Food Challenge


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She can feed a family of four for just $120 a week, and wants everyone to know how it's done.

Going from employed to unemployed, battler to blogger, and amateur cook to author, the past two years have been a whirlwind for super saver Sandra Reynolds.

Two years ago the jobless mum of two was forced to feed her family on a measly $9 a day.

"I went to the Salvation Army, and she gave me two $60 vouchers from a local supermarket, designed to last for two weeks," Reynolds said.

Her desparation spawned a food phenomenon, and now 1.5 million householders are following her quest to feed hungry families cheap but nutritious meals, and that success is now translating to print.

Now off welfare, and allowing for food price increases, the thrifty mum has revised her budget, promising families of four can be fed fresh, tasty meals for just $120 a week.

Her book is full of seasonal recipes:

Vietnamese chicken meatball soup - $9, or $2.25 per serve
Corn fritters with pear and spinach salad - $10, or $2.50 a plate
Boston baked beans - $12.80, or $3.20 per person, with plenty leftover
Thai beef salad - $10, or $2.50 a serve.

"I'm saving about $40 to $50 a week," mum of three Tara Mills said.

Mills is a Food Challenge convert, after following Reynolds's top tips:

prepare a household budget
set a food allowance
do a pantry stocktake
write a fortnightly menu

"It is the cheaper cuts of meat, it is seasonal vegetables, it is a lot of beans and pulses, it is cutting out the processed food and the frozen food, and it isn't dessert every day," Reynolds said.

More stories from reporter Jackie Quist

With the average grocery budget now nudging $200 a week, Reynolds claims families can save up to $80.

Her advice is to:

shop once a fortnight and always use a list
buy generic where possible
purchase fresh food in season
buy wholesale or bulk

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"Just by portioning it out, and freezing it separately, you can save significant dollars on each kilo of meat," Reynolds said.

"There are some cracking recipes in here. Some of the pictures are great as well, and some of the recipes, really simple, and the best thing of all - they're healthy," Celebrity chef Adrian Richardson said.

"It's all about taking that extra little bit of time to think about what you're going to cook, and prepare it. I think once you start making some beautiful dishes, that will inspire you to make more," he added.

"A lot of people will say it can't be done, but I promise you, you will save money," Reynolds concluded.

The $120 Food Challenge by Sandra Raynolds is now available at Target, Big W, K-mart and Dymocks.