About the Recipes

Every fortnight I aim to post 7 main meals, 2 desserts and 1 sweet treat such as a cake or slice for lunches that will combine to a total cost of approximately $120 per week. In addition to this budget,  I post a few recipes every fortnight from the following categories: Breakfast, Something Special, In Season, Kids in the Kitchen and Recipe Basics. That’s  up to 14 recipes and ideas every fortnight.

  • Costing the Recipes Recipes are categorised and tagged according to their main ingredients and also give a dollar value. These costs are not an exact science and rely heavily on several factors : A well stocked pantry with lots of useful items like herbs, spices, curry pastes and baking supplies and secondly: Using items that are free, such as fresh herbs and vegies I grow in my garden or those that are in season and therefore cheap. All costs are current at time of posting and do not reflect price variations in other parts of the country – and they can be significant variations.
  • I have labelled recipes with Day 1, Day 2, etc – this is to help those who want menu planning and budgeting for the week ahead. Of course, you don’t have to follow it exactly, it’s simply a guide.
  • Weights and Measures All oven temperatures are for a fan forced oven and are in celsius. Oven temperatures will vary and you must use your judgement when considering your own temperamental oven.  I have used, wherever possible, metric measurements. 1 cup = 250ml.  1 Tablespoon = 20ml.   1 Teaspoon = 5ml.  Wherever weights and cup measurements are given, I strongly recommend that you weigh ingredients rather than pour them into a cup. It makes for a more reliable result.

All care is taken to credit the author of the original recipe. If a friend gave it to me, I’ll tell you. If  it’s taken from a recipe book, celebrity chef, restaurant, or a blog, I’ll tell you.  If I inadvertently overlook to reference someone, I apologise, but please allow for the fact that sometimes the recipe has been handed around so much it’s very hard to trace to an original source.

The more I cook, the more I realise that there’s nothing really new under the sun, just different fads and new ways of presentation. The spirit of generosity, the love of sharing, and the conviviality that comes from eating a great meal is however, timeless.

If you would like to be part of this project and share your recipes with us, please let me know, I’d love your input. You will be credited as the author of the recipe and you will be sharing your food with a lot of people who are intent on feeding their family well.

Happy cooking and enjoy the meals!

Sandra

120dollarsfoodchallenge@gmail.com

33 thoughts on “About the Recipes”

  1. sandra

    i would love if you could help set up routine
    3 kid ranging from 14 13 10 2 adults

    average food bill $500.00 fortnight
    with going to super market every third day

    on today tonight you said you do a stocktake of your pantry etc

    can you please help

      1. I’m about 1 1/2 years late on replying to this, but, where did these menu plans show up on please? Thank you.

        Saw you again on Today Tonight last night and every time I see you, am ever so happy for you.

        Such a lovely lady. You deserve all the niceness in the world, Sandra.

        Big hugs, mate 🙂

    1. In regards to the stocktake query above, I did a fortnightly grid if you like on Excel which I listed “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, “Afternoon Tea”, “Dinner” and “Dessert” down the left side of the page. Then at the top I put Mon, Tues, Wed etc. for the fortnight. We then do a stocktake as well of our freezer, fridge and pantry items (as well as laundry stuff as I include this in our fortnightly shop) and try and base meals for dinners around the items we currently have in stock. Then we go onto the website I mentioned earlier (or this site would be brilliant) and select the remaining dinners we require on our menu and compile a shopping list for the ingredients not currently in the house. Any additional money we have spare after getting the essential ingredients on our list tends to go on school lunch extras (muesli bars; chippes; etc.) We also shopped around to find the cheapest suppliers of milk, eggs, etc. as sometimes the supermarkets charge more than fruit & vegie shops. Hope this helps 🙂

  2. hi i have 5 kids + 2 adolts 2 feed n if i can get a rowten going and a mile planing up and going id be verry happy so i hope you can help thak you so much jodie

  3. Hi there,

    After moving back to NZ from Sydney a year ago, we have felt the pinch grocery-wise as groceries (particularly meat) is a lot more expensive here than in Aussie. I used to spend $180 a fortnight in Aussie (on 2 Adults & 3 toddlers), here I have had to up it to $280 a fortnight.

    I think your website/ recipe ideas are smashing and something that is really helpful in today’s economy. So many recipe books these days from celebrity chefs call for so many ingredients which aren’t “normally” found in your pantry or even some supermarkets which can be extremely frustrating if you’re on a budget.

    One website we use a fair bit with our menu planning which is generally low in costs, minimal preparation & cooking times, and excellent results is http://www.foodinaminute.co.nz
    It is based on a 5 minute commercial (endorsed by Watties) shown daily on NZ TV. We use this a lot and would definitely recommend it.

    Thanks heaps for your ideas & suggestions… greatly appreciated! 🙂

      1. Thankyou Sandra,
        I have to admit to being a touch sceptical about this as we are a family of 7 and can’t imagine a grocery bill of $120. Taking into consideration the extra 2 servings we would need (2 little ones equal 1 standard meal between them) I can see us making some real savings with your hints and recipies. so well done!! love the site.

  4. We love the “Make it with Mince” category. Aside from the fact that they cook fast, they are also very versatile. We have tried the Albondigas and even the Empanadas. They are superb. By the way, we call it Almondigas in our area.

    Another category we enjoy is the Kids in the Kitchen recipes. We have a once a week cooking with the kids if my wife and I don’t have busy schedules.

    Henry Ione
    Daily Menus for Busy Families

  5. Congratulations Sandra,
    Just read about you in October Masterchef mag. Great story.
    I am inspired. Always looking for clever cost cutting ideas and recipes.
    Good luck with the book.
    Clever you!
    All the best.
    Karen

  6. Wow. I am impressed that my weekly budget is between $110-150. I am going to be impressed i f Ican get it below the $100 mark. This looks very interesting ( I only eat non-GM and local or organic if I can’t find local so that does push the price up a bit). I am also aiming to avoid supermarkets as much as possible.

  7. Your site looks great. I work night shift and my husband is looking for recipes that are nutritious for our daughters. Dinner is their only meal that would contain veg or fruit so we try to get that right. Will look forward to trying the recipes.

  8. I am looking forward to your book!

    I don’t know if Isaid it already or not, but your book should be given away when a family is given centrelink payments. Your book should be included in the enrolment process.

    If I find out who to talk to via centrelink I’m going to send them an email.

  9. Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for such a great site – I will be looking at a lot of recipes – am planningto make the butternut bikkies tomorrow with the kids.

    I have a great tortilla recipe which I got for the site simplesavings.com.au. This recipe makes 12 yummy tortillas without any of the preseratives or emulsifier muck you find in the commercial stuff and can be easily halves or doubled.

    3c plain flour, 1c warm water, 1/3c oil (I use olive) and 1 tsp salt. Make a dough and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic film and rest for 30 – 60 mins. Divide into 12 portions and roll each poition into a 20ch round (mine are never round) and dry-fry (ie NO oil) for about 1 – 2 mins on each side until brown. They may puff a little, jusr press down. I save time here and have two pans going at once. I eastimate the cost at about $1.50 for 12.

  10. There are lots of recipes, but no beverages. Who needs to buy iced teas when you can make your own! To save money and time, I make my own iced teas and iced coffees. I steep two tea bags in a pot. Let it steep for however strong I want it to be, let cool, pour in a pitcher, then place in fridge.

    Whenever I want a glass of something cold and refreshing, I”ve got my iced tea all ready! I don’t sweeten mine, but this can always be done at the time of steeping the tea bags when the water is still hot, or one can make liquid sugar. I also make my own iced coffee if the coffee that i”ve made in the morning hasn’t all been drunk. I just add milk, ice.

    Who needs to spend money on these expensive, sugar and preservative-packed drinks, when all you have is already at home in your pantry!

    1. Sandra, I forgot to add to my previous comment that maybe a new category can be added for drinks that the entire family can enjoy. Those found in supermarkets are full of sugars and preservatives. Maybe there are people out there that would like to share some good recipes in this area as well.

  11. Sandra, For me, main course = Carbs + Veg + Protein + Flavouring (NOT the 11th commandment, but most of the time!)

    For variety a week is pretty much as follows: Potato + V + P + F
    Noodles +V +P + F
    Pastry + .. ………..
    Bread + ……………
    Rice + ………………
    Cous Cous + ………
    Tortillas + …………

    When I see what protein is on special I decide what carb I’ll pair it with this week, same with vegies, same with flavouring. Cheapest boneless steak semi-frozen and cut with the bacon slicer (I phone in the morning & pre-order) gives you what seems to be MOUNTAINS of steak for steak sandwiches, stir fries etc (cut with scissors for ease & speed), Sausages/frankfurts/cheerios cooked and cut into coins looks like lots stirred through pasta, or as an ingredient in a baked potato topper, ends of ham or devon rolls (ask your friendly deli)finely diced add zip to noodle dishes, etc. Day old bread makes great bread cases for assorted leftover odds & ends, as well as lots of savoury eggy, custardy (powdered milk)dishes. Only in the Western world do we base the dish on the protein, in peasant cuisines all over the globe the emphasis is on economical carbs & vegies, with protein as a tasty ,minor, ingredient. Hope this gives some ideas to those who needed a framework to hang their menu on ! Looking forward to hearing lots of good ideas on this site !

  12. Hi
    Just came across your site. I am a single mum with one son and spend around 200 a fortnight on all out food and groceries. breakfast, lunch dinner and snacks, school food etc, as well as laundry items. I am gluten intolerant and my son is lactose intolerant and likes quite plain food so I am constantly making the same kinds of meals, spaghetti bol, lasagne, eggs on toast, sausages and chicken something rotate each fortnight.
    I look forward to trying out some of your recipes, If possible could you suggest which recipes are freezer friendly?

  13. What a brilliant website! Our family’s starting the challenge this week too. Great work and thanks for all the ideas!

  14. If you have the wonderful bonus of fruit, either grown by you or given to you by friends, or however you get it, if you want to put a bunch of it up into jams or jellies, pectic to make it can still be pretty darned expensive! Not to mention that even then you have to add SOME sugar even if you buy the kind that doesn’t reqire as much. There goes a lot of the natural flavour of your fruit AND you load all that sugar onto your toast every time you want some home made jam! IF you practice a bit with corn starch, which is extremely inexpensive, you can get a jam or jelly that is almost the same consistancy as the stuff made with that expensive pectin. Just start with smaller amounts of corn starch and work up amount wise. It’s easy to add more, impossible to take any out. Corn starch is pretty forgiving and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it! It CAN be fixed by adding more chopped fruit of course, in a pinch. Also if you save and freeze your apple cores and seeds and are willing to wash well and peel the very thin outside peel from some oranges before you eat them there is lots of pectin in those peels and cores! Just add some to your fruit as you are cooking it by putting it in some reusable, washable cheesecloth or thin muslin pieces and tying the top with clean, cotton string or butchers twine. Take it out when you are finished cooking the ‘jam’ before you add the corn starch. Add a touch of lemon juice and then cool the batch some so you have an idea how much it is going to gel without cornstarch then heat up the fruit again and add some corn starch that has been well stirred into about 1/3 cup of cold water of water a bit at a time. You will soon see it begin to thicken more. Gelled apple preserves with raisens and chopped walnuts on crumpets and a little orange peel as a gelling agent, in your little muslin bag is delicious, and you’ll find a lot of other combinations that will become new favourites too! Add a little ginger bark to peach jam in your little bag. Yummy! And, think of the sugar you aren’t putting into your systems! Even rhubarb, if you spread it out a bit and add it a little per batch to apple butter, or peach jam is marvelous and can need very little if any sugar! More work? OF COURSE it is! But look at what you are saving! The frightfully high cost of that pectin and the effect of a bunch more added sugar on your body! Plus, you can get older kids involved and have the appreciate more where their food comes from, even when it does have to come from the grocery shelves. There is a process all our food goes through to get there, and it it amazing how many people just dont realize what all is involved!

  15. Sandra, where are you.? Your recipes just stopped. Are you OK? Please let us know if you are ill or something. We have been with you through a lot and we miss you. We are concerned for your well being. Love to you and many blessings. Maree

  16. Hi Sandra,

    Can you imagine my surprise when I saw what weekly spending amounts you are able to live on. In my home is two adults and a 22month old who would be lucky if she would eat a whole bowl of food over a whole day, and our weekly food bill is $250 plus going out for more every second day!
    I do hope to encorporate your ideas into our lives and will let you know.
    Thanks
    Kim 🙂

  17. Hi Sandra,
    I just found your site whilst surfing the web and thought that it’s great! I too make an effort to keep food costs as low as feasible and thought I’d share one of my methods of doing just that. It’s offal. Many people cringe at the thought of eating the meats classed as offal, yet in other parts of the world thay are highly prized culinary items. Moreover, most offal is remarkably nutritious, often relatively low fat,
    and also very cheap.

    Really great meals can be made from items such as beef cheek, lamb’s hearts, pork hocks, oxtail, beef heart, ox tongue, livers, kidneys, tripe, chicken hearts and giblets – you just have to know 1.) how to prepare and cook these items, and 2.) be aware that the tastes and textures will (quite naturally) be different to the cuts of muscle meat you are probably more accustomed to. Of course not all offal will suit all tastes, but learning about offal provides the opportunity for greater variety in your meals as well as very substantial cost savings.

    Many offal items require preparation such as thorough rinsing or scrubbing with salt prior to being cooked, and some of the leaner offal items need to be cooked at low temperatures for longer times than normal to remain tender. Many of the skills in preparing and cooking offal are not commonly known and are rarely featured in TV cooking shows or readily available recipe books – but they can be easily found on the internet, and an enormous number of detailed offal recipes are listed on a great many websites. Frequently they are very old and traditional recipes handed down from former generations of knowledgeable and thrifty cooks.

    Beef heart makes a hearty stew (no pun intended) and I recently bought a little over a kilo of this lean meat for just under $4.00 at a time when some prime beef cuts are approaching $30.00 a kilo! That heart (with vegies added) made five delicious adult sized meals – which is extraordinarily good value in terms of today’s costs. And that’s just one example. Another was a series of kebabs I made for a barbecue for a few friends I invited home – the main meat ingredient was chicken hearts bought for $2.00 for a pack that had over a kilo and a half of them. Everybody agreed they tasted marvellous.

    Not all offal is quite that cheap – because some is associated with renowned dishes such as oxtail soup, pressed ox tongue for sandwiches and salads, lamb’s fry and onion or devilled kidneys for breakfast and so forth – so some of it commands a higher price, but it is still generally cheaper than most readily bought cuts of meat. Overall offal is very good value indeed, both from dietary and economic perspectives.
    Regards,
    Geoff

  18. I bought your cook book and I would love to make the apricot and coconut slice but the sifted icing mixture you don’t give the amounts of each to make this mixture. Is it 1:1 icing sugar to cornflour? thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Janet,

      In Australia, icing mixture can be purchased in all supermarkets already pre-made. In the US it is called confectioner’s sugar. If you can’t buy it, add 2 tsp cornflour to 1 cup pure icing sugar and sift them well before continuing with the recipe. Thanks and enjoy! x

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