r/melbourne Mar 12 '23

I need the cheapest best meals for a one person The Sky is Falling


Im a single 19F kicked out of home and while i have a full time job I’m spending a lot at the supermarkets for not much and not good. Currently spending $150 per week at Coles and getting $30 in savings. This is getting me fuck all snacks, eggs, milk, not usually packaged meat, 5 frozen meals, whatever. But I’m raised by my dad, and my dad couldn’t make a meal for anything so i dont know different meals and their ingredients.

Can someone comment a list of cheap ingredients that make food easily and tasty from woolies/aldi/iga/coles?

Edit: Hey thankyou so much for all the replies on this post i got to come back to, its insanely appreciated. My house got flooded in 22 and i got split apart from my dad in living situation and am now a tenant of a relative of a relative and it has felt really hard to eat good without going to a restaurant or buying expensive ingredients i dont understand how to use. I like a lot of protein when i eat but ive never ventured further than spaghetti due to feeling like ill fail cooking. To all the people who put the effort in to reply youre gonna be really helping my frustrated pockets, hopefully some other people found your fun and cheap meals a godsend too! Ive needed to make this post for a while and im happy i did. Thanks again!



u/Distinct-Apartment-3 Mar 12 '23

Can I suggest RecipeTin Eats for an online recipe site.

So much variety on offer, plenty of subs if you can’t find something and the food you make will be amazing. You’ll also be teaching yourself a new and wonderful life skill 👍🏽


u/toast76 Mar 12 '23

Came here to say this. A lot of the recipes are super basic to make and have relatively few ingredients. You could make a smashing spag bol that will feed you for a week for next to nothing.


u/ConsultJimMoriarty Shit Shaker Mar 12 '23

OMG, her apple crumble and lamb koftas are divine!


u/ostervan Mar 12 '23

Is that the two ingredient sausage roll lady? I love her so, so much.


u/dubaichild Mar 13 '23

Best slow cooked lamb shanks and slow cooked meat chilli ever


u/SpecialistRadish1682 Mar 12 '23

If you have access to a stove top and freezer I would suggest ditching the frozen meals and making your own. Things like bolognese mince, chicken curry and vegetarian curries you can make 6 - 8 portions for around $20 and just add pasta or rice when you need it. I left home at 15 and lived off tomato sandwiches and food stolen from my workplace so I know how tough it is and you’re doing great. Oh and you can also ‘pimp’ 2 minute noodles with fresh veggies / egg / meat / tuna etc


u/HoolioDee Mar 12 '23

I like everything you said. Exactly my thoughts.

Especially the 2 min noodles. I get the cheap non-maggi ones, like IndoMie or ramen. Bring to a boil, add some soy, rice wine vinegar, a dash of sesame oil, and plop in an egg. Give it a minute for the egg to cook,and you've got some tasty ramen right there! Takes like 5 mins total.


u/atubslife Mar 12 '23

I toss in some frozen veg, it almost feels like cheating. It's so good but so simple and easy.


u/Equivalent-Ad7207 Mar 12 '23

My favourite part was the bit about pinching food from work.


u/Notyit Mar 12 '23

Don't eat instant noodles or limit them to one day.

Gotta look after your health

Macorni soup while it takes more time is way more healthier


u/AmzHalll Mar 12 '23

If you get the mi goreng noodles, add some spring onions and a fried egg and you’ve got yourself a gourmet meal


u/skipthedamned Mar 12 '23

A good savings is hitting up markets on weekends and getting the basics cheaper there. You would be shocked how much you save on basic fruit, veg and even some markets meat.

For cheap meals ground beef is super versatile. Make a basic cook up of beef, onion, tinned tomato and spices of your choice. Portion it out. You can then use the portions for a range of stuff. Add some veg to bulk it up and create variation. Like add some mushrooms and peppers and you got a good pasta sauce. Add beans, and some chilli then get a wraps, some cheese and you got basic burritos. Get a pita or two and you can add some veg of your choice and cheese then you got mini pizza


u/[deleted] Mar 12 '23

Yes! And at Queen Vic Market on Sunday arvo between 2:30 and 3:00, some butchers offer half price.


u/skipthedamned Mar 12 '23

Yup. They rather flog it really cheap than have to pack it and ship it back.


u/askvictor Mar 12 '23

Yeah, hit the markets. Footscray market for west-side or Preston if you're North (or find where your nearest fresh market is). Mostly avoid Aldi for fruit & veg; my experience is they tend to be lower quality and go off pretty quickly (though their meat and cheese is great)


u/y2kizzle Mar 12 '23

Look for a shop called cheaper buy miles. Crazy low prices for normal stuff


u/dubaichild Mar 13 '23

Also NQR had good normal brands that they did the marketing labels wrong, so like chicken noodle soup with a picture of pumpkin on it!


u/y2kizzle Mar 13 '23

Lucky dip !


u/SybariticDelight Mar 12 '23

There’s one on Sydney Rd in Brunswick. It will save you heaps x


u/_Ginger_Nut_ Mar 12 '23

Sorry to hear about your situation. You can use a lot of online recipe websites to find good meals. With meat, if you see something on special buy it, you can always freeze it until you use it. Things like sausage packs are good too, Woolies have some for $9 and you get six in a pack, this lasts me three dinners. You can also go to a green grocer for salad/veggies. For thing a like spaghetti sauce, you can buy things like tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, garlic, wostershire sauce, stock cubes, once you get these you will have extra for future meals so cuts down the cost. Defs recommend a good spice shelf, onion powder has changed my life. Even scrambled eggs with a sprinkle of onion powder brings it up a level. You can also look at things like powdered milk or UHT milk. Always go the non-brand name items. It’s essentially the exact same and brand name for half the price. If you are ever really struggling there are soup vans around to that offer free meals. Feel free to message me if you want any more ideas or just to run anything past me. All the best mate! X


u/Ashh_RA Mar 12 '23

Let’s not jump up to premium $9 for 6 sausages so quickly before appreciating the $12 for 24 pack of ‘meat’ sausages.


u/Notyit Mar 12 '23

Canned sardines great protein sauce or tuna.

And cheap.

For canned sardines I flour them and fry.

Tuna you make cakes with potatoes and breadcumbs


u/zaprime87 Mar 12 '23

Baby sardines, half an oinion finely chopped, lemon juice, salt and pepper on buttered toast. Delicious


u/yeahnahprobably Mar 12 '23

I have been trying to drastically reduce my supermarket bill and this website has given me so many ideas, using some of the cheapest ingredients that you can buy, and many of the recipes are also quite simple and low effort. I especially like their one pot recipes (less washing up and less complicated) and if you have something leftover in the fridge you can look at the index to find all of the recipes that they have that use that ingredient. It's American but still super helpful.


u/bojanhartlane Mar 12 '23

Budget Bytes is awesome. I learn so many different recipes from there and most of them translate well too budget-wise


u/Althusser_Was_Right Mar 12 '23

Lentils Chickpeas Rice.

Fork out a bit for a few spice mixes. And you can make some good vegetarian curries. Not super exciting, but filling and delicious.


u/HoolioDee Mar 12 '23

I dunno, add the right spices and you're in for a real treat!

I'm looking at you, cumin...!


u/OatcreamIPA Mar 12 '23

Fenugreek is also key, harder to find but makes a curry for me.


u/heykody Mar 12 '23

Good rice, good curry, good Gandhi, let's hurry.


u/SufficientStudy5178 Mar 12 '23


Comes with a shopping list and there's a vegan/meat plan as well.


u/sjf83 Mar 12 '23

buy a stick blender. then buy veggies that are on special sautee them in a saucepan with some onions and garlic - celery if you can and spices or just salt and pepper. when it starts browning up turn the heat down leave it a bit more. add some water to cover and stir let it simmer. repeat a few times then blend. soups go a long way in winter.

sorry for the rough and ready recipe - there's some great advice here though. love it when this sub gets properly wholesome.


u/totalpunisher0 Mar 12 '23 edited Mar 12 '23

r/eatcheapandhealthy is great if you just use the search bar and type in something like "eggplant" or "chickpeas" or whatever veg you can buy on special in bulk. Or even look up meal plan or weekly meal plan and people may have listed their very frugal shopping list and how to turn 6~ items into multiple different recipes.

Personally I stock up on: lentils, chickpeas, beans, rice, tin tomatoes, onion and garlic and then have a pantry full of spices and mixes to add. Infinite combos. I don't eat meat so my shopping is cheaper than others but you can't go wrong with cooking off onion and garlic, add spices, add tin tomatoes then chuck in protein of choice and serve with rice and something green.


u/Zestyclose_Ranger_78 Mar 12 '23

$150 is a decent amount for a single person - it’s ready meals etc that will get you.

Best advice I can give you is to learn how to cook basics well.

Learn to make a couple of good good pasta sauces - a tomato based one and a veggie base. A cream base is also good but more expensive than veggies.

Learn to make a couple of basic rice dishes.

Then learn to roast a chicken and make tofu so you can load in some protein on top.

Then just mix and match various combinations of rice, pasta, sauces and protein.

Greek yogurt and oats are great for breakfasts.

You don’t need to have a huge level of skill in the kitchen, but if you start with a few basics you’ll be able to cook good tasting food for little money.

Check out the basics with babish YouTube channel. Great source for starter cooks.

I’m living on my own at the moment before relocating to join my fiancé and I’m spending $50-60 on food a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

And as others have said, spices allllll day. Cooked rice with tofu is boring. Cooked rice with marinated tofu is the tits.

Hope you’re doing good, OP.


u/Blitzer046 Mar 12 '23

All of this is good, but roast chickens out of coles or woolies are loss leaders and go for about the same price or lower than uncooked. Some savings can be found there.


u/Zestyclose_Ranger_78 Mar 12 '23

Yeah great point, I often get those, but the question was about learning things to cook, and knowing how to roast is a good skill. Also if you time your shop right you can get a whole tray of chicken breasts for $2, so good to know how to cook them.


u/Blitzer046 Mar 12 '23

Agreed! We should be giving advice on how to make chicken stock out of the carcass to fully utilise the chicken.


u/tdfhucvh Mar 15 '23

Thankyou so mucha! But how do i make a pasta sauce? I dont really like veggie based ones. Does anyone know how i can make a a good sauce?


u/Zestyclose_Ranger_78 Mar 16 '23

A tomato based sauce is the easiest thing in the world once you know how to do it.


  • half a small onion, diced
  • two cloves of garlic or two teaspoons of crushed garlic (cheaper and easier)
  • tomato paste
  • a tin of tomatoes. Crushed is easiest but any will work. Budget brands all the way.
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh herbs are good - thyme, oregano etc, but just grab an Italian herb mix spice jar from the super.
  • if you like it spicy, a dash of red pepper flake
  • if you like it creamy, 5 or 10 percent fat Greek yogurt is a way better choice than cream - cheaper and healthier.


In a pot, boil water, salt the fuck out of it and bang your pasta into cook. Once the pasta is mostly cooked, drain it but retain half a cup of the pasta water and set aside.

In a pan, add a little oil on medium heat, add your onion and sauté it for about five mins, stirring it until it goes translucent. Then add your garlic and a good tablespoon of tomato paste, cook it together for a few more mins until they all get to know each other.

Add the tinned tomatoes, salt and pepper, herbs, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer it until it reduces down from a soup consistency to a sauce consistency, usually around 15-20 mins.

Turn down the heat a little, chuck in a tablespoon of Greek yogurt and the pasta water, stir it together and then add the pasta in and give it all a further cook together for a few minutes.

Serve it up and chuck some cheese on top.

For veggies, just pick the veggies you like and add them after onions but before the garlic and cook till soft, then do the recipe as normal. I like eggplant but you can add literally any vegetable- mushrooms, potato, broccoli, carrot, a mix of all the above. You can also add in legumes or beans. You can also add meat like chicken, lamb etc.

If you’re not feeling pasta, cook the above down a little less with some legumes and veggies and a bit of bread on the side for a soup.


u/theeclosetalker >Insert Text Here< Mar 12 '23

Pasta is always a good place to start. Then you can venture out from there once you become confident in the kitchen. The best thing is that if you make too much it makes for great leftovers.

Start with simple ones like Fettuccine Alfredo, most of the ingredients are under $10. I’ve included prices so it’s easier to grasp the idea of how cheap it is.

Woolies Home brand items;

Cream: $2.80 Butter: $3.70 Fettuccine: $1.25 Parmesan: $2.00 - find the non refrigerated version in the pasta isle, it’s normally on the top shelf. = $9.75


u/windy_wolf Mar 12 '23

Girl you need to start making things from scratch. Frozen meals are costly - you're paying for the simplicity and convenience of heating something readymade.

Grilled cheese was my friend as a young adult. Really easy, can be made on the stove in a pan with just bread, butter and cheese. Add a side salad to be healthy - 4 leaf salad mix, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and dressing (olive oil, salt, pepper lemon juice - can be made ahead and stored in a jar for a few days in fridge). Jazz up your salad by adding things like 90c can of tuna, 1/4 can chickpeas, feta, walnuts etc to avoid getting bored. Same goes for your grilled cheese - sliced tomato, ham, salami, pesto sauce etc. This is an easy 10 min meal.

I'd definitely look at stir-frying basics such as veg (the trick is to season properly - salt and pepper, but definitely try Cajun, Moroccan, chilli, soy sauce etc when you feel confident). Things like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms etc are so quick on the stove. Check YouTube on how to prep them.


u/Hongohones Mar 12 '23

Buy a large bag of brown rice. It's about the cheapest food and one of the most healthy. Buy a lot cheap spices and a big bottle of rice bran oil, which is also cheap.

Rice cakes are cheap also to use as snacks instead of expensive bickies and things like that.

Frozen veges are cheaper than than from the fresh section and actually have more nutrients as they're snap frozen when they're very fresh.

Add the affordable meat or eggs if that's your thing, or buy tofu instead for protein, it's $3 for 450grams.

Youtube search some vegetarian fried rice options for ideas on flavours and how to best cook it. Fried brown rice frozen veg and tofu is pretty bland but can easily taste great if you use some spices you enjoy. I ate this a lot during the lockdown of 2021 because I had stuff all income and didn't want to spend my savings. I'd change up the spices a lot so I didn't get bored, chilli one night, curry, herbs etc can make it seem like a different meal. If you buy the vegeta vege stock and add a little of that, it contains a little msg, tastes great and gives fried rice that nice shiny consistency of the stuff you buy in chinese take aways.

This is cheap reliable and good for you, you can add grated cheese and or fry / toast some bread if you want to make the recipe feel a bit more filling. It can be a bit salty, so make sure you drink some water with it also.

Just one idea. You need to cook the rice first before you fry it.

Best of luck, food is completely over priced.


u/end-of-autumn Mar 12 '23

Kilo chicken breast 10 bucks 2 cups uncooked rice (turns into around 6 cups) literally less than 2 bucks bag of frozen veggies 3-4 bucks. Cook up the breasts. Make a basic fried rice with the veggies in it and you got 2 days worth of high protein and complex carbs for like 7ish bucks a day.

Kilo mince 12 bucks Bag of pasta 2 bucks Bolognaise sauce 3/4 bucks You can bulk this out with carrots, zucchini, mushrooms etc

Again a couple days food for less than 10 bucks a day

Whole roast chicken 10 bucks Pack of wraps 3 bucks Pre made bag of salad if being lazy 7 bucks

Easy and fast 10 bucks a day

Keep it simple but you can eat real healthy foods for around $10 a day


u/tofu_bird Mar 12 '23

Congee. It's versitile (add wherever ingredient you want) and designed to be reheated repeatedly. Add more water to stretch the rice. Look for chinese congee recipes (it's called 'dakjuk' in Korean).


u/roadkill4snacks Mar 12 '23

$150 is a crazy amount. I spend $20-40 a week for two people at queen vic market for fruit and veggies. meat or fish or eggs is $6-30 a week. snacks and drinks are an optional bonus but can be expensive.

cheap easy meals:

1) buy a cheap rice cooker; add a cup of rice; add two cups of water; add a cup of frozen veggies. add can tuna or an egg or pan fried meat or fish.

2) pasta dishes: boiling water + pasta; pasta sauce + veggies + (optional: bacon or mince).

3) roasted chicken + bread + mayonnaise

make watching cooking shows or youtube cooking channels a hobby and education:

one example is this guy: https://www.youtube.com/@NatsWhatIReckon/videos

this was his first popular video during lockdown (or any of his newer vids) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OEDjDKV038


u/Angry3042 Mar 12 '23

Around the world every culture bulks out meals with cheap staples like spuds, pasta, rice, noodles, lentils, chickpeas, bread, etc. Add in some seasonal fruit & veg & you’re 3/4’s there. Weetbix/Vitabrits are cheap & good for you as opposed to lolly cereal’s that are 1/3 sugar.


u/OldMaterial3934 Mar 12 '23

I budget for $60-$100 one week for two people and then once a month $150 when I get washing pods, girly things eg.

I always shop the specials, I use the coles app and look at the catalogue and shop accordingly. I use click and collect as it shows me what I am spending as I add everything into my cart. And I’ll adjust to budget, I buy staples like milk, eggs, a lunch meat (usually ham), bread, potatoes, frozen Veg steam packs and then meat as per specials they have had some great deals at my local coles 3 meat options for $20. I think you can definitely get your shop a bit cheaper and still get a good variety of food and not feel like your missing out.

Meal options Ild suggest are sausages and mash with gravy Chicken tenders with veggie’s Chicken snitzels veggies and chips Frozen fish and chips Nachos I do mince, cheese and corn chips Chicken kababs with rice Frozen Stir frys vegs a meat, sauce and rice Crumbed steaks and vegies The pre made Mexican burritos with rice There’s a few others I always get in the pastry with lamb or chicken there easy to through in the oven and just do a rice or veggies with.

Hope that helps :)


u/ms45 Mar 12 '23

My struggle basics

- 1 can red beans
- 1 can mixed beans
- 1 onion
- 1 capsicum (might not be the best option atm)
- bacon, salami or whatever you can afford
- any veg that is cheap, carrots are crazy cheap rn while everything else is exxy

fry up onions and vegies and processed meats, add your beans, add any spices you might have sitting around (mine were always cumin and coriander powder, bit o cayenne) and if you can squeeze an ALDI lime on top you're laughing


u/Lamont-Cranston Mar 12 '23

Rice and beans, 1 cup of brown rice and 1 can of kidney beans. Rice is $2.5/kg and beans are $1/can.

That is going to be quite plain and dry, you can add frozen corn or peas, roast vegetables like carrots or pumpkin or sweet potato.


u/Hanhula Mar 12 '23

Tomato paste 415g: $2.10

Small pizza bases, 12 pack: $4.80

Mozzarella ball, 350g: $5.50, or instead get one of the bigger bags of grated cheese (make sure it's not just cheddar) for $7 when it goes on sale every week.

This should make you a good few basic pizzas. You can get some herbs and spices to make them better, and you can add toppings as you can get them (I recommend garlic powder and Masterfood's pizza topper for an easy option). I have ARFID, and this is one of my very easy go-tos.

You can also do any combination of bread-like thing and tomato paste and cheese for an easy tasty lunch or dinner. Pita bread, tomato paste, basil, and shredded mozzarella shoved in the oven at 220 for a little? It'll be just as delicious as if you used a bigger pizza base.

Do any of your friends know how to cook, or is there anyone at work you could ask? You might be able to have someone help you figure things out, which would help a lot!


u/ConsultJimMoriarty Shit Shaker Mar 12 '23

Preston and QV markets are your friends, esp toward the end of the trading day. You can get a full bag of veg for under $10.


u/Minute-Masterpiece98 Mar 12 '23

Fire up the ricecooker with your grain of choice.

2x 500g packs of Turkey mince, large bag of frozen mixed veggies, garlic/ginger, bit of sirarcha and soy.

Boom. You've got yourself easily 6-8 portions ready to be boxed up for the week.

Healthy. Freezer friendly. Cheap as fuck. Job done.


u/Ir0nTys0n Mar 12 '23

Beef Mince from a butcher. My local does 3Kgs for $30. Rice, Frozen vegetables. Buy nothing processed and no snacks. In season fruit only. This will keep you satiated which in turn will save you money.


u/Manofchalk Mar 12 '23 edited Mar 12 '23

Can someone comment a list of cheap ingredients that make food easily and tasty

No such thing as each meal will require specific ingredients and who knows what you want to make, but there is pantry stuff that you should just have available. - Olive oil - Garlic (I just buy the pre-minced stuff) - Salt & Pepper - Rice - Pasta - Frozen Peas & Corn kernels - Brown onions

With those pantry staples, a couple of more specific ingredients and spices you can make a lot of different meals.

Look up the internet for student/college meals. Those tend to be cheaper, simple, quick, oriented to making single servings and doesn't assume a massive spice rack or require exotic ingredients.

I'v lately been making a lot of dishes from these Youtube channels Kwoowk, Ethan Chlebowski and Pro Home Cooks. Kwoowk in particular I find great as he really doesn't bother with the fiddly things about cooking like nutrition, exact ingredient amounts, portion sizes, etc nor is it this soulless meal prep kind of cooking. He's great for developing an intuitive or at least carefree way of cooking.


u/[deleted] Mar 12 '23

Maybe slightly less cheap but they have microwavable meals (butter chicken, etc.) that are reasonably tasty and healthy. Normally they're about $10 but you can often get a cheap $5 deal on them.


u/Diabolik77 Mar 12 '23

Step 1: Intermittent Fasting.

not to sound facetious but i did cut my weekly costs by $50 addressing diet and defeating cravings/hunger.


u/LaterAlligater Mar 12 '23

I like to buy a roast chicken from the supermarket. I use it for roast chicken, chips and salads for dinner. I also make chicken bowls with rice noodle, lettuce, carrots, onions any salad you want, you can use any sauce you like. Then chicken salad rolls for lunch and chicken wraps. You can shred any left over meat and freeze it for later uses. If I want chicken noodle soup I put the bones in a slow cooker and cook for a few hours. Then strain the bones out keeping the chicken stock which goes back in the slow cooker. Take the excess meat from the chicken bones and put back into the chicken stock. You just need to make sure there are no bones left. I add extra stock or salt just taste to make sure the base flavour is right. Then add veggies I use carrots, parsnips, turnips, Swede and onions and zucchini. Cook in the slow cooker for a few hours. About 10 mins before it’s ready I add 2 minutes noodles chicken flavour add the flavour pack too. You can use any noodles you like they may just take longer to cook. You can freeze excess into portions.


u/Coolidge-egg Mar 12 '23

Go to the food bank


u/AtomicMelbourne Mar 12 '23

I’m in my mid 30s, have plenty of money and this is my lunch every single day and I love it; 1 banana for morning tea and 1 can of 90c tuna and 1 apple for lunch. All up it only cost around $2 a day until 6pm when I have dinner. But I love my lunch, and love that it helped me get to a wonderful money situation. It has also kept me in fantastic shape, when many people my age start to put on the kilos.


u/MaryN6FBB110117 Northside Hipster Mar 12 '23

You eat canned tuna every day? You’re not worried about mercury levels? I love tinned tuna, but all the nutritional advice I’ve seen says not to eat it more than 2-3 times a week because it’s so high in mercury.


u/AtomicMelbourne Mar 12 '23 edited Mar 12 '23

I’m no nutritionist, but I doubt one of those little cans of tuna is something to be concerned about. Also if Eskimo’s can live off predominantly fish as a whole meal I’m sure I will will be fine. There was a time where health authorities advised pregnant women to eat modest amounts of tuna. But a small amount daily would be of little concern to most other adults. I see so many people smashing bad food and sugary drinks, and personally I know I drink too much alcohol, so there are other things to be more concerned about. But I get mistaken for someone in their early to mid 20s all the time which I assume is in part because of my diet. Edit: I just read up on it on “health digest” they said even pregnant women can have a can a day. and that it would take 3 cans a day for it to be a concern to most adults.


u/MaryN6FBB110117 Northside Hipster Mar 12 '23

It was not a concern previously because fish didn’t have such high levels of mercury previously. These days, with ocean pollution levels like they are, they do. Especially tuna.


u/modcon86 Mar 12 '23

Sorry to hear that about your situation. The good thing is learning to cook is fun and you are rewarded for learning for the rest of your life!

I'd visit https://www.taste.com.au/ or https://www.recipetineats.com/ for some starting points.

Might be useful to write a rough weekly list and plan what you will make.

Pasta, rice, potatoes are good cheap foods that go with many meals. Lentils and beans, canned are great for protein and fibre and keeping you full. Any vegies can go with a whole range of cuisines and will provide taste, colour and and nutrition. You can add in some chicken, lean mince or often white fish for cheap.

Cook two meals at a time so you have the next day sorted.

It's worth learning about different groups of spices and flavourings to make the meals taste delicious and move away from bland stodgy meals.

E.g. Italian, might be basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram. Indian might be cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, garam masala.

Just googled and something exists, like this https://www.cookinglight.com/food/world-cuisine/spice-world


u/AsparagusSpirited Mar 12 '23

https://youtu.be/7gCvNw_HYjk highly recommended this lady :)


u/ne3k0 Mar 12 '23

Curries. Soups. Pastas. Lentils. Tofu is very cheap too of you like it. Cottage pie. If you go to an Asian grocery they have cheap and better quality curry pastes. Get the basic dry goods from aldi. Don't buy frozen meals. You could make and freeze a pasta bake quite cheap with minimal effort


u/Kaelani_Wanderer Mar 12 '23

Look up simple spaghetti recipes and make batches; coles lean mince (as little fat as possible) and coles brand pasta, cook individually, cooking the pasta til Al dente, then serve up a couple of scoops of pasta and 2-3 spoons of meat and sauce (premixed of course), then put the remaining pasta and meat/sauce away in the fridge after it cools. Boom, dinner for 2 nights or more xD


u/AussieBob4 Mar 12 '23

Onions, garlic in a pan...Minced turkey...chillies... cook that hell out of it, salt pepper...then stir in a small can of crushed tomatoes...can get two meals out of this treasure...be creative...add bits and pieces to it ..boiled sweet potato...throw in a few boiled peas... Walllaaaahhh.


u/Various_Day9289 Mar 12 '23

Go to your local fruit shop for your fruit & veg - miles cheaper, better quality and less profit going to Coles.


u/Necromater Mar 12 '23

Very sorry to hear of your situation. But the cheapest weeks shopping I suggest in a lean budget is, big bag of rice, pasta, peanut butter spread, soy sauce, cheap bags of frozen mixed vegetables, mortadella ham sliced 200 grams, loaf bread, bag of chickpeas and or split peas, Pasta sauce, tinned tomato soup, chicken stock, margarine, salt, pepper, honey.

With this you can make sandwiches with the peanut butter or mortadella. This could cover breakfast and lunch. Dinner, you can make larger batches of food and eat it over a few nights.

Cook the rice in the chicken stock instead of water. The cheap one litre stock could cook 2-3 cups of rice fairly easy. Add a cup of vegetables to the cook. Taste test the rice to cook its cooked. If cooked properly you won't need to drain the rice. Add salt and pepper if needed, or soy sauce. Tasty and very cheap meal.

Your pasta cook as needed and only the amount you will eat in a sitting. Once the pasta is drained, add a couple of large spoon fulls of pasta sauce. Doing will really stretch these food out. You can add a cup of vegetables when cooking the pasta to increase the nutritional value.

The tomato soup is the easiest, add 2 tin full lots of water and simmer to heat. Dip the bread in the soup to make it more filling.

Only buy meat when it's on special. Chicken breast is especially great on a budget. Mixed up honey and soy sauce together to make an instant marinade for the chicken. 1 part honey for 4 parts soy. Mix together with the raw chicken until it all covered and fry it up. It's awesome.

Let me know if you need any more information.


u/HaroerHaktak Mar 12 '23

Rice + veggies is usually alright in a pinch. Wash a cup of rice, until the water runs relatively clean. Cook it up. Boil/steam some veggies. And enjoy. You can top it up with some sauce and you've got yourself a decent meal. There's not much difference between this and a stir fry tbh.


u/Coffeemakesmepoop97 Mar 12 '23

Sorry to hear about being kicked out, but I will one up your request and suggest searching Joshua Weissman and KWOOKs' 30 minute meals. I recently found KWOOK is useful for smaller budgets. Good luck!


u/Ok_Sympathy_4894 Mar 12 '23

Pasta/rice/noodles with frozen veggies and change the sauce up. Make your own Asian inspired sauce, melt cream cheese, use a passata, use jar pesto.

Use tuna, minced meat, or just pick a random meat that is on special to have with it.


u/the_salivation_army Mar 12 '23 edited Mar 12 '23

Go the chicken curry first half of the week, don’t bother freezing it.

Chicken breast or thigh half KG

Mae Ploy mix from coles


Baby corn

Two tins of coconut

Start by sautéing the Mae ploy then just chuck the rest in when you cut it up. Add a bit of salt and maybe a little bit of sugar. That’ll get ya Sunday through Wednesday until you’re sick of it.

It’s awesome if ya find thigh meat.


u/Antipotheosis Mar 12 '23

Quick oats to make porridge. boxes of long life milk last far longer than regular milk and in porridge it tastes the same anyway. Add to the quick oats your choice of spices (I like nutmeg and cinnamon), honey or maple syrup if you want it sweet, and perhaps crushed nuts or sultanas, raisins, sliced banana or anything else that will turn it into a tasty meal. You can prepare it on a stove top or a microwave.


u/Fawksyyy Mar 12 '23

All great advice here, Always watch the price per X. Eg - Basic candy is 1$ per 100gram or potatoes is 10c per 100gram.

I host a small group of mates and my goto amazing and cheap feed is potatoes, carrots, onions in a deep dish with a few cups of water and stock, 2 chooks on top and ill make a few loaves of bread. Feeds 8 people for $35 with a few kg of each vegetable left over.

In contrast a cheese platter for 8 just for nibbles before the main course is costing more than that.

I make a 50$ spaghetti sauce (takes 4 hours to make) that i freeze in sandwich bags 1 per serving and i will normally get 40-50 bags out of a batch. You can eat amazing great tasty and nutritious food for cheap but it takes time, try finding ways to enjoy cooking will be the best motivation to eat well and cheap.


u/shovelbison Mar 12 '23

Have a look at your local youth centre (most councils run them), they will have access to a foodbank and often have programs to help young people with life skills such as cooking budgeting etc.


u/kalamata0live Mar 12 '23

My cheap meal yesterday was from Aldi and I'm stoked. A pack of basa fish fillets (frozen $8), bag of rice (jasmine $3) and a bag coleslaw mix ($2). The fish have about 8 pieces and will last in the freezer. Also, salt and pepper the fish, lightly dust in flour and shallow pan fry. The rice I put chicken stock (the powder) when I boil it to give some flavour.

Aldi also have yum butter chicken, satay and curry sauce jars. Buy bulk chicken thighs and some veggies and freeze portions. It will be your life saver when you have cbf for cooking. I also freeze Bolognese sauce too


u/b1gn1ckers Mar 12 '23

Consider that a frozen meal is good for one meal only. Most things we buy at the supermarket pre prepared are the same single use. Start with a basic mince and even a tin of tomatos or tomato soup for sauce. A packet of cheap pasta and you have a meal for a few days. The tinned soup or even a tin of tomatoes has multiple other uses as well and as you learn, add more ingredients, mushrooms, herbs and different cheeses, to make it better and begin to understand flavours rather than relying on a prepared pasta sauce that leaves you guessing. Two minute noodles, rice, potatoes, flour, sugar, lots of basic staples that you will learn to cook multiple things with.


u/ChazzWazzing Mar 12 '23

What suburb are you in?

Are you in a flat, or crashing with a friend?

What cooking facilities do you have access to?


u/AnonnyLou Mar 12 '23

Do you have access to Aldi? You will save money if you get groceries there, just be very disciplined about not buying things from the centre aisles. Also, ask on your local community Facebook about the best fruit & veg shop in your area for cheap prices. If you buy in-season fruit & veg there, they will cost up to half the price of Coles, and will be better quality.


u/[deleted] Mar 12 '23

Meat is expensive. Cut down on it. Pre covid, I’d only do 1-2 meat meals a week and the rest were veg only. Things like:

Veg pesto pasta Veg burrito bowl Frittata Stir fry’s

Search key words like meal prep on IG/tik tok, lots of decent Aussie creators logging in cheap meals


u/Notyit Mar 12 '23 edited Mar 12 '23

Go to your community Facebook and ask for food.

There are lot of places that give out food.

Or dumpster dive.

Go to supermarket wait till chicken gets discounted the roast then buy.

Freeze the one for latter and use that.


u/Suzuzuz Mar 12 '23

I used to make this chickpea curry back when I was broke, and I still make it all the time - it’s my favourite meal.

You’ll need these multiple use items (probably $25?? But will last a while and can be used for a bunch of things)

Oil Cumin powder Chilli power Turmeric powder Jar of crushed garlic Jar of crushed ginger Basmati rice

And these single use items (probably $10-$12 as there’s almost always a brand of tons on sale)

  • 1 onion
  • Some corriander
  • Normal sized Tin of chickpeas
  • Big Tin of crushed tomatoes

Plus an optional item:

  • Plain Yoghurt

What to do:

  • Put a bit of oil in a pan (a tablespoon or two)
  • add a diced onion, cook onion for a bit.
  • add some of the garlic and ginger
  • Add spices from your jars (cumin, chilli, corriander, turmeric) - I put the right amount for my taste but start with about 2 teaspoons of cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, half a teaspoon of turmeric and chilli to taste)
  • cook off the spices (ie: push them around with the onions, garlic, ginger and they will start to look a bit like a paste) -add your tin of chickpeas (drain the liquid out first)
  • mix around
  • add ton of crushed tomatoes
  • add half the corriander all chopped up
  • let it simmer and stir occasionally
  • add the rest of the corriander at the end
  • serve with basmati rice and a dollop of plain yoghurt

If you can’t afford fresh coriander or yoghurt you can leave out and you could add other spices and experiment with it.

It costs about $15-$17 to make all up (more if you have yoghurt) but will do for about 4 meals and is nicer the second day. I have for lunch/dinner 2 nights in a row. So about $4 per serve and super filling.


u/Suzuzuz Mar 12 '23

Also plain 2 minute style noodles or fresh egg noodles from the supermarket fridge if they are on sale, with a couple of cups worth of frozen veggies (get what’s on sale or cheap) We have a jar of semi-fancy chilli oil with shallots and stuff in it and literally just mix a bit of that in to the noodles/veggies and it’s yum and takes about 2 minutes and costs about $5 including multi-use chilli oil (which is the most expensive bit but makes it nice).


u/zaprime87 Mar 12 '23

Teach yourself the basics for making your own flavourful food.

Basic Bechamel Sauce, Mirepoix, Soffrito and the basics of a few curries. This will cover most of the sauces you could want.

I periodically make up a big batch of Bolognese and pesto which I portion and freeze. Meatpies are also easy - packet of frozen veggies, beef chunks, potatoes, gravy. Egg wash for sealing the prebought pastry sheets. Bake and then freeze them. Easy and nutritious dinner.


u/dragzo0o0 Mar 12 '23

“Mexican” bean wraps/tacos - one of the few things my kids eat without complaining)

Can kidney beans Can black beans 1 onion Mexican spice mix (you can make your own, plenty of recipes) Tortillas / wraps / tacos Salad / cheese / sour cream / whatever Olive oil

Drain and rinse the beans in a colander Finely dice the onion (hey, you can leave the onion out if you really want to)

Heat olive oil in a pan Add the spice mix and stir for 30 seconds Dump in the beans. Stir. Reduce heat slightly Add 20-50 mls water (stock works better but I’m being cheap here) Stir Repeat - takes about 7-8 minutes to thicken up.

You can also add grated carrot before the beans and soften those. Have a play, but it’s simple.

Also if you have a cheap Kmart pie maker the beans will make decent pies (as long as you add cheese on the top layer)

Is it exciting ? No. Is it Mexican ? No. Is it cheap and filling ? Yes


u/sleighballsRing Mar 12 '23

If you’re looking for something super basic with cost in mind, below is a good start/some ideas. Of course you can sub stuff out for things you like or if price permits

Breakfast - eggs on toast with ham 1x box dozen eggs $7 1x loaf of bread $2 350g ham $5 Total $14 = $2 per breakfast per week

Chicken or tuna wraps 1x packet 8 wraps $5 300g chicken thigh or breast (coat in Mexican seasoning and fry) $3 3x tins tuna (different flavours) $4 2x tomatoes $2 1x cucumber $2 1x bag of spinach $3 Total $19 = $2.70 per lunch per week

Pasta 250g beef mince $4 1x can lentils $2 1x can tomatoes $3 1x pack celery $3 1x bag carrots $2 1x onion $1 1x packet Spaghetti $2 Total $17 = $4.25 per dinner

Chicken stir fry 400g chicken breast or thigh $4 1x packet frozen veggies $5 1x onion $1 Total $10 = $2.50 per dinner

Chicken curry 1x jar curry simmer sauce $5 400g chicken breast or thigh $4 Total $9 = $2.25 per dinner

Seasonings/condiments (these will last for multiple meals) 1x bottle oyster sauce $3 1x jar garlic $3 1x jar ginger $4 1x bag rice $3 1x tube tomato paste $3 1x jar Italian seasoning $2 1x Mexican seasoning $2 1x tub Butter $3 1x jar oil $3 1x salt/pepper $4 Total $30

Freeze the dinners you won’t eat right away and save for later. Also these prices are just going from the top of my head so are estimates but I don’t (and hope) think it’s too far off. Good luck with everything


u/sleighballsRing Mar 12 '23

SOS formatting


u/Impossible_Soil_2799 Mar 12 '23

As someone who has just finished uni, I’ve been on a tight budget for a few years. Some of my tips below: - rice and pasta are your best friends. You can buy 10kg bags of rice which will last literally months. Home brand pasta is less than $1 a bag too - if you have a slow cooker, use it. Or find one cheap on marketplace. You can cook delicious, hearty meals with the cheap cuts of meat, potatoes and some stock. There’s a ton of recipes out there for this and they are all incredibly easy to make - meals like chicken pesto pasta, spag bol are very simple, very cheap and very tasty. I like to chuck some vegetables in for health, you can make a big batch and freeze too :) - when buying vegetables, Woolies have the “odd bunch”. Much cheaper and nothing wrong with them - buy in bulk where possible, and buy home brand where possible. A few dollars here or there can really add up when the budget is tight - tinned tomatoes are a really cheap base for many meals. You can find these for less than $1 a can - soy sauce is an easy way to add flavour to some chicken and rice - spices like paprika, cumin, garlic powder etc are easy and cheap ways to add flavour as well - oats with some honey is a filling breakfast and 1kg of oats is only about $2 - finally, I don’t have experience with this but there are food banks that you can access for help. Given your age and situation, I would contact them and see what they can do.

Good luck OP!


u/dubaichild Mar 13 '23

I agree with all of this but just wanted to say at Coles at least homebrand pasta is now $1, the bastards


u/dubaichild Mar 13 '23

Check out recipetineats for meals involving meat, and cookieandkate for vegetarian ones. Vegetarian meals where you use beans, veggies, lentils etc will be a lot cheaper than those that use mock meats and are still very tasty and filling.

I would recommend things like tinned tuna or buying meat on Tuesdays at Coles when it's marked down and freezing it if you can, then defrosting it the day you're going to cook it. That will keep the longest and it will be a lot cheaper. I do it for chicken, but have also done it with mince and beef.

If you have an Asian grocer or a non bougie market (ie yes to Dandenong or Preston, no to South Melbourne or prahran) near you the veggies are usually cheaper and very fresh, and you can buy tinned goods and stuff like polenta, lentils, dried beans super cheap too. I don't do any veggie shopping at Coles anymore, supermarkets have become my place for things like toiletries or specific items.


u/savagegoodboi Mar 13 '23

I make a good & nutritious vego chilli:

1 x onion 2 x cloves garlic 1 x finely chopped capsicum (optional) 1tsp paprika 1tsp ground cumin 1tsp brown sugar Lil bit of cinnamon 1 x tinned chipotle (I freeze these individually) 2 x tins lentils 2 x tins black beans 1 x tin corn 1 x tin crushed tomatoes 1 x tin butter beans 1-2 cups stock 1tsp cacao powder added towards the end - this is the secret (formerly secret) ingredient & adds richness.

Sweat off the onion, garlic & chipotle, then add the dry spices and a little stock so you don’t scorch the paprika. Rinse and add your tinned foods & stock and simmer.

This is good for maybe 8-12 serves & should cost less than $20. I usually have it in tortillas with some salsa & guac, but you can eat it on nachos, with rice or just on its own too. If you can’t afford the spices, DM me & I’ll send you some $.


u/edhoonnu Mar 13 '23


Please try cheaper buy miles. You can get wayyy more of a particular item than your supermarket, just that it’ll be a little closer to expiration date, but still perfectly good to eat. Box pasta for instance will cost you 1/3rd of what you pay at your store.


u/Skiicat777 Mar 13 '23

Korean egg rice.


u/rob_080 Mar 14 '23

I'd recommend trying a meal delivery service like Marley Spoon or Hello Fresh. I get 3 meals per week, which is 6 decent servings, or 9 slightly smaller but still ok servings. I usually cook one night, have leftovers the next and then the third serving for lunch the following day. If you get 4 meals then you're basically set for lunches and dinners all week.

As a single bloke, I find them pretty helpful - they offer a choice of meals each week, they send you exactly what you need so there's no waste and provide easy to follow recipe cards. So long as you have access to basic kitchen stuff and can follow a recipe, it's a good starting point.

It's arguably cheaper to go to the Supermarket, but for the convenience of having basically everything you need sent to you for $85 a week (for 3 meals delivered) it's a winner.

Once you've built up a few of the recipe cards and have a range of meals and experience, then you can revert to supermarket shopping and start to play around - you get a sense of what works and what doesn't work and how to vary things to your taste.

If this interests you, I can send you a link for a free box of meals and 25% off 3 more boxes for Marley Spoon.


u/PhoenixAshes977 May 03 '23

Some staple things I pick up almost all the time as someone on a tight budget (all of these from Aldi); Chicken Mince 500g - $4.99, Pork Mince - $3.99, 1kg Brown Onion - $2.99, Canned Corn Kernels - $0.99, Tomato Paste 500g - $1.39, Canned Chickpeas and Canned Blackbeans - Both are $0.95 a can, Tinned Diced Tomatoes (400g) are around $1 too, Pasta 500g - $0.89, Frozen Broccoli - $2.99 (although it seems to be out of stock a lot), Frozen Spinach 250g - $0.89. Other cheap things to bulk out meals are carrots, normally under $2.50 for a 1kg bag, Hot Dog Frankfurts are around $2.29 and are a base ingredient for a cheap bulk meal prep meal called Hoover Stew. Here's a recipe for it: https://www.thefrugalnavywife.com/hoover-stew-recipe/. Emmymade on Youtube also did a video about this recipe too so that's worth a watch too since I think she prepares it better than the recipe above.

A lot of that base stuff I listed can be dressed up quite a few different ways depending on what flavour profiles you like. It really easy to throw in a red sauce and use it as a base for Bolognese (i also really like the sauce on some baked potatoes (pretty cheap in bulk too), grilled on toast. You could also throw in some cheap taco seasoning (I like the salt reduced one from Aldi) and have with pasta (or baked potatoes again), in burritos (you can add rice as to bulk this out too and can meal prep and freeze these as well). With the protein options you could super easily cook them up and just add to 2 minute noodles, along with some frozen veg (this is where i really like to add in frozen spinach)

Hopefully you get to see this, I know your post was a month ago but as someone else on a really tight budget (and trying to keep higher on protein where possible) and feeding 2 people these really help me and I thought it might help you as well. Wishing you the very best xx