Trying to study and look after yourself on a tight budget? Try these tips to help you create simple, tasty and nutritious food without breaking the bank!
Where to start?
Enjoy a variety of foods from these five food groups every day.
Grain foods: 6 - 7 serves
1 serve = 1 slice of bread, ½ a roll or wrap, ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta or porridge, 2/3 cup cereal, ¼ muesli
Vegetables: 5 - 5 ½ serves
1 serve = ½ cup cooked veg, ½ cup cooked beans or lentils, 1 cup of salad, ½ potato
Fruit: 2 serves
1 serve = 1 apple, banana, orange, pear etc., 2 apricots, kiwi fruit, plum etc., 1 cup canned fruit
Dairy and alternatives: 3 ½ serves
1 serve = 1 cup milk, 2 slices of cheese, 200g yoghurt
Meat and alternatives: 2 ½ serves
1 serve = 65g cooked lean meats (~100g raw), 80g cooked poultry (~100g raw), 100g cooked fish, 1 small can of fish, 2 eggs, 1 cup of bean or legumes, 30g nuts or seeds
Based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines for adolescents aged 14-18 years of age.
Go for water
Water is the best choice. Aim for 6-8 glasses per day. Limit fruit juices, soft drinks and sports drinks as they contain a lot of excess sugar and energy.
Vegetarian diets require careful planning to make sure essential nutrients aren’t missed. It’s important to include eggs, lentils, beans, tofu and nuts to meet protein and iron needs. If in doubt, talk to a dietitian.
These foods aren’t included in the five food groups as they are high in saturated fat, added salt, added sugar and offer little nutritional value. These foods should be enjoyed as treats or during special occasions and be mindful of your portions.
Choose burgers and wraps with grilled meat and lots of salads and stir fries or noodles with lots of vegetables. Try to limit deep fried foods, creamy sauces and pastry items.
How long can foods last in the freezer?
2 months: sliced deli meats, ice cream, sausages
3 months: fish, soups, stews, purchased frozen meals
4 months: raw mince, cakes, pies
6 months: cooked meats and poultry, raw chops, vegetarian casseroles
8 months: bread, pastries
12 months: raw meat steaks or roasts, whole raw chicken, muffins
Quick meal ideas
Yo muesli: throw some muesli in a tub of reduced fat yoghurt
2- egg omelette: mix 2 eggs, diced tomato, mushrooms and reduced fat grated cheese. Cook in a pan.
Wholegrain toast with eggs or baked beans
Brekkie smoothie: add 1 banana, 1 cup of reduced fat milk and ¼ rolled oats to a blender for a brekkie on the go.
Add some variety to your favourite high fibre cereals by topping with fruit or frozen berries
English muffin pizzas: English muffins topped with no added salt tomato paste/cheese/baked beans/pineapple/chicken. Grill.
Flat wraps: spread hummus or cream cheese on flat bread and top with favourite salads and meat.
Noodle cakes: add 1 cup of frozen veg, 2 eggs and reduced fat grated cheese to a packet of cooked instant noodles. Mix together, spoon into a pan and cook.
Quick fried rice: combine frozen veg, scrambled egg and cooked rice into pan. Heat through and add reduced salt soy sauce.
Quick cous cous/pasta: add frozen veg, small can of tuna, ½ jar of passata and reduced-fat grated cheese to a bowl of cooked pasta. Microwave or heat over the stove to heat through.
Spuds: microwave 1 whole potato with a tablespoon of water until tender. Cut into quarters and top with baked beans/lean mince/canned tomato's/herbs/reduced-fat cheese.
Simple stir fry sauce: mix 2 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp honey with garlic and ginger. Add this sauce to your favourite mix of vegies, lean meat or chickpeas and rice or noodles.
- work out a budget and stick to it
- plan your meals for the week
- write a list
- don’t shop when you are hungry
- look for specials
- only buy what you need
- shop with friends and buy in bulk
Tips and tricks!
- stock up on herbs and spiced to add extra flavour to your quick dishes without adding extra salt
- bulk up your meals with vegetables (fresh, canned or frozen) or canned beans, lentils or chickpeas. They're budget friendly and packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals.