australia conference in Brisbane this week (eek longest I’ve EVER been away from my girls) and I’m very excited to be here, however the one downer of it is that I won’t be home for Jamie’s Food Revolution Day tomorrow!
Why is this such a big deal you ask?


Well this year, Jamie’s focus is on teaching kids to cook
and for those who have read my first few posts, you will know just how much I am on that band wagon. I would have loved to have done some cooking with the girls to post up this week but frankly, preparing for leaving the household for half a week has taken up all of my time.


The best part, licking the beaters

The best part, licking the beaters

Any hoo, just thought I’d post today to say, yet again, just how important it is to get your kids cooking. I can’t tell you how many times I see people later in life who have big health troubles and their biggest hurdle is that they were never taught to cook food for themselves from scratch. Convenience foods in the shops are convenient yes, but can be filled with fat and sugar to make their product the best tasting and therefore, most frequently bought. Add into the equation that you are probably buying convenience foods because you don’t have time to exercise and you have a hard barrier to push through.


Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if our kids grew up knowing how to put a healthy and nutrition meal from scratch on the table quicker than it takes to go to the shops, buy some convenience foods and bring it home to heat up, or “prepare”.


So get involved!! If you are home with your kids on Friday (or even this weekend), get in the kitchen, or watch Jamie’s live feed cooking class, check out what activities are happening in your area, download the resources to look at with your kids or just talk to your kids about cooking, what ingredients are in the food you eat or about food that contains nutrients not additive numbers!!


Get into it mums, its hands down one of the best lessons you will teach your kids.

Bring Jamie Oliver to meeeeeeee oh wait I mean to Noarlunga

jamie_olivers_ministry_of_foodSo as you probably already know if you follow me on Instagram or have followed me personally I am a HUGE Jamie Oliver fan. Jamie is the epitomy of real food, realistic health and amazing cooking. It is probably him I have to thank for our move to eating more real food and my passion for getting people to cook, and more importantly teaching kids to cook! He has his finger in every possible ‘improving health’ pie and has crusaded for better food for kids in UK schools, better cooking skills in communities all over the world and goes about it in fun and exciting ways.

Now Jamie has gotten together with The Good Foundation (funded by the Good Guys) and started rolling out his Ministry of Food across Australia. If you have never heard of it then here’s a quote from the website “Jamie’s Ministry of Food aims to educate, empower and inspire people to love and enjoy good food, learning how to cook, understanding where it comes from and recognising the power it can have on health, happiness and finances.”

This couldn’t be more true and anymore close to my values and experiences as a Dietitian.

There is a bid to get The Ministry of Food to come to the City of Onkaparinga (my local community) and I wholeheartedly support that bid. I CONTINUOUSLY see people who don’t know how to cook. Or know the basics but have lost inspiration for healthy food. Or can cook the basics but it’s based on unhealthy cooking methods and unhealthy foods.  And the health of the community is suffering. I see clients with diabetes and obesity multiple times a day and it’s largely because of a reliance on convenience and take away foods. This affects the hip pocket too.

 I know everyone says that it’s expensive to buy healthy food and yes, if you are trying to follow a gourmet recipe with super expensive ingredients it will be. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jamie is a huge advocate for food that ticks all the boxes, healthy, on a budget and most importantly YUM (because who wants to eat healthy food that tastes like cardboard??).  

Our community is disadvantaged. And a lot of the time that translates into poor cooking skills. Whether because of lack of budget, lack of education or lack of teaching and interest, it doesn’t matter. Cooking skills are needed for young and old in this community and as I’ve said here before the government is not funding health promotion (which translates to cooking) programs at the moment. And if that hasn’t hit home here are some stats from the Onka website

“Nearly 40% of residents are overweight, 23% are classified as obese, that is nearly 1 in 5!, Residents are 1.8 times more likely to eat fast food when compared to the SA average”

So whether you are in the community of Onkaparinga or not, please support this bid. Our community needs it.

Sign this petition

Hashtag some photos #noarlunganeedsjamieoliver #noarlungafoodrevolution

Support your community!