Wednesday 16 June 2021

Super Cheap 28 Day Menu Plan

 There's no doubt that meat prices have sky rocketed over the last couple of years.  It doesn't seem that long ago that Coles supermarkets ran a big advertising campaign highlighting their 1 kilo trays of beef mince for $5.  That same tray now costs $12.  Lamb prices have doubled now making it a luxury piece of meat.  Roast legs of lamb and roast beef are now off our menu and we can forget about steak.  Not that we had steak on a plate for a meal but now cooking a beef stew is too expensive.  I just can't justify paying close to $20 a kilo for the cheapest steak no matter how far I stretch it in a stew -  and yes,  I can stretch it far.

The main meats we have been eating are chicken drumsticks,  chicken fillets,  beef sausages,  frozen fish fillets,  tinned tuna and salmon and beef mince.  Last year when meat was hard to come by I did manage to buy one corned beef ( silverside ) and one tray of cheap steak.  Over the last 14 months I've rationed that steak out to make Massaman beef curry and beef stew.  I think I now have one 300 g piece of steak left in the freezer.  Unless beef prices drop I will not be buying steak in the foreseeable future.

So with all this in mind,  it's been a real challenge writing a menu plan with variety yet keeping to our $100 - $120 a month food budget.  This budget includes food and kitty litter for Princess ( our cat ) and food,  basic toiletries and cleaning ingredients for Darren and I.

I was blessed a few months ago with a large amount of TVP  ( textured vegetable protein ) for free from a friend.  When I first heard about it years ago I vowed I'd never use it.  But desperate times call for desperate measures and TVP has been a real blessing for stretching beef mince without really noticing a difference in texture.

Below is the latest menu plan I have been using.  Keep in mind it's just the two of us but I still cook for 4 - 6 people as per the recipe and freeze all leftovers.  It's very rare that leftovers are eaten as lunches.  They end up being dearer than a toasted sandwich and we don't need to eat meat twice a day.  

 From memory,  all recipes for the meals below are in the recipe section.

My Abundant Life: Recipes (

Day 1  -  Chunky Chicken Soup made from slow cooker stock.

Day 2  -  Meatloaf,  potato mash and steamed veg.  Leftover meatloaf frozen

Day 3  -  Leftover Chunky Chicken Soup with crusty bread

Day 4  -  Salmon Patties ( bulk cooked and in the freezer ) with rice and steamed veg

Day 5  -  Honey Mustard Chicken with rice

Day 6  -  Sausages,  potato mash and steamed veg

Day7  -   Get Your Own - maybe toasted sandwiches,  eggs on toast,  leftovers

Day 8  -   Lasagne ( made in bulk and frozen ) with steamed broccoli and silverbeet from the garden

Day 9  -   Chicken Drumsticks Lemon Flavoured with potato mash and steamed veg

Day 10 -  Massaman Beef made in the slow cooker served with rice.  Leftovers frozen in single serves

Day 11 -  Tuna Casserole served with steamed green veg.  

Day 12 -  Chop Suey served with rice.  Leftovers frozen into single serves

Day 13 -  Curried Sausage Casserole in slow cooker served with mashed potato.  Leftovers frozen 

Day 14 -  Leftovers of some description

Day 15 -  Tuna Pasta Bake ( bulk cooked and from the freezer )

Day 16 -  Cottage Pie ( I call it shepherd's pie )

Day 17 -  Chunky Chicken Soup from the freezer

Day 18 -  Beef Stew in slow cooker served with potato mash

Day 19 -   Homemade Chicken and Pineapple Pizza

Day 20 -   Silverside with potato mash and steamed veg

Day 21 -   Spag Bol ( sauce made in bulk and in the freezer )

Day 22 -  Chicken,  potato and veggie bake. Kale and broccoli used in bake came from our garden

Day 23 -   Freezer meals or eggs on toast 

Day 24 -   Fried rice with small amount of chicken added. 

Day 25 -   Family Meat Pie ( portions from the freezer ) served with steamed green veg  

Day 26 -   Leftover fried rice

Day 27 -  Fish portions ( from Aldi ) cooked in foil with lemons, served with potato mash and steamed veg

Day 28 -  Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks served with rice and steamed veg


Chop suey in the making.

Slow cooker Massaman Beef Curry

Homemade pizza

Bulk Chunky Chicken Soup for the freezer

Honey Mustard Chicken

How are you fighting rising meat prices ?

Do you have any super cheap meal ideas ?


  1. Since it's only me it's a bit easier to plan as I just sit myself. But yes, prices are definitely up and I do have to make things go further as I am on a fixed income pension (plus a PT job).

    I watch out for sales and/or Loyalty Point offers
    I make sure not to waste food.
    I find now that two meals or even 1 large meal and a snack is often enough.
    I serve smaller portions of meat and add lots of veg.
    I use canned foods like corned beef and Spam that I buy on sale - usually served with an egg
    Something on toast is often fine
    HM soups in cooler weather
    I eat vegetarian meals with chickpeas or pasta or rice as the main component (no TVP as I have a soy sensitivity).

  2. I made beef and bean burritos tonight. I use just under 1 pound of ground beef (mince) that I keep portioned and precooked in my freezer and rehydrated refried beans to add volume and protein. It makes 12-15 burritos and we are both satisfied with 1 each! So we have plenty left for leftovers another night and/or freezing in individual serves for later.
    Gardenpat in Ohio

  3. Hi Wendy, Liz from WA. Your menu plan is excellent. I also plan a months meals and do the shopping once a month. Yes meat prices are high, and as we grow our own lamb it's actually the cheapest option for us. I find buying a whole chicken good value and roasting it one night, and even with friends for dinner it still stretches to make a chicken and veggie pie, using 2 sheets of puff pastry, leftover shredded chicken, mixed frozen veggies and a tin of condensed chicken soup. Yhe pie feeds us for a couple of days. Also chunky pea and ham soup stretches out, and can pick up a ham hock cheaply and added dried split peas, onion, carrot, potato, celery, parsnip, turnip and a swede, yummy. Served with homemade bread. Winter cooking is the best I think, especially for saving money.

    1. Hi Liz. I'd love to be your neighbour with all that lamb.
      Totally agree about Winter cooking being cheaper. Salad ingredients do add up even if you grow some.

  4. Your plated foods look delicious. Have you tried lentils instead of tvp to boost protein and bulk up meat dishes? It works well. A good veggie burger made with beans, oats and seasonings including liquid smoke makes a good hamburger substitute. There are various recipes available. I am surprised at the price of veggie burgers at the store; more expensive than real meat!

    1. Hi Rita. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of lentils. It's the texture I don't like. same with dried beans and baked beans. I do add rolled oats to spag bol on occasion.

  5. wow - $12 for 1kg of beef mince is cheap compared to New Zealand! It's that for 500grams of premium mince.

    Here's the NZ lamb link...

    Oz -

    Food is a lot cheaper in Oz compared to here! And petrol ($2.04 on a super cheap special today!). I think we're heading to the kiwis heading back to Oz for cheaper living stage again!

    Good on you for stretching your budget!

    1. Yes it's always been dearer in NZ. Great countryside though.

  6. It's lovely to see what spices can do, because the dishes all look the same, but I'm sure they taste completely different.

    1. I didn't think they looked the same. If they were plated meals they would look even more varied. They certainly do taste completely different.

  7. Do you eat pork? It is not my favourite but it can be very cheap. I recently bought pork leg for $5 kg and minced up a kg, roast pork and diced pork. Way cheaper than buying prepared pork mince. Agree lamb and beef are beyond regular budgets!

    1. I'm not a pork fan Barb but Darren loves it.

  8. Hi Wendy. You mention that you don't like dried beans or baked beans. Do you like tinned kidney (red) beans? I ask because I have a recipe for tuna fishcakes using tinned tuna and tinned kidney beans, rather than the usual potato. They go nice and crispy when cooked and are lovely with salad. I would be happy to post the recipe if it would be of use to you.

    1. Unfortunately I don't like any types of beans - tinned or dried. I only like green beans. I wish I did like the kidney beans etc but for me it's the texture I can't handle. Thanks for the offer though.

  9. Prices have also gone up a lot in the states. What once was the regular price for meats in now the sale price, while the regular prices have skyrocketed. Fortunately it is summer time here and we have a lot of veggie meals.

    1. Anne, certain well known YouTubers tell their subscribers that prices are the same. Most of their viewers tell another story. I tend to believe what you are saying and many others.

  10. I think you are amazing keeping your food budget that low even for two people. I'm not a vegan or anything and love meat. Never been into those legumes etc. however I can highly recommend giving this recipe a go once. Make spag bolognese however instead of using mince use a tin of Aldi "New Season Lentils" - honestly it is worth a try once because I think the tins are 80 cents and I LOVE spag bol but this tinned ready to go put in your bol sauce is a game changer. If you don't like it you can feed it to the chickens. There is no soaking just pop in the pan and cook. Me saying I like it sounds weird because 5 years ago I would have never bought a tin myself. We eat meat most nights but this dish is a favourite. Kathy, Brisbane

    1. Hi Kathy and thankyou for your suggestion. Darren would probably like your recipe. I'm not sure I could handle the texture of the lentils. I use them in the soup mix when I make soup but they are in such small quantities. I will give your suggestion some thought.

  11. Your meals & planning look delish - I also add a can of aldi's lentils to my mince for bolognaise/lasagna/pasta bake or Con Carne, along with grated vegies, & as they are so tiny no-one has noticed them [it extends the mince alot]. Just wondering if you may have tried Mexican Hat Dip (it has 7 toppings inc guacaomole, sour cream, tomato, olives & cheese on top of refried canned beans - these beans actually pour out as a very smooth paste so perhaps may be easier to digest if you don't like the texture of beans) - it's usually served with plain corn chips (scooping all the layers at once) at parties but you could just use lebanese bread/crackers to scoop instead (might be worth thinking for for a weekend meal) - the recipe, which incl what refried canned beans look like, is online. Anyway lucky we have access to buy & store meat as my sister & her hubby lived in north Kenya for 7 months building a house (they themselves lived in a tiny hut with no refrigeration so all meals were either from dried or canned foods - I tried to send her extra ideas to eat with lentils or peas; including baking flavoured chickpeas to eat as a protein snack, ideally crunchy like fava beans/crackers. But many of their foods contained weevils (which the locals would just boil up the weevils were thought of as extra protein, or my sister could daily pick the weevils out ....). We also enjoy making hommous (blizted chick peas with garlic, tahini & lemon juice all into a smooth paste) to go with Falafels on Lebanese bread with salad.

    We often alternate meals with meat, so we can buy meat such as steak/lamb, some include: curried homegrown Broadbeans (we have lots in our freezer), spaghetti or (homegrown) zucchini zoodles with various sauces mixed through such as Carbonara (cheese, cream & some bacon &/or mushrooms); homegrown garlic & fresh chilli’s fried in olive oil together, Tomatoes (fresh or canned) fried with onion and herbs/eggplant added or Pesto (all inspired from Women's Weekly Italian cookbook); and sometimes we make our own fresh pasta (which tastes even better is alot of fun to make and, its very frugal - you'd be able to use your own chicken's eggs so just need to buy flour!).

    We also enjoy Zucchini slice (with ham or bacon); omelettes, quiche (vegetarian and bacon), Frittata with choice of vegies or bacon (baked in large frypan or mini-frittatas will fill 24 silicone mini muffin tins); Risotto, mini egg & bacon pies (an egg baked in 1 piece of bacon in mimi muffin tin until cooked); Cheese Macaroni, Potato Bake, Stir Fried Hokkein noodles (garlic, sweet chilli sauce & soy sauce & vegies); Baked whole potatoes with toppings; Pizza with cheese & Basil leaves or garlic/rosemary (or salsa, onion, jalapenos, & olives); lots of vegie soups in winter like pumpkin (plain or with either chilli paste, cumin, ginger or creamed corn). Whilst away recently we enjoyed a BLAT [Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato] served warm on Turkish bread with mayonaise and, Crepes (filled with mushrooms, tomatoes & some fetta cheese) - maybe Cafe Gower could serve some and you'll find some extra inspiration that reduces your food bill. Ideally meat prices will reduce soon ... yesterday in Coles in Sydney the 1/2 legs of Lamb were reducing from $14Kilo to $12kilo.


This blog is designed to be a source of encouragement and inspiration.

Negative comments will not be published. Comments advertising businesses or goods for sale will not be published.

Please include your first name in your comment so that I can respond to you.

Comments are moderated manually. Please allow a few hours for them to appear.