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Do you and your family enjoy eating family meals together?

But are you finding it hard to stick to your monthly food budget? Do you have a monthly food budget?

I am always looking for budget-friendly meals to cook for my family. Food prices are expensive in South Africa.

One of the best ways to save when you go grocery shopping is by planning your meals for the month or the week if you dont think you can plan your meals for the month. I find it works better if I plan my meals for the month. It does take some planning, but the more you plan your meals, the quicker you become at doing so.

Getting back to family friendly budget meals.

What do you normally eat for breakfast, lunch, and supper? Do you just have boxed cereal with milk for breakfast, or do you have toast with your favourite spread?

Do you have leftovers from dinner at lunchtime? Or do you grab a cup of soup or a chicken salad if you work 9 to 5?

Supper: do you cook a new meal for supper every night, or do you eat leftovers from the previous supper meal?

If you plan your meals, especially what you and your family are going to eat for supper, then you can batch cook and freeze portions for another supper or even for a lunchtime meal.

Do you snack during the day between meals? What kind of snacks do you eat?

What types of foods does your family enjoy? Try to buy foods that your family enjoys eating. This can help you waste less food because your family enjoys the meals you cook.


Meat tends to be a more expensive food item in most parts of the world. I know it is expensive here in South Africa. Yes, there are cheaper cuts you can buy to add to meals.

If you do buy meat, look for specials on the cuts that you and your family enjoy eating. I often buy corned/salted beef to cook in the slow cooker. I use the leftover meat to make sandwiches and a supper meal with rice, gravy, and vegetables.

Chicken is a great alternative to red meat, but be careful and check the price of the cut of chicken. Is the chicken skinless with the bone out? You tend to pay more for chicken pieces with the skin and bone removed.

Soya can be added to mincemeat or stews to bulk up the meat. I enjoy making soya with vegetables and eating it with rice or pasta. You can buy chunky or fine soya.

Beans: I really enjoy eating beans and find tinned beans very useful when cooking all sorts of meals. You can add beans to your stews, have beans on toast with a fried egg in the morning, add beans to your cottage pie, or even add beans to your cheese sauce for your lasagne or mac and cheese. Just make sure to use beans that are light in colour.

Tinned fish is another versatile food item. You can make fish cakes, pasta bakes, or creamy fish pasta with cream cheese and capers.

Pasta you can do so much with pasta, and there is a variety of pasta you can use when cooking family friendly budget meals. And pasta does not take long to cook, plus so many kitchen items go with pasta. Think garlic, tomatoes, basil, thyme, eggplant, chopped-up boiled egg, mincemeat and soya.

Okay, let’s have a look at family friendly budget meals for the whole family to enjoy.


Oats in milk with cinnamon and mixed spice. I put the oats in the fridge overnight and then cooked it on the stove in the morning. My kids love the oats and it has a yummy taste with the cinnamon and spices added in. You do not have to add the spices if you dont want to.

Porridge When I was growing up, we often had porridge in the morning with milk and butter, and sometimes, I would add a cut-up banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon with sugar.

Plain yoghurt with fruit. It’s better to have fruits that are in season. These should be much cheaper than fruits that are not in season. Plain yoghurt tends to add way less sugar.

Scrambled eggs on toast. You can add sliced tomato, chopped-up spring onion, or fresh herbs. Experiment to find out what your family likes in their scrambled eggs.

Omelettes can be filled with cheese and onion or just cheese, bacon and cheese, or mushrooms and cheese. Again, experiment with different fillings in your omelette. Have it with toast and sliced tomato.

French toast, you can have it plain or with syrup. Believe it or not, my kids love having tomato sauce on their fresh toast. And they call it eggy bread.

When I was growing up, I enjoyed toast with mayonnaise and grated cheese with chillies. This may not be the case for everyone, but I still enjoy toast with mayo and cheese.

I enjoy eating tinned tuna, to which I add finely chopped onions, chopped raw garlic, thinly sliced fresh ginger, mayo/cream cheese, and mashed boiled egg. I mix it all together and have it with fresh bread or toast. I have it with toast in the morning or even as a snack or crackers. I always brush my teeth before I leave the house to meet people or pick up the kids from school.

Tinned tuna with boiled egg, thinly sliced tomato and cream cheese. Add salt and pepper. Thinly sliced spring onion gives it a nice touch.

Tinned beans on toast with a fried egg. You can fry onion, garlic, and tomatoes, then add your tinned beans. You can also have it with fresh bread.

Tomaote, cheese sarmies. You can add onion and cold meat if you want.

Hashbrowns with eggs, be it crumble, fried or poached.


Lunchtime is not a big meal for my family. During the week, I fetch the kids from school, and then we have to go to extra mural activities, so it is something light or quick to make.

I also make batch meals that I freeze and then just reheat in the microwave for my kids to eat for lunch.

I make lasagna double and freeze portions for later meals. I add lots of vegetables, such as green and red peppers, tomatoes, onions, grated carrots, and mushrooms. I also add garlic and tinned tomatoes. You can add white beans to your cheese sauce that you use in the lasagna layers.

Macaroni and cheese is a firm family favourite. I always add onions, mushrooms, and cheese. I also add sliced tomato and then grate some cheese over the tomato. You can add the cheese and then the tomato if you prefer.

Chicken schnitzel is another tasty family favourite. I serve it with rice/chips and vegetables. My family enjoys a creamy mushroom sauce I make from scratch on top of a thin slice of cheddar cheese. I use panko crumbs; I buy a large packet of panko crumbs and store it in the fridge or freezer.

Beef schnitzel is delicious with creamy mashed potatoes, peas, onion, and beef gravy. Broccoli and cauliflower also go well with it. I do not use an expensive cut of meat; I buy tenderized steak.

The beef and chicken schnitzel can also be a supper meal.

Beef sausages with mashed/boiled potatoes and vegetables with beef gravy.

Chicken livers with fried onions, mash, vegetables and gravy. Chicken livers may be strong in flavour for some people, but it is a cheap option, and you can even have chicken liver burgers.

Ramen bowl: my son loves having this after school before I take him to extra murals in the afternoons. Cook cut-up carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers in a beef or chicken broth. Once the vegetables are soft ( not mushy ), add the ramen noodles. Once the ramen noodles are ready, the meal is ready.

Pizza—okay, this is a lunchtime or suppertime meal. There are so many choices when it comes to what you can add to your pizza. I only add three or four toppings at most. I like keeping it simple: cheese, bacon, garlic, cheese, chicken, and green pepper. Experiment with different toppings to find out which your family enjoy most.

Another way I save money on food costs is to make my own pizza dough. This way, I also know what is in my pizza dough. Once you get the hang of making pizza dough and have a recipe that works well, you can confidently make your own pizza dough and save money.

I make a few pizza bases and freeze some for another time.


There are many lunch and supper meals that you can have for either meal.

Slow-cooked corned beef with potatoes, green peppers, carrots, herbs, and spices. The nice thing about corned beef is that you can eat the leftovers the following day, such as yummy corned beef sarmies with mustard and cheese. You can also make corned beef hashbrowns.

Like with lasagna, you can add lots of vegetables to the meat base for spaghetti bolognese. I add grated carrots, tomatoes, garlic, celery, green peppers, and beef stock.

Chicken curry and rice with roti. When cooking your chicken curry, add potatoes, carrots, peas, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chillies, and spices. Everyone has their own favourite curry recipes.

Beef stew with vegetables can be served with rice or mash. I use a cheap cut of beef and slow-cook the beef for a few hours, so it is nice and soft.

Spaghetti with onions, garlic, peas, a boiled egg grated, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. My family and I often eat this meal, and it is quick and easy to make. You can also add some cheese sauce if you want to. Experiment with the basic recipe and add what you and our family enjoy.

Spaghetti and meatballs. My kids love their meatballs with cheese in the centre. You can also have the meatballs with herbs and fresh garlic. When making the meatballs, add an egg.

Sausage with mash, boiled/steamed carrots, peas and beef gravy. You can have beef sausage or pork sausage.

Soya with vegetables served with rice or roti.

Oven-baked chicken with herbs, potatoes and vegetables.

Stuffed peppers with mincemeat rice and peas. You can play around with different stuffing combinations.

Creamy chicken cheese pasta bake with peas.

Tinned beans with green peppers, onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, tomato, spices, and crispy bacon. You can have this as a meal or a side. As a meal, have it with rice or mash. I have it the following morning on toast with a fried or boiled egg.

Peri peri chicken livers with mash or rice. For a bit more of a kick, add extra garlic and chillies.

Chicken nuggets with chips/rice, broccoli and cauliflower.

Savoury mincemeat with vegetables. Serve it with rice or pasta. You can use half mincemeat and half soya.

Chicken wrap with salad.

Quesadillas: You can experiment with so many fillings to see which flavours your family loves most in their quesadillas.

Bunny chow, a South African dish.

Lamb neck curry is my favourite meal. I enjoy it with crusty bread or roti. Depending on where in the world you live, lamb is cheap.

Pasta with shrimp, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper. You can add a little bit of stock to the pasta.

Tinned soups. Stocking up on a variety of tinned soups is a good idea. I often make tinned soup for supper. I fry some onions, garlic, herbs, and bacon, and then I add the tinned soup. You can also add beef, chicken, or vegetables. I find this makes the meal tastier and makes the soup go further.

Boerewors rolls. Another firm is a South African favourite. I love to have fried onions and a tomato relish when making boerewors. You can cut the cooked boereword in half to make it further. Have the boerewors rolls with chips and salad.

Chip roll. Maybe you dont really feel like cooking. A chip roll is quick and easy to make. Add finely chopped tomatoes, onion and herbs on top of the chips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Steak roll. You do not have to use an expensive cut of steak. You can use stewing meat or tender steak for the steak roll.

Ribs are tasty when cooked in a yummy marinade. Honey and mustard, beef barbeque, and hot and spicy are only a few marinades you can try.

Easy crumbed chicken nuggets with panko crumbs.
Easy chicken nuggets with panko crumbs.


What family friendly budget meals do you make that your family enjoys?

Do you plan before you do your monthly shop, or do you buy as the month goes by? Planning can help you save money because it helps you know what you need to buy and what you already have.

Before I do my monthly shopping, I go through the kitchen cupboards to check what I have and what I will need for my meals for the next month. I also check my fridge and freezer to see what food items I am running low on and will need to buy.

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