Frugal Food Friday

Frugal Food Friday: What we ate on no-buy week.

frugal food fridays

In my last Financial Report, I mentioned a no-buy week. It’s a fairly new thing to our household so I thought I’d document it on the blog. Basically, I’m way too ‘good’ at shopping at the grocery store. I love to stockpile because I hate being caught out without. I’m not quite to the extent of the stockpiling mums that appear on A Current Affair, but I do have drawers and cupboards in my garage of food because I like to buy in bulk. (My excuse is that the fewer trips I have to make to the grocery store saves me time and petrol. Plus everytime I go into the supermarket, the chances of me coming out with stuff I don’t actually need is very high. Stockpiling is cheaper.) So a no-buy week encourages us to think outside the box, or sometimes, just use what we actually have.

I thought it might be interesting to see the meals we came up with for a no-buy week! The only thing would be that a no-buy week seems quite lacking in fresh green leafy vegs but with some planning in future, I reckon I could cheat my way around that (which probably defeats the purpose, hah.)


Sunday: Korean Army Stew

I didn’t actually take a photo of this version of our army stew but here’s a photo from some of my previous meals where I cooked it. This looks like a lot of food but this particular one fed 4. One was taken before the stock went in, and the other was obviously after the stock and noodles went in. It’s a fantastically easy meal to prep and it being the start of the week we had leftover bok choy and mushrooms from the week before.

Important pantry staples that I always have: Dried Shiitake mushrooms (they are amazing for just about anything, including stock making), UHT tofu (for that last minute tofu dish), spam (we grew up with luncheon meats, sorry I know many aussies find them gross but most asians love them to bits. We love the hot & spicy varient!) and dried noodles. We tend to have kimchi in the fridge too, and gochujang (korean hot pepper paste). (side note: my husband hates most meat but he will eat spam and minced beef/pork. He’s fairly picky!)

korean army stew

This dish is a fantastic dish to generate lunches too. So with one army stew, we can usually obtain 6 – 7 meals out of it. A very rough estimate would put the cost of this meal at under $2 per meal with the assumption that you are buying your spam at 50% off (we do.)

Monday: Tuna Pasta Bake

I’m sorry the photo is quite mediocre. I never seem to be able to get a nice photo of pasta bake and our pasta bake this time came out quite pale. But we stocked up on Tuna cans when they were really crazy cheap sometime ago so usually have it in a pasta bake. We added broccoli (that I freeze when we get cheap broccoli), corn kernels (bought in bulk from costco), loose pasta, mushrooms, celery and topped it with probably way too much cheese. We had lots of different cheese in the fridge from the week before so this was a great way to use it all. Top it with a ton of chilli flakes and away we go. Great for generating lunches!

Tuesday: Hamburg Curry

Again, I apologise for the terrible photo. I like my hamburg curry rice to be drowning in curry, so that’s really all you see apart from more corn kernels and a blob of butter. Hamburg curry rice is a Japanese dish where you have rice, hamburger patty and Japanese curry. Corn and butter is essential. Important Pantry/Freezer Staples: corn kernels, minced beef / pork, rice and japanese curry. Again a meal that is fantastic for generating lunches. When we have burgers or hamburg curry, I will always make our patties in bulk and freeze. Like so:

Each patty is about 150g and contains all manner of herbs, onions and garlic. It also has a cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle. Shhhh. When it comes time to cook, I thaw the frozen balls and squish them down as they cook. I always buy mince that’s been marked down as well or direct from the farmer.

I freeze them all in Tupperware’s Freezer Keeper which has been one of my best buys of 2017. Before this we were chewing through way too many ziplock bags, and random takeaway containers were often breaking off after being kept in the freezer for too long. I got the family set on 50% off at the EOFY sale.

Wednesday: Chicken Thai Green Curry Pie

On Wednesday we had a medical appointment which meant we got home later than usual. So we thawed out this pie:

Out of all the frozen pies you can get at the supermarket, Vili’s are the only one I will eat because they are the only brand that taste decent (imo). This was the perfect size for the both of us and at $4.55, it was a great price! I always buy marked down products as much as possible.

We ended up having leftovers for Thursday and Friday. Saturday became noodle soup day because we ended up not following the meal plan. Noodle soups are the best things ever. I always have dried noodles on hand, frozen homemade dumplings, frozen kale, dried mushrooms and homemade stock paste so it’s super easy to throw something healthy together just from things in the fridge / freezer / pantry. Add a shredded egg omelette on the top and you would never know it was just something you ‘whipped together on a whim’.

No buy week taught me that the only thing really lacking is leafy green vegs but I do still try to throw in celery, kale, broccoli and cauliflower into our meals so it’s not completely void of vegetables. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the freezer / fridge for every month’s no-buy week! We actually eat lots of vegs normally so seeing so little veg in this week’s meals have been quite a surprise!


As usual, if you want recipes for any of the above, let me know and I will post them up.




2 thoughts on “Frugal Food Friday: What we ate on no-buy week.”

  1. Pia, what is UHT Tofu? Where do you buy it from?

    I should buy and cook with more tuna. Tuna pasta bakes are yummy; adding veg helps to make them healthier (until we, like you, add way too much cheese.)

    I’ve never heard of Hamburg Curry. Is that the Japanese curry that comes in a solid block? That’s really yummy. I’m not sure about the lump of butter, though. What does it do for the dish?

    You did so well for the no-buy week, a real variety of meals. We are mostly living week to week now. Rather than a no-buy week, I need to look at what’s in the cupboard and make sure it is incorporated into the next weeks meal every three months or so.

    Sorry for all of the questions. I’d like the Hamburg Curry recipe, please.

    1. UHT Tofu is shelf steady tofu that is long-life and can be kept in the pantry. We use fresh tofu mostly but always have UHT tofu as backup because I hate having to drive out just for one item. Maybe I will do a post with photos next time of my pantry staples so it’s easier to recognise things when you see them. You can get UHT tofu from Coles in the asian aisle.

      Hamburg curry is Japanese curry that you get in a block, over a hamburger patty. So not much of a recipe really! We don’t buy the ones you get from Coles, those aren’t that nice. We get Vermont Curry as it has the best flavour. We also add our own other ingredients in such as chilli, diced carrots and potatoes etc. I should have put a disclaimer on, that lump of butter is my husband’s weak point and I took a photo of his meal as mine just looked like curry as I like to drown mine good and proper. He will eat butter off the spoon! I don’t normally add butter to mine, but he loves it with his curry and corn. The Japanese do sometimes add butter but definitely not remotely near that much. You can definitely make Japanese curry from scratch and we do that sometimes. But we always have a block of this in the pantry.

      I did like doing the no-buy week, thanks for the compliment! We do try to make sure we incorporate things but my pantry is full of staples because we are lazy people and hate running out of things, haha. I also like that it forces me to exercise creative thinking skills instead of just following a recipe.

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