4 budget foods worth cooking from scratch
Best budget food #1: Homemade yoghurt
Kidspot Kitchen editor Jen makes yoghurt every week for her brood of four, saving hundreds of dollars a year on her grocery bill compared to buying individual plastic tubs.
"My oldest can't get enough of the stuff and it's so easy to invest in a yoghurt maker and have a batch going all the time," Jen says. "It can cost as much as $1 or $2 to buy an individual tub at the supermarket."
Because yoghurt is a dairy food, it's a great source of calcium for growing bones. With live cultures, yoghurt is great for digestion and ticks the box as a family super food.
Jen serves her yoghurt with fresh fruit for flavour, but you could probably whip up some of the homemade fruit toppings listed below to give it a bit more kick.
Yoghurt budget food recipes:
- Kidspot Kitchen's homemade yoghurt recipe
- Kidspot's baby yoghurt recipe
- Kidspot Kitchen's apricot topping recipe to serve with yoghurt
- Kidspot Kitchen's strawberry topping recipe to serve with yoghurt
- Kidspot Kitchen's homemade yoghurt cheese recipe
- Kidspot Kitchen's Pear and apricot puree recipe
Best budget food #2: Chicken stock
Homemade chicken stock is simple to make, extremely good for you, and takes what is essentially food waste and transforms it back into nutritious food – clearly a frugal feat.
In a properly prepared stock, the bones are allowed to sit in water with a bit of vinegar for an hour or so before heating. The stock is then slow-cooked over several hours before being strained and stored in the fridge or freezer for later use.
The minerals you can attain from homemade stock include calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. The gelatin in homemade stock is also nutritious - stock cubes often don't contain this. Gelatin improves body weight as well as bone mineral density in states of protein undernutrition. Additionally, studies have shown that convalescing adults, who have lost weight because of cancer, fare better if gelatin is added to their diet.
How to make healthy chicken stock from bones
Start by cooking carrots, celery, and onions in a large stock pot, using a small amount of oil with salt and pepper to taste. Add the bones of the chicken. Cover in cold water with a dash of vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the stove down so that it simmers, uncovered, for at least four hours. You may need to skim the chicken stock occasionally to remove foam from the surface.
After simmering, strain the chicken stock to remove the bones and vegetables. If you would like a more robust stock, simmer the chicken stock for a few more hours to reduce it before putting it away for storage.
The chicken stock can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. As the chicken stock rests in the fridge, a layer of fat will form on the top. Leave the layer of fat on the stock, dipping underneath it for chicken stock when you need it.
Chicken stock budget recipes:
- Kidspot Kitchen's simple chicken soup
- Kidspot Kitchen's chicken risotto
- Creamy chicken casserole
- Easy Moroccan chicken with cous cous
Best budget food #3: Salad dressing
Most store-bought salad dressings contain sugar and soybean oils that aren't always the best for the family. They usually cost $2-$5 to buy, so in a year of salads, making your own dressing can really add up.
It's so easy to whip up a dressing and if you use virgin olive oil or healthy fats the nutrition benefits will be even better.
The easiest way to make a dressing is to combine oil, lemon juice (or vinegar), salt and pepper in a screw top jar and shake until well combined.
Best homemade salad dressing recipes:
Best budget food #4: Homemade bread
OK, so baking your own bread is definitely not something all of us will be able to fit into our day. But buying a breadmaker and switching it on at night so a loaf bakes while the family sleeps isn't too difficult. The home-baked bread not only fills your house with beautiful aromas but allows you to serve the family healthy, preservative-free bread.
If you want to get really healthy, making your own sour dough bread is the real deal (but you will need a starter yeast and patience for kneading). If you have a kitchen aid, the dough hook takes the hard yards out of kneading bread and makes it quicker.
For those who can't be bothered with the fuss of baking bread and waiting for the dough to rise, try Melissa Klemke's Irish soda bread recipe - it's a cinch!