How to fit healthy meals into your family’s budget

Want to make more healthy meals for your family? It’s absolutely possible to eat better food and stick to your budget. Follow our tips here to plan your meals and stay on budget, then check out our top-rated recipes at less than $2.50 per serve.
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As mums, we often play the role of household project manager, chauffeur, and even accountant. It’s a tough job at times, but someone’s gotta do it! Luckily, you don’t have to figure it all out alone…

In this article, we’ll go through some tips to help you manage your family’s budget, so you can enjoy more delicious, healthy meals without overspending each month.

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fit healthy meals into your family's budget

What’s a typical family grocery budget?

How much does the typical family budget for groceries, and how do you compare?

The average Australian family spends around $150 per week on groceries in 2021. The exact amount depends on where in Australia you live, how many children you have, and so on. But this figure should give you an idea about where you might sit, compared to the rest of the country.

It’s also useful to look at the average amount spent on restaurants and takeout, which sits at $44 per week for each Australian household in 2021. If you do a bit of basic maths, this means the average food budget for a typical Australian family is around $194/week.

How does your family compare? If you don’t already know what you spend on food each week, start tracking your grocery spending for the next few weeks. You might use one of these apps to see how much you spend on food:

Whatever your food budget (whether it’s more or less than the typical Australian family), there’s usually a way to cut back at least a little. And you can do it without resorting to cheap, processed foods. In fact, homemade, healthy meals are often more budget-friendly than takeout food. Here’s how…

How to save money on healthy meals

healthy meals using a weekly meal plan

Plan ahead

When you’ve got a plan, you can stick to your budget a lot more easily. You can choose healthy meals that include budget-friendly ingredients, and you can make sure you’re always ready with something to eat before you’re hungry.

This means you’re less likely to need to resort to takeout. You can download our favourite meal planning tools here, including our weekly planner and our grocery list planner.

Make a list

Part of planning your healthy meals will include making a list. Once you’ve planned out your menu above, you’ll need to list out the ingredients you need to make each recipe.

Then you can cross-check this list against what’s already in your cupboard, fridge, and freezer so you don’t double-up or waste something you’ve already got.

You can also utilise the shopping list function in the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge app.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Shopping when you’re hungry is dangerous for your budget… and your health! If you shop hungry, you’ll be much more likely to grab quick processed food, snacks, and give in to cravings.

So make sure you eat a proper healthy meal before you head to the shops or pack a healthy snack so you never shop hungry again.

Shop at farmers markets and discount stores

Sometimes the best place to get good, healthy food on a budget is your local farmers’ markets or roadside stall. Not only is the food fresher and straight from the farm, but it’s also often cheaper because there’s no middleman.

But you don’t have to head to the countryside or markets to get affordable ingredients to cook with. Even just switching your shopping from Coles and Woolworths to Aldi can mean you save $$$ each week.

Buy in season

Ever noticed that in one week, strawberries are $1 a punnet, then a month later, they’re $5 a punnet? It’s all about the seasons. If you pick fresh ingredients that are in season, you’ll keep your costs down… AND you’ll create healthier meals because all the ingredients you use are fresh and local.

Don’t over-buy

Do you ever find yourself buying too much food (or too much of the wrong food) and then you have to throw a lot of it out? You’re not the only one… in fact, one survey shows that 43% of Australians do this regularly! So stick to your list, make sure you don’t over-buy, and you’ll find you waste less and your budget stretches further.

Buy in bulk

This might seem to contradict the previous tip, but it’s still a valid way to save money on your shop. If you regularly use a lot of one ingredient, why not buy it in bulk? For example, if you plan to eat a lot of brown rice next month, grab it in the 1kg bag instead of the 500g bag so it works out cheaper, overall. Also if you plan to have multiple healthy meals that include the same meat like chicken or mince you can buy in bulk, portion it, and freeze it.

Reduce processed foods

When you plan healthy meals for your family, you’ll automatically reduce the amount of expense, unhealthy processed foods. That’s a budget win and a health win!

Serve smaller portions

When you start to be more mindful of what you eat, you’ll stop overloading your plate (and your family members’ plates). This means you won’t need to spend as much on ingredients and you won’t end up with as much waste at the end of each meal.

Make bulk and freeze

If you buy your ingredients in bulk, why not cook in bulk too, then freeze the extra meals? Not only will you save money on your ingredients, but you’ll save time (which is just as precious, right?). And here’s another related tip: if you buy a bunch of fresh ingredients but can’t quite get through them, see if you can freeze them for future recipes or weight loss smoothies!

Enjoy the leftovers

If one of your healthy meals isn’t freezer-friendly, you can probably at least pop it in the fridge overnight and eat it the next day. Eating leftovers can save you a lot of time and money. According to one study, you could save an average of $150/week just by doing leftovers instead of eating out once a week!

For more money-saving tips, check out our blog, 250 Money Saving Tips For Mums On A Budget.

Budget-friendly, healthy, and delicious

Yep – you really can have all three at once! The thing is, when you cook your own healthy meals from home, they’re going to be fresher, more delicious, and much more budget-friendly. Even your fussy family will love eating them!

And once you get into a new, healthier routine, you’ll find it doesn’t take that much time to cook healthy meals if you plan ahead of time. Especially once you’ve got a collection of healthy recipes to follow and support from fellow healthy mums to keep on going.

Some of our favourite healthy meals on a budget

Ready to start meal planning and prepping? Here are some of our community’s most loved healthy meals – all with a deliciously low cost per serve:

Get more budget-friendly recipes in our free recipe pack. Everything works out to be $2.50/serve or LESS!

Are you ready to save time and money on your health journey?

Our Budget Hub is your go to for budget-friendly tips, tricks and offers from The Healthy Mummy Budget Squad

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