An Aussie money blogger has created the ultimate system to feed her family of four while sticking to a weekly budget of just $42.
In her new book, $1.50 Dinners, Melbourne mum Penina Petersen reveals that she cooks an entire month’s worth of meals in one weekend, from one grocery shop.
Her experiment follows on from her previous book, Table Tucker, which contains a year’s worth of budget menu plans.
“Grocery prices are just crazy, and people are struggling,” Petersen told News.com.au.
“I get letters still, sad letters, saying, ‘I’m a pensioner, your book has really helped me. My wife is sick and I don’t know what groceries to buy.'"
“This is an extension of that, and over time I’ve been refining these systems to make people’s lives easier while also saving a hell of a lot of money, she said.
The book contains a full grocery list, from tinned tomatoes and beef mince to chicken noodles, totalling $168 for a month's worth of food. This works out to $6 a meal to feed a family of four.
Petersen spent weeks shopping around to find the best prices, finding one supermarket chain in particular had the best value for money.
“I’ve tried online shopping with Coles and Woolies, Aldi, the local greengrocer. Aldi won,” she admits. "This system is the most cost effective."
Peterson also adds that her 11 and six-year-old children love the variation of “budget gourmet” recipes in the book, which include the likes of pesto pasta, pea and ham soup and chili con carne.
“They love every meal I’ve cooked,” she says.
But when working to one monthly shop, Peterson does warn that it can mean more time spent in the kitchen.
“You spend a whole Saturday, and you pretty much cook five bulk meals for the month,” she explains. “It’s 28 meals in total, but eight of those are fresh you cook on the night.”
Petersen believes preparation is key to help take away weeknight stress and eliminate the temptation to buy expensive takeaway.
And while she admits that this style of eating plan “isn’t for everyone,” the frugal habits she has adopted have helped her family go from $50,00 in debt to owning their own home.
“Once you’ve used the system once, it actually trains you to put your blinkers on, rein in spending, stick to a list and be conscious of how easy it is to overspend,” she advises.
This article originally appeared on New Idea.