Mums whose simple meal prepping tricks help them save $2,500 per year on food share top food swaps

Two Melbourne mums who save $2,500 per year on their grocery bill by being clever with shopping and meal prepping have shared their top tricks to help you save big in the kitchen.

Former chef Jen Petrovic and her friend Gaby Chapman realised how expensive food shopping is, when they decided to come up with some simple ‘hacks’ to cut down their weekly family spend.

From their clever ‘4+2+1 meal prep formula’ to choosing cheaper cuts of meat and opting for block cheese, the experts and food authors shared the tricks you need to know.

Two Melbourne mums who save $2,500 per year on their grocery bill have shared their top tricks to help you save big in the kitchen (Jen Petrovic and Gaby Chapman pictured)

Two Melbourne mums who save $2,500 per year on their grocery bill have shared their top tricks to help you save big in the kitchen (Jen Petrovic and Gaby Chapman pictured)

They recommend you cook four meals each week, take two from the freezer (pictured) and make one simple meal using leftovers to save some money; this is the '4+2+1 formula'

They recommend you cook four meals each week, take two from the freezer (pictured) and make one simple meal using leftovers to save some money; this is the ‘4+2+1 formula’

1. Try the ‘4+2+1 formula’

How does the 4+2+1 formula work?

FOUR

* Make four meals from scratch each week and make two of these double-up meals where you double the ingredients on two meals and freeze them for later. The second two meals from the four should be ‘fast and fresh’ meals that take less than an hour total.

TWO

* Have two ‘foodbanked’ meals from the freezer each week, which just require you to add something like rice, pasta or vegetables.

ONE

* Make one meal super easy and just enjoy leftovers or something super simple to whip up like an omelette or eggs on toast. The advantage to this is anyone in the family should be able to make it.

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The first and most important thing you should do is try their ‘4+2+1 formula’, which means you won’t be cooking or shopping as much.

‘The 4+2+1 formula means you cook four meals each week, take two from the freezer and make one simple meal using leftovers,’ former chef Jen Petrovic and her friend Gaby Chapman told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘By only having to cook four meals from scratch, you can save so much time and also have tasty, healthy home-cooked meals without the daily “what’s for dinner?” stress.’ 

This formula, the experts explained, helps you to save money as you are cooking and therefore shopping less regularly. 

‘The four meals you are cooking each week should include two double-up meals for the freezer,’ Jen said.

‘You should choose meals that freeze well for these meals, like chicken and lemon tagine or Italian meatballs.’

2. Shop once a week with a list in hand

Jen and Gaby recommend you come up with what you’re going to want to eat that week in your 4+2+1 formula before you go to the supermarket, and then only go once in the week.

‘Make sure you shop just once a week to save both time and money,’ Jen said.

‘The average Australian family shops three times a week or more, and this not only takes up so much time, but it also gives you more opportunities to buy things you don’t need.’

The mums said you don't always need to buy chicken breast or eye fillet, as often the cheaper cuts of meat will do just as good a job (pictured)

The mums said you don’t always need to buy chicken breast or eye fillet, as often the cheaper cuts of meat will do just as good a job (pictured)

3. Use cheaper cuts of meat

The mums told Good Food that you don’t always need to buy chicken breast or eye fillet, as often the cheaper cuts of meat will do just as good a job. 

‘Having some great recipes that use beef shin (often labelled as ‘gravy beef’), pork neck (often labelled ‘pork scotch’) or chuck steak rather than eye fillet and other expensive cuts can make meat more affordable,’ they explained.

They might require a longer cooking time, but they often give off great flavours.

For low cost meals, the pair recommend looking for recipes that incorporate minced chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, veal or beef.

These will help to keep your food bill low.

4. Buy block cheese

While it may be convenient to buy cheese pre-grated, Jen and Gaby said you can save ‘about $5 a kilo’ by buying block cheese and doing the slicing, cutting or grating yourself.

They recommend making it a family activity and getting your kids involved with the cooking too.   

Jen and Gaby explained you can save on fresh fruit and vegetables by buying the ugly ones, often described as 'The Odd Bunch' in Woolworths (pictured)

Jen and Gaby explained you can save on fresh fruit and vegetables by buying the ugly ones, often described as ‘The Odd Bunch’ in Woolworths (pictured)

5. Buy the ‘ugly’ vegetables

Jen and Gaby explained you can save on fresh fruit and vegetables by buying the ugly ones, often described as ‘The Odd Bunch’ in Woolworths.

‘They taste the same but may not look as perfect as the full-priced equivalent,’ they told Good Food.

For this reason, they are often heavily discounted. 

Make at least three of your meals meat-free each week and you'll notice the total of your food bill come down dramatically (meat-free meal pictured)

Make at least three of your meals meat-free each week and you’ll notice the total of your food bill come down dramatically (meat-free meal pictured)

6. Reduce your meat consumption

Make at least three of your meals meat-free each week and you’ll notice the total of your food bill come down dramatically.

The mums’ favourite dishes are bean quesadillas, vegetable lasagne, chickpea curry or vegetable stir-fry. 

Avoid the meats that come deliciously pre-marinated and make your own at home with a few fresh ingredients

Avoid the meats that come deliciously pre-marinated and make your own at home with a few fresh ingredients

Their Plan Buy Cook Book is available now (pictured)

Their Plan Buy Cook Book is available now (pictured)

7. Make your own marinades

Avoid the meats that come deliciously pre-marinated and make your own at home with a few fresh ingredients.

Jen and Gaby said usually they just need essentials like salt, pepper, extra Virgin olive oil and lemon juice, and this can mean big savings. 

8. Get wholegrain cereal

Finally, the pair said wholegrain cereal is much better value than regular cereal. 

‘You get twice the amount of cereal in a standard family-sized box for about a third of the cost by weight of its sweetened counterparts,’ they said. 

The mums’ book, Plan Buy Cook Book, is available at all good bookstores, in Kmart, Target and Big W, or online from Booktopia in Australia or internationally through Amazon.

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