Be a Budget Eater

As Hunger Month comes to an end, we hope the campaign has brought awareness to the many people right here in South Africa that are in need of meals, and through our partner, FoodForwardSA learnt how we can reduce food wastage by redirecting it to the right channels, which in turn also helps the environment. Isn’t it inconceivable how people and families in our country, live off so little each month?

Like the old adage, “Charity starts at Home”, we also wanted to share methods that you can avoid food wastage in your home and look for ways to save on your food, to improve your monthly budget.

Our resident nutritionist, Monique from Nutritional Solutions, shares her best tips:

Be a Budget Eater – by Monique Piderit

More than 60% of South African female shoppers report that they consider costs when grocery shopping. Soaring food price hikes in South Africa mean we need to make eating on a budget, while being healthy, top of our priority list.

Food Wasted = Money Wasted

When you plan, you are more likely to eat home-cooked meals and buy fewer snacks, treats and convenience foods, all of which are expensive. A grocery list will help avoid impulse purchases. Stick a piece of paper onto your fridge and write down what food you need as it runs out. Take a photograph of this list and of the inside of your fridge and grocery cupboard to remind you what you have available at home and what still needs to be bought.

Save more by using material bags or leave reused plastic bags in your car and handbag. Shop on a full stomach to avoid adding to your grocery bill as hungry shoppers are more likely to buy unhealthy foods, as opposed to shoppers who are tired or stressed out.

Love Your Leftovers

More than one in five adults in SA eat outside the home more than once a week and more than two in three South African teens eat expensive fast foods at least three times per week. Leftovers are the perfect budget-friendly lunch and help avoid wastage. Cook enough that there are leftovers. When you dish up for dinner, portion leftovers straight into a container for lunch the next day. Second helpings are not necessarily good for the waistline.

Bulk in Buy

Be on the lookout for foods that you can buy in bulk and won’t spoil, such as tinned foods (pilchards, tuna, chickpeas, beans, lentils and vegetables), starches (rice, pasta, samp, oats, pasta) and long-life milk. Look out for specials at Food Lover’s Market like 2kg each potato and onion combo packs and share with friends and neighbours. To add even more bulk without increasing cost, bulk up mince or rice dishes with lentils or add chickpeas or beans to stews and soups.

Local is Lekker

Seasonal fruits and veggies are more affordable as the food doesn’t need to be imported at a huge cost. While it may be more convenient, food that is washed, sliced, diced or chopped is more expensive. Take 15 minutes over the weekend and prepare all your fruit and veg for the week.

Cook once, eat twice

Cook one main meal component that can easily be reworked into other interesting meals, or frozen for another day. Flake leftover fish and bind with mashed potatoes and/or sweet potato to make fish cakes. Mince can be served as spaghetti Bolognese, cottage pie or on toast for breakfast. Roast a whole chicken and make chicken mayo sandwiches, chicken salad or stir fry, or add chopped chicken to homemade vegetable soup.

Pricey Proteins

Beef, chicken and fish tend to contribute the most to our food bills. Get more from your mince by adding lentils. Add volume to soup and stews with beans and chickpeas. Consider going meatless one meal a week with eggs, dairy, and legumes, which are as good for you as they are for your wallet.

Sure, some healthy foods may be more expensive but that doesn’t mean health needs to need to be compromised. Instead of fresh salmon, try tinned pilchards and sardines at a fraction of the price. Everyday fruits like apples, pears and bananas are equally rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants compared to more pricey berries and mango.


Lentil Bake with Gem Squash and Baby Carrots

  1. Steam or boil 500g cubed butternut/pumpkin (whichever is cheaper) until done and mash.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp. canola/olive oil in a pan and sauté 1 chopped onion until clear but not brown.
  3. Add 2 tsp paprika, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp curry powder, 2 x 410g tins of lentils (drained), ½ 410g tin whole tomatoes and 2 Tbsp. tomato puree to onions.
  4. Mix with mashed butternut/pumpkin and season with salt, pepper and sugar.
  5. Place mixture in an ovenproof dish or bread pan.
  6. Beat 3 whole eggs with ½ cup low-fat milk and pour this mixture over the top of the lentil dish.
  7. Make small holes for an egg to drain into the lentil dish.
  8. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes until the mixture sets and browns.
  9. Serve with gem squash and quick steamed frozen carrots. Makes 6 – 8 portions.


  1. Hoosain E, Dwane N, Reddy P, Jacobs L, Shisana O, Labadarios D, et al. The South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2012: SANHANES-1. Cape Town: HSRC Press; 2013. (Available from:
  2. Feeley A, Musenge E, Pettifor JM, Norris SA. Investigation into longitudinal dietary behaviours and household socio-economic indicators and their association with BMI Z-score and fat mass in South African adolescents: The Birth to Twenty (Bt20) cohort. Public Health Nutr. 2012;16(4):693–703.
  3. Tal A, Wansink B. Fattening Fasting: Hungry Grocery Shoppers Buy More Calories, Not More Food. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(12):1146-1148. Doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.650.

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