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Thrifty mum's budget family meal: how to make your own honey chicken at home using a cheap Aldi buy

An Australian mum-of-two has shown how she made her own $5 at-home version of honey chicken using a budget buy from Aldi. 

The Adelaide home chef whipped up a super-cheap ‘fake-away’ using Aldi’s $3.59 tempura chicken nuggets, honey and steamed rice. 

She impressed hundreds with her extremely budget-friendly meal after she shared it to popular Facebook page Aldi Mums.  

An Adelaide home chef shared how she whipped up a honey chicken 'fake-away' for just $5 to feed her family of four

An Adelaide home chef shared how she whipped up a honey chicken ‘fake-away’ for just $5 to feed her family of four

The thrifty mum topped the crunchy tempura nuggets with a drizzle of honey to create a similar experience to those you’d try at a Chinese restaurant.

‘When you’re on a budget and the kids want honey chicken!! I know it’s not the healthiest but it’s so good!’ she wrote in a post.

‘ALDI tempura chicken nuggets topped with honey and steamed rice $5.00 dinner, one adult and two kids.’

The bite-sized crunchy snacks caused a stir when the supermarket giant re-released them last year, causing shoppers to rush to get their hands on a packet.  

The tempura-coated nuggets have a health star rating of 3.5 stars out of five and are made with Australian chicken breast.

For her budget meal, the mum-of-two used Aldi's popular $3.59 tempura chicken nuggets topped with honey and served with steamed rice

For her budget meal, the mum-of-two used Aldi's popular $3.59 tempura chicken nuggets topped with honey and served with steamed rice

 For her budget meal, the mum-of-two used Aldi’s popular $3.59 tempura chicken nuggets topped with honey and served with steamed rice 

Many group members in the comments were wowed by the simple and affordable take-away dupe and others were sharing their similar lazy dinners. 

‘Those nuggets are amazing!!!! Awesome in their air fryer and some out all crunchy and yum!!!’ one woman exclaimed. 

‘Ohhh! I hadn’t thought of putting honey on the nuggets! I have to give it a try!,’ wrote another.  

‘I’m sure the kids loved it. Sometimes when I can’t be bothered I get chicken pops and heat up sweet and sour sauce and have with steamed or fried rice,’ replied a third while another suggested adding a sprinkle of sesame seeds over the top. 

‘I’ve done similar with chicken pops and lemon sauce,’ explained another member.

Amid rising cost of living more Australian parents are sharing the budget ways they’re feeding their families. 

One mum revealed how she feeds her family-of-five for as little as $3.70 a head without compromising on nutrition or flavour. 

Lee Dias, 38, from the south coast of New South Wales feeds herself, her husband, their five-year-old daughter and one-year-old twins for just $160 a week. Pictured: Spinach, Ricotta & Sweet Potato Lasagne costing $2.15 per serving

Lee Dias, 38, from the south coast of New South Wales feeds herself, her husband, their five-year-old daughter and one-year-old twins for just $160 a week. Pictured: Spinach, Ricotta & Sweet Potato Lasagne costing $2.15 per serving

Lee Dias, 38, from the south coast of New South Wales feeds herself, her husband, their five-year-old daughter and one-year-old twins for just $160 a week. Pictured: Spinach, Ricotta & Sweet Potato Lasagne costing $2.15 per serving 

Lee shares her top tips on grocery budgeting to her 23,000 Instagram followers. Pictured: Chicken schnitzel with $10.45 total for four lunches

Lee shares her top tips on grocery budgeting to her 23,000 Instagram followers. Pictured: Chicken schnitzel with $10.45 total for four lunches

Lee shares her top tips on grocery budgeting to her 23,000 Instagram followers. Pictured: Chicken schnitzel with $10.45 total for four lunches

Lee Dias, 38,  from the south coast of New South Wales feeds herself, her husband, their five-year-old daughter and one-year-old twins for just $160 a week.

She shares her top tips on grocery budgeting to her 23,000 Instagram followers with her delicious recipes including sweet potatoes with chicken schnitzel, potato salad, lemon chicken noodle bowls and honey pepper BBQ pork steaks.

The influencer says she use to ‘randomly shop’ without much of a plan, but once she started organising she saved more than ever before. 

Her delicious recipes including sweet potatoes with chicken schnitzel, potato salad, lemon chicken noodle bowls and honey pepper BBQ pork steaks. Pictured: Chicken Rice Bowls for $1.25 per bowl

Her delicious recipes including sweet potatoes with chicken schnitzel, potato salad, lemon chicken noodle bowls and honey pepper BBQ pork steaks. Pictured: Chicken Rice Bowls for $1.25 per bowl

Her delicious recipes including sweet potatoes with chicken schnitzel, potato salad, lemon chicken noodle bowls and honey pepper BBQ pork steaks. Pictured: Chicken Rice Bowls for $1.25 per bowl

San Choy Bau Rice Bowl (vegetarian) which cost just $7.32 to feed two adults and three children

San Choy Bau Rice Bowl (vegetarian) which cost just $7.32 to feed two adults and three children

San Choy Bau Rice Bowl (vegetarian) which cost just $7.32 to feed two adults and three children

While she allocated $160 to spend a week, often it comes at just $100 – which is just $2.85 per head per day.   

She always avoids shopping week-to-week, checks the pantry before going to the supermarket and uses less meat. 

Feeding a family of two adults and three kids can be challenging at times, but Ms Dias has a passion for food and shops at numerous leading supermarkets for the best deals. 

Lee’s top tips for saving money on groceries  

1. Don’t shop every week

Ms Dias’ ‘biggest budgeting tip’ is to avoid visiting the supermarket every week and buy items that are on special.  

‘Try buy multiple items when they are on sale and keep a little stockpile at home to get you through until it goes on sale again,’ she said. 

‘If something you use goes on half-price-sale, buy a few. It can take a little time to build a stock pile, but doing a little each week will help build that pantry and freezer stock.’

2. Use less meat

Ms Dias also opts to use less meat to feed her family, which she says is better for their health, budget and the environment.  

‘We love our food, and love meat, so we just reduce the amount in each meal,’ she said. 

For example, rather than buying chicken thighs and cooking the entire packet, she divides the amount into smaller servings then freezes it for another date.  

3. Try new recipes and prepare meals using similar ingredients 

As the price of groceries is skyrocketing due to inflation, Ms Dias suggests trying new recipes using similar ingredients. 

‘It reduces wastage if you don’t need the whole pack for one recipe, and it can reduce the grocery bill by buying things in bulk,’ she said. 

The family enjoy Vietnamese-style foods, including roast vegetable cous cous, topped with a seasoned chicken thigh, and lemon mayonnaise. 

Like thousands of other families, Ms Dias is worried about the rising cost of living.

When her family expanded from three to five, she decided to become a stay-at-home mum, reducing the income to one salary.

‘The biggest hit for us recently has been the rise in mortgage repayments, soaring fuel prices, and grocery price increases,’ she said.

‘I am having to rely on the freezer and pantry stockpile more and more, but as I do that, it will slowly run down, without me having the ability to shop the specials to keep it at a good sustainable level.

‘If it continues, I’ll need to explore different meal options, and reduce the grocery bill more and more to get by.’

A report recently found almost all (98 per cent) Aussie grocery shoppers have noticed an increase in the overall cost of items like petrol, groceries and household bills compared to previous years, with over four in five (81 per cent) concerned about the affordability of living costs in the next year. 

In fact, Aussies are most worried about grocery affordability (51 per cent) second only to petrol (59 per cent). 

Surprisingly, only one in 10 (9 per cent) of Australians have switched supermarkets as a strategy to save money despite statistics showing shopping at multiple stores is the best method for saving. 

 

The influencer says she use to 'randomly shop' without much of a plan, but once she started organising she saved more than ever before. Pictured: Potato Salad for $2.78 per serve

The influencer says she use to 'randomly shop' without much of a plan, but once she started organising she saved more than ever before. Pictured: Potato Salad for $2.78 per serve

The influencer says she use to ‘randomly shop’ without much of a plan, but once she started organising she saved more than ever before. Pictured: Potato Salad for $2.78 per serve

The mum started meal prepping in her 20s, because there were ‘so many recipes’ she wanted to try.

This kicked when she welcomed twins 18 months ago.

‘I had just stopped work to be a stay-at-home mum, and so we were only having one income, and it was important to start budgeting properly,’ she told News.

Pizza for less than $1 a serve! Lee paid $2.96 for this pizza which served three people

Pizza for less than $1 a serve! Lee paid $2.96 for this pizza which served three people

Pizza for less than $1 a serve! Lee paid $2.96 for this pizza which served three people 

Pork with vegetables costing $16.54 total for five people is pictured

Pork with vegetables costing $16.54 total for five people is pictured

Pork with vegetables costing $16.54 total for five people is pictured

Chicken drumstick fillet, with cous cous and vegetables cost just $9.86 for five people

Chicken drumstick fillet, with cous cous and vegetables cost just $9.86 for five people

Chicken drumstick fillet, with cous cous and vegetables cost just $9.86 for five people

‘Previously, when I’d shop haphazardly, I’d easily spend over $200 a week, but I allocate $160 in total for groceries, and $130 of this goes to food.

 ‘Being organised saves money, time, stress and pressure.’

The mum-of-three mostly shops at Coles and makes sure to take advantage of Flybuys. She also shops locally, and often heads to farmers markets for the freshest produce.

Ms Dias says she’s ‘very strategic’ when she shops and always makes the best of half-price specials, trying always to shop seasonally.  

‘If a recipe has an out-of-season ingredient, don’t disregard it completely, but see if you can modify it, omit it, or replace it with something else,’ she explained.

Ms Dias writes up her weekly menus on a whiteboard to stay organised for the week.

Some of her favourite cheap and easy family meals include pulled pork, roast vegetable and cous cous salad, and bacon and egg muffins.

How to make pork loin with satay and rice:

$9.30 total for three and two serves of rice for the babies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 pork loin steaks: $4.94
  • 1 cup basmati rice: $0.50
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber: $0.94
  • 1/4 capsicum: $0.60
  • 1 onion: $0.45
  • 1 sachet Maggi satay chicken: $1.75
  • 1 carrot: $0.12
  • coriander from our garden
  • pantry staples: olive oil, peanut butter, chicken stock cube, Bigg Seasoning Coconut and Satay seasoning

METHOD:

1. Cook rice as per packet instructions (I use absorption method) with a stock cube added to the water

2. In a fry pan, medium heat with a splash of olive oil, cook pork loin steaks, seasoning with a little salt on each side. When cooked through, allow to rest on plate.

3. In a measuring jug, place 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 3/4 cup boiling water, and Maggi seasoning. Stir until peanut butter has melted.

4. In a medium pan, drizzle some olive oil and cook diced onion and diced capsicum until soft. Then add liquid mixture and turn to low heat. Let simmer until thickens.

5. To plate, divide rice between plates, top with sliced pork loin, and sauce mix. Place sliced cucumber, and grated carrot on the side.

6. Garnish with coriander, and coconut and satay seasoning.

How to make Chicken Pad Thai for $10:

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 Marion’s Kitchen Pad Thai Cooking Kit: $5 (these meal kits frequently go on sale, so worth buying a few when they do, and keep some in the pantry)
  • 2 chicken thighs: $3
  • 2 eggs: $0.60
  • spring onions: $0.50
  • 1/2 bag bean sprouts: $1.10
  • lemon from our garden
  • pantry staples: olive oil, salt crushed peanuts

METHOD:

1. Followed the instructions on the box. Added an extra egg

2. To garnish, added bean sprouts and extra crushed peanuts

Note: The meal kits say it serves four, but is perfect for two adults and one child

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