Food Insecurity Support

By Aimee on

Hands up if you’ve noticed your food bill increase lately? For those that are already doing miraculous things to stretch their budget the price increase is causing food insecurity. Many people still need to pay rent or pay for petrol to get to work, and places they can cut out costs is usually food.

I grew up knowing I would be fed, but every bit of food was calculated for the week. If we ran out of something that week we had to wait till next pay day. I remember having to put food back from the conveyer belt at the shops. Mum would put the necessity’s first then the ‘treats’ or things we could do without, last. She watched the cost of our weekly shop add up on the screen and would count the change in her purse or do a mix of payments just to get us through. In terms of meals I remember eating a lot of cereal or toast for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit with maybe one lunchbox treat during the day and meat and three veg for dinners. Think mince, chicken legs, sausages and the occasional steak or lamb dish. My mum and I would have Spaghetti Bolognese as a treat just for us while my brother and sister would eat something else. Oh, and Tuna Mornay was a regular in our household as well.

Fast forward a few years (cough I’ll be 31 soon cough) And I still occasionally feel the need to ration out portions that I have purchased for the week. Especially when it comes to Kindy Lunch boxes. Babybels aren’t necessarily the cheapest cheese treat. I must say though I am incredibly lucky to notice the price rise without it affecting what I buy too much. In saying that, a lot of our meals are very basic and affordable yet incredibly delicious. It’s these meals and ideas I want to share with you today.

Veggie Scrap Stock

stock pot

One mother’s day I was gifted a ‘no waste kitchen’ book to help us use more of the scraps that usually get chucked or composted. In it was the simplest idea. Freeze your veggie scraps (think broccoli cut offs, Onion peels, celery that’s gone limp in the fridge etc.) then when you have a collection of frozen scraps add them to a large pot of water. Add a drizzle of oil, salt, pepper and simmer for a few hours. Sam and I also add a few dried Shitake’s (any mushroom works but isn’t a necessity – just adds to the earthy flavour) and Kombu to give that umami-ness. Kombu is a type of seaweed that does have other names in Asian countries outside of Japan but is most commonly known as Kombu.

Then freeze the stock! We use it mostly for soups but also make Gravy with it and add it to flavour some dishes like Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie.

In Season Fruit and Veg


If you don’t know what is in season jump online and have a look at what is in season for you in your area. You’ll also find it’s the cheapest stuff on the shelves as well as the tastiest. If it isn’t in season it is often brought from interstate or overseas which adds to the cost and the food isn’t as fresh. If you have a local farmers market it’s worth having a look. If you’re time poor (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) Even your coles and woolies will have fruit and veg on special that is in season. For example during summer you will find tomatoes particularly cheap. At the moment you’ll see a lot of zucchinis!

Meatless Mondays (or in my case #everydayismeatlessmonday)


It’s been all over the news that meat prices are up! Being Vegan we don’t eat meat but if it’s a part of your diet try cutting out one or two meals a week and replacing with beans, lentils, stir-fry’s, even tofu! We still put Tofu under packaged food and only do one to two meals of it a week. With these ingredients we will do a chilli con carne, lentil Dahl, or tofu dumplings.

Unprocessed Foods

Steam Veg

That jar of pre-made spaghetti Bolognese is going to cost you a lot more than a tin of tomatoes and some fresh garlic, onion, and dried ‘Italian herbs mix’ and it doesn’t take more than 2 or 3 minutes more to prepare either. It’s also something we can make in bulk and freeze to make meals even easier in future.

A meal we have regularly in our house is steamed veg (whatever is in season but carrots are usually involved) and rice with a side of pickled foods or kimchi (stuff Sam has made) Simple, quick, easy, nutritious, and thoroughly enjoyed by little miss which makes it a win in our household.

If you have a look at your receipt you’ll find the things that add up quickly are your snacks and treats and pre made meals or flavours. I know a lot of it is understanding flavour and kitchen confidence when it comes to cooking from scratch but I promise it isn’t as hard as it seems.

Child unprocessed plate

Sam and I went through a lot of Kraft vegan Mac and Cheese. But at $4 or so a packet and we’d need two between the three of us for a lunch, the cost add up quickly. So now it’s a treat. Because we do deserve to treat ourselves! We often pay more for convenience and we’ve grown up in a world that has advertised food this way.

Porridge for Breakfast

Porridge By far a favourite. I know not everyone has the capacity to buy in bulk like we do. But home brand bags of oats cost a pittance and make a great healthy, filling and cheap breakfast alternative. Cook with water, add a small handful of fruit like berries or banana and top with a little milk. I often use frozen raspberries and hemp seeds but apple and cinnamon is a good combo too.

Make your own Noodles

Noodle Soup and Kimchi

I understand this one can be a time related thing. But until trying it recently I had no idea how simple it is to make your own noodles. You don’t even need a pasta machine. Just a knife, flour, water, salt, oil and a little bit of time. I googled a recipe for knife cut noodles remembering my love for them in Korea. I made them for the first time the other day and added them to some miso soup with a side of kimchi. If I calculated the cost of the meal it would have come to less than $2/person. And bonus! Making your own noodles cuts out plastic use.

And finally….

Self Photo picking blackberries

I know not all of these ideas will fit your family or time availability. Especially if you’ve got picky eaters or work full time while raising kidlets. But increasing your food prep knowledge just a little, looking at your favourite regular meals and thinking ‘What raw ingredients are in here?’ And thinking about food in a more sustainable way as well could really cut costs for the week.

The government has only this week handed out $250 to some families within Australia. This was for the increased prices we’re seeing for petrol and food and housing expenses. It’s a drop in the ocean to the issues we’re actually facing as a country and I know my ideas aren’t fixing the real problem. However I hope they inspire you to think a little differently about food and the way you shop.

If you are struggling with feeding yourself and your family as well as pay bills and live life please have a look at the below website (South Australian Specific) or contact your local food bank or Salvation Army. More people than ever are reaching out in need of assistance. This website also has other suggestions for housing, health care, transport and education. Plus a range of other financial support institutions.