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$10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings

Posted by Cheese Lover 
$10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 29, 2015 11:58PM
Here is a thread to write down your meal plans and/or recipes and costings for the challenge.


A dinner meal for four people, costing under $10.00 Must be a proper meal ie not a bowl of weetbix or hot chips.

Try and cost it out the best you can, let us know if you are using garden or foraged produce.

The point is to share some cheap nutritious and tasty meals.......

Here is the other thread for further information...... we did increase to $10.00

Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 30, 2015 12:59AM
I make this regularly. I have used prices from the Countdown web site (beef from Aussie Butcher) and Countdown is certainly not the cheapest place to shop, so this would come in well under $10 if the shopping was done at P & S or even NW..

To serve 4 adults

1. Keema of Beef and Lettuce

50g butter @$3.99 for Mainland .40
2 large onions (400g) @ 1.70 p kg .70
spices, garlic, ginger from pantry .50
450g minced beef @ $9.99 p kg 4.50
400g tin tomatoes .80
2 lettuces from the garden say 1.00
125 ml plain yoghurt (Gopala $3.29 per 750ml) .55

2. Silverbeet from garden say .50
Ginger, garlic, chilli, salt, butter 1.00

3. Basmati rice 250g @ $3.99 p kg 1.00

Total $10.95

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/30/2015 03:27AM by TPANDAV.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 30, 2015 02:13AM
Curried noodles -singapore style
Approx 170g dried noodles - 1/2 pkt - fantastic noodles $1.40

For the sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
Crushed dry red pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar,
½ teaspoon vinegar, optional
1 tablespoon mushroom flavored soy or substitute with soy sauce
$2.00 from pantry for sauce ingredients

For the noodles

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 heaping teaspoon garlic paste (use a mortar and pestle or grate in a microplane)
1 heaping teaspoon ginger paste (use a mortar and pestle or grate in a microplane), 1.00
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks. 50c
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips $1.60
1 head broccoli, cut ino small florets $1.00
1 tablespoon sesame oil. 50c
Chopped cilantro for garnish from garden

Now this comes in around $8, so you could add a bit more veg or a little left over meat or tofu or a few more dried noodles to take to the $10 mark.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/30/2015 02:14AM by Karen.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 30, 2015 02:25AM
Karen, this sounds really lovely. I have three questions: Would it make much difference to use ordinary dried egg noodles? Are garlic paste and ginger paste the same as crushed garlic and crushed ginger available in jars commercially? And, is crushed dry red pepper the same as red pepper flakes? And if so, where are these available? I've seen a lot of recipes which include red pepper flakes but have never seen them in the shops. Thank you in advance!
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 30, 2015 04:06AM
Hi mommamurf, I think the noodles are more the dried egg noodles not the two minute style, if that makes sense. At pns they sometimes sell fresh noodles, which I also use.
I just crush garlic and grate fresh ginger, but use pastes if that is what you have on hand. (I buy fresh ginger and store in freezer, and finely grate as needed.)
The chilli flakes I buy at the asian stores, but you could use any chilli I am sure.
After all the prep it is a quick cook tea. And is definately a dish you could use up bits of veggies in the stirfry to clear the fridge.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 30, 2015 04:31AM
Thanks Karen and Tpandav for getting us started. They both look like achievable and healthy meals. I will likely do mine on the weekend ...I have two ideas and hope I can come in at around the right amount.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
April 30, 2015 04:39AM
This is a dish my family loves, chicken pie, it is using a large fresh chicken that sometimes come on special at $11. Which we would eat half the meat one evening, and save the rest for this pie.

Chicken 6.50 -using carcuss to boil with an onion and bayleaf to make stock
2 large onions. 75
Seasoning s&p

Dried parsley, sage, etc .50

Flour. 50
Butter. 75
3 -4 slices bread. 75
50g Cheese. 50
3 tbsp cream. 50

Make a stock using the carcuss with an onion.
Make a sauce by sauteing an onion in some butter add flour add stock, add herbs and finally stir in cream. Although I have forgotten in the past! Season

Stir in shredded chicken, pour into oven proof dish. Whizz bread to make crumbs add butter and grated cheese to make a crumble topping.

Now if the budget allowed add veggies to mix. Or if you have less meat use to bulk out.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 02, 2015 06:03AM
Hmm tried to post to this thread - for some reason I am just getting a forum error when I try to post
Helen let me know if you get my email


Nm - Fixed! smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2015 03:12PM by Sunday.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 02, 2015 03:11PM
Three Spicy vegetarian menus - I have a meaty one that I will cost/cook this weekend.

Shakshuka with Homemade Crusty Bread and Salad

6 eggs 1.62 (not free range)
1 red pepper 2.49
2 cans diced tomatoes 1.60
spices 50 cents (chilli, cumin, paprika, cayenne)
garlic 1 clove 5 cents
One onion 17 cents
Olive oil 1 Tablespoon 10 cents
salt and pepper
Chopped parsley - free (self seeded all over the garden)

Total 6.48 (could add more eggs if your pan is big enough, I usually find one egg is enough for me and one for my son - husband will generally eat 2 - which leaves 2 more eggs for someone else.)

The bread is as below and costs 85 cents for three loaves.
Salad of Fennel and lettuce + one orange 40 cents - lettuce and fennel from garden.

Grand Total 7.23

Spicy Red Curry Lentil and Coconut Soup and Homemade crusty bread.

2 cups red split lentils $1.00 (500 grams is $2.00 - this is just countdown but lndian grocers and bulk bin places are cheaper)
1 onion, finely chopped $17 cents
1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch dice $2.49
1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped, including seeds 13 cents ( in freezer bought a bag of 15 for 2.00 - asian grocer)
1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger 50 cents
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 10 cents ( I buy some fresh bulbs but I buy very large jars of prechopped garlic from the asian grocer which is much cheaper for uses like this where fresh doesn't matter so much )
1 tablespoon thai curry paste 20 cents ( buy 500 grams for 3.50 at the asian food market this makes quite a spicy soup if your family is not keen on a bit of heat - reduce this or just use a mild curry powder )
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon -
2 teaspoons salt -
1/3 cup tomato paste 80 cents
7 cups water (can use stock if you want but water is fine)
1 can unsweetened light coconut milk $1.80
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas 1.69 (dried and soaked overnight then cooked is way cheaper)
Parsley to garnish from the garden - free - this self seeds everywhere I don't even need to replant it now.

Serves 8 generously

You could halve this amount and make it more cheaply but I like to make this much and freeze half. If I wasn't sticking so closely to the $10 limit I would add in some chopped chunks of kumara or leftover chicken if I wasn't feeling like a vegetarian meal. This soup is actually very filling and tasty. High in protien

Total 8.88

Pane veloce (85 cents makes three small and very delicious loaves)
Flour 500 grams 66 cents
yeast 1 tspn 17 cents
1 teaspoon of sugar 1 cent
1 tspn of salt 1 cent
warm water free

Grand Total $9.73 for the bread and soup.

Paneer Matar with Rice and Poppadoms

2 cups of sliced onions 34 cents
1 tsp of minced garlic 10 cents
1 tsp of grated ginger 30 cents
1 tsp of red chilli powder 5 cents
2 tsp of coriander powder 5 cents
1/2 tsp of cumin powder 3 cents
1/2 tsp of turmeric powder 3 cents
2 cans tomatoes $1.60
1/2 cup of cashew nuts, soaked in water for 30 mins $1.00 ( buy broken pieces from lndian grocer for less)
1 heaping tsp of canned tomato paste 30 cents
3/4 cup of frozen green peas 30 cents ( I usually use more like a cup)
1.5 cups of cubed paneer 4.00 ( homemade with homebrand milk at 3.39 + one lemon)
1 pinch of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) 5 cents
1 tsp of garam masala 10 cents
1 tbsp of cream ( omitted can be subbed with 1 T of milk used for the paneer)
1/4 cup of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), for garnish ( omitted - hate this stuff)
2 tbsp of canola oil 50 cents

Total $8.75 - serves 4-6 hungry people
In reality this amount does my family of two adults and one child 2 dinners and one lunch. It freezes well. Sometimes we'll team it up with parathas and or a beef keema and cucumber raita. Last night we had it just as written though.

Serve with 1 cup of rice - cooked for a half cup serve of rice per person and poppadoms (1.80 a packet of 30)
Grand Total comes in just over $10.50

A very good exercise in thinking about food costs.

Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2015 03:50PM by Sunday.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 04, 2015 03:14AM
Wow Sunday these look terrific. I was planning to do my meal tonight but had unexpected visitors, so it will be tomorrow. I am deciding on a chicken curry with rice, a pasta meal or a frittata. I think I can do these for under $10 but we will see about the reality.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 04, 2015 04:15AM
Those do look great Sunday and if my family weren't so fussy I'd be keen to give at least one of them a go. However, Mr 8 is currently going through a "I don't like anything on my plate but the meat" phase so I suspect he would be a lost cause.........

Tried my costings and dish tonight and it did come out slightly more expensive than I thought it would. I could have cut back the meat portion but had no other plans for the remaining sausages so just used the lot. There was a little leftover at the end of the meal too. The dish was a pork and egg fried rice. I managed to get a great bargain from Hellers a couple of weeks ago with a packet of 6 free range pork sausages for $2.60! Another packet still in the freezer but I wish I had bought more of them now. I have used prices from either Countdown site (the cheapest brands generally), or what I paid for them (the saussies, some veges). This is a great dish for clearing out leftover veges at the end of the week and any scraps of meat lurking in the fridge.

300g basmati rice $0.99 (I'm guessing the base amount - actually used leftover cooked rice which I put into bags in freezer if I have surplus after rice meals - just for dishes like this one! Approx 3 cooked cups)
3 carrots $1.12
3 spring onions $1.00 (say half a bunch)
3 celery stalks $1.00 (say third of a bunch)
6 free range pork sausages $2.60
1 green pepper $0.99
1 tblspn sweet chilli sauce $0.13
1.5 tblspn soy sauce $0.14
1 tbspn kecap manis $0.28
4 tbspn rice bran oil $0.51
3 free range eggs $1.25
Total $10.01

I did make some more savings by using veges in our garden so saved on spring onions, celery stalks and used our own chooks eggs. So technically $3.25 off that total would bring me under the $8 mark.

Miss10 loved this dish and asked why I don't make it more often? Mr8 only liked the meat and eggs and ate the some of the rest with much protesting, sighing and carrying on. Hubby and I had multiple helpings but I prefer my regular version which has prawns instead of sausages.

Photo pork and egg fried rice

The sausages were cooked by taking the meat out of the casings, slicing up and cooking in the wok before breaking up a little more into smaller bites.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/04/2015 04:20AM by cantabcook.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 04, 2015 09:14PM
Mine was slightly over but I figured I could probably get a cheaper tin of salmon, or use slightly less.

What a great exercise...I was surprised that is came in at $10 for a family meal!

Salmon leek and spinach pie


Serves 4-6 people

50g butter (33c)
1 leeks sliced into thick rings 1.50
1 415g tin salmon , drained (399c)
150g frozen spincah (10balls) (1.00) (I usually defrost the spincah and squeeze out extra water)
4 sheets filo pastry (1.55c)

Cheese Sauce
25g butter (30c)
¼ cup of flour (10c)
1 cup milk (55c)
1 cup cheese, grated $1)


Preheat the oven to 180

Cheese Sauce: In a large pot, melt the butter, add the flour and stir to a paste and the paste is bubbling. Add the milk little by little to make a thick white sauce. Add the grated chesse and stir for a few more minutes. Season. Set aside.

In a frypan heat the butter, and add the sliced leeks. Stir and fry until softened.

In a baking dish, add the salmon to the bottom, add the spinach on top, evenly distributed, then add the leeks (and any leftover cooked vegetables) Pour the cheese sauce all over.

Lay the filo pastry sheets over the top of the pie, brush with melted butter and bake for 30minutes until golden.

Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 05, 2015 12:03AM
Cantab I never thought about freezing leftover rice! What a great idea, I can imagine it would be just fine for fried rice. I have a couple of very large pork and fennel sausages that I think I will add to fried rice this week, thanks for the inspiration.
I know how you feel with one child that is a little choosey - of my 4 kids I had one that was so tricky to cook for but the one that I have left here (10 years old) at home is more than happy to eat most things and quite adventurous with his eating - so it means I can pretty much cook what I want as long as it doesn't involve avocado, kumara or salad dressing smiling smiley

Ingrid that pie sounds delicious, I was looking at a can of salmon in the pantry thinking it might get turned into fishcakes, but I think your pie sounds way more delicious. I think that can go on the menu too for next week smiling smiley

I have one more thing I wanted to make
a meatball/polenta dish - lets see if I get a chance to make it tomorrow. If not I'd be keen to cook and cost it another week. Pretty sure I can make that come in under $10.00 - or close!

It would be interesting to make it even tougher for ourselves. Go to the supermarket with $10 cash and only be able to cook with that 10 - pretending you have an empty pantry - except for salt - pepper and oil. There are people in NZ that have to cook with that or less every week. It's really quite tricky to make something nice for that amount even when you have cooking skills if the cupboard is bare.
I remember for a very short period in my life (fortunately for me), I was newly on my own with two kids a massive mortgage and my contract at work had come to an end. I was flat broke and having to cook for myself and two children.
My son came home from school asking me for a can of food to take to school for the kids that didn't have any food - I gave him the last can in the cupboard wondering if I was going to be heading to the food bank the next day to "reclaim" it.
Somehow we got through and that didn't last long but I know for some people that is an every day reality, that short experience has made me very mindful of the cost of food and making the most of what you have with minimal waste.
I'm enjoying the challenge and very grateful that it's not a reality I have to live with now.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 05, 2015 03:19AM
Those meals sound great Ingrid and Cantabcook.

My meal will be cooked tomorrow night, ingredients purchased today. It will be interesting to see if the meal goes far enough. I am making a Thai Green Curry with chicken, buttercup, and peas, served with rice. The buttercup was $1 and I think I will only need half of it, peas are reasonable, and I got a good deal on coconut cream and a sachet of curry paste. The chicken will be skimpy though to get in under the $10.00. It could be cheaper to make the paste, the sachet was $1.19?

I freeze rice all the time, it is great for Fried Rice, which I considered doing for this challenge.

Sunday, I agree. I purchased a 5kg bag of rice. Of course if you are on a very tight budget you cannot take advantage of bulk buying. Also things like soy sauce or a bottle of oil may also be a stretch. Once you are set up these sorts of condiments or ingredients add to your meal. But if you don't have them food can be very bland.

I wonder if Helen could link to these meals as a reference point for forum readers. There may be able who read but don't participate in the forum who could benefit?
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 06, 2015 02:36AM
Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, Great deals for $10 meal menus.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 06, 2015 02:54AM
Cheese Lover Wrote:
> Sunday, I agree. I purchased a 5kg bag of rice.
> Of course if you are on a very tight budget you
> cannot take advantage of bulk buying. Also things
> like soy sauce or a bottle of oil may also be a
> stretch. Once you are set up these sorts of
> condiments or ingredients add to your meal. But
> if you don't have them food can be very bland.

I think this is an important point to note, and take into consideration when donating to food banks etc. Herbs, spices, sauces and other flavour adders can make a basic diet more tolerable.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 06, 2015 05:16AM
Do shop around as regards the spices, the asian stores are much cheaper, and generally have a good range of spices. I know some even sell non branded rice in the different varieties that maybe cheaper, haven't checked but will do next time I pop in.

Also I did a price test running my pak n save shop through the countdown online shopping, I had saved about $22 for a week.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 06, 2015 05:47AM
I made my meal tonight, sorry no pics as I am coming down with a virus, I costed to $10, give or take 50c.

One sachet green curry paste 99c
One can coconut cream 1.19
One buttercup, diced $1.00
Peas 40c
Rice 80c
Splash fish sauce 10c
diced chicken breast, not free range $5.40

It was filling and tasty, and visually appealing with green, orange and cream colours.

Normally I would use more coconut cream, more chicken and add red pepper and beans instead of frozen peas and butternut.

The rice, peas and pumpkin are good buying. You could roast the pumpkin and make a biryani dish with different spices and the remaining chicken that was left over ($5.40 worth).... I have lots of rice and peas left. Or your could do a stirred rice risotto style dish. Of course I bought. Jasmine rice which is not what you use for risotto or biriyani but it would still be tasty.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 06, 2015 10:16PM
It is Wednesday so a week since the challenge. Thanks to all participants - Karen, Cantabcook, Sunday, Tpandav,Ingrid and Griz for your contributions. I will definitely make some of the recipes.

We could continue the challenge in another form or do it again, does anyone have any ideas how to tweak it a little?

I think $10 a head was about right, my initial thought of $8 would have been limiting, yet I am aware how middle class that sounds. I'd be up to either do it again or another version.

I think there were some good points made:

- Spices and condiments and sauces make a basic meal appealing.
- Bulk buying reduces the cost but may not be possible for those on a budget.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 07, 2015 10:20PM
I wonder if we could run this one once a month ? It would slowly build up a nice bank of cheap recipes. It's a shame we can't " sticky" this thread. There are always people looking for cost effective meals.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 07, 2015 10:37PM
This all makes interesting reading. I cook for one and have some foods I can't eat but I can see I can adapt some recipes.

One thing that I noticed was a comment that shopping at Pak n Save will make it cheaper and another that Countdown would be. I buy very little food at supermarkets, preferring the local market, butchers and bakers. For me, I have found Pak N Save to be dearer than Countdown but I suspect it is not for those with families. I find the sizes of many things just too large.I do love the Aussie Butcher but they are not south of the BOP.

Keep up the good work.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 07, 2015 11:35PM
Thanks and welcome Kay!! I shop around a bit - sometimes Pak N Save, sometimes Countdown, sometimes New World, plus a local butcher and greengrocer. I find Countdown do a lot of 2 for $3.00 type deals which are a good deal IF you need both items. I find the greengrocer mostly the cheapest for fruit and veges......but not always. I love our Farmers Market but don't find it cheap, probably the likes of the Avondale Market would be if I lived in Auckland.

I agree lets try and do it once a month.... I have a couple of other ideas I would like to try out.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 11, 2015 07:24PM
I am working out how best to give these recipes longevity and access on foodlovers.
If I copy and paste recipes with relevant images into a homepage feature that stays on the homepage permanently and is added to as required would that be useful or would you rather see them here?
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 11, 2015 09:03PM
I think there is interest in tried and tested recipes and I will post a similar challenge again in a couple of weeks as I have a couple of even more basic recipes I would like to add. I can't speak for the others but from my perspective whatever works for you.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 11, 2015 11:55PM
Helen whatever works best- I do think that there are a lot of people out there that would like to be able to access cheap eats either regularly or even just when people are feeling the pinch. It's really lovely to have such a community effort with this one smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/11/2015 11:56PM by Sunday.
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 12, 2015 03:37PM
A homepage access would be great if it was possible Helen. I know I will be wanting to refer back to some of these recipes again as I'm starting some voluntary work helping with meal planning, cooking meals and budgeting. The ol' memory isn't what it used to be so the more chances I have of finding something in a search the better winking smiley
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 14, 2015 06:59PM
Looking forward to the next challenge. I thought $10 was a good amount to use - wasn't too limiting. Would we continue with this thread? or a new post?
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 15, 2015 04:09AM
I find myself mentally costing out meals as I make them. I bought a weeks worth of vege and fruit for $30 today and was thinking about how to make each thing part of a meal - wondering if I could keep it under $10.00 I think this challenge is going to be really good for my pocket smiling smiley
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 15, 2015 05:07PM
Ha ha Sunday, I've been doing the same! Went meat shopping yesterday and was looking for bargains but even only using the garden veges don't think I could come in under $10. Sunday I'm planning to do a dish I make regularly so I'm planning to cost that and see what comes out - could be close!!
Re: $10 Meal Challenge - Menus and Costings
May 15, 2015 06:26PM
I know!! It is hard but not impossible. It is certainly easier if the meal has a larger starchy component and a smaller protein component.

I will post a new link on Monday for a repeat challenge, unless Helen would prefer us to keep adding to this one and keep it all in once place.
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