Menu plan for families

Menu plan for families

It can be difficult trying to cut your food bill spending and getting all the nutrition you need. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ve done the sums and prepared this weekly family menu plan to show how you can save on your food shopping – and keep a healthy diet as well.

Our family menu is based on mum (M), dad (D), a 16-year-old boy (B) and a 14-year-old girl (G).

Nutritionist Rose Carr says: “In this family, our ravenous teenage boy eats bigger serves than all the others and Mum has the smallest serves, even less than the growing teenage daughter. Although it’s not generally stated, our plan includes tea and coffee with trim milk, and, of course, water throughout the day.”

NOTE: If your kids are younger, you won’t need as much food (and you’ll spend less).

  • Average family cost: $340
  • Our menu: $275
  • Save $75
  • $75 per week for a year = $3900 = family holiday!

How our menus are made

This menu plan covers every meal and snack for the week, and includes all the nutrition every member of the household needs – all the energy, nutrients, vitamins and minerals we need to be healthy (based on guidelines from the Ministry of Health). Using recipes from our archive, we’ve created menus that are also significantly cheaper than the average food costs for different households.

How we shopped

We’ve priced this menu based on an average budget-friendly supermarket. We followed these rules:

  • we bought things on special whenever possible
  • we used as much seasonal produce as possible
  • we chose supermarket ‘own brand’ products when they were the cheapest option available
  • we bought bulk packs of staple items and allowed for storage in pantry and freezer
  • we included homemade versions of pre-packaged products such as hummus and pesto.
  • we made our own yoghurt (using bought mixes – save even more by doing it from scratch).

NOTE: Some ingredients on the shopping lists are things you need for the recipes in the menus, that you won’t need to buy every week. This means your initial shopping trip may cost slightly more, but in future, your shopping will be cheaper.

You can achieve even bigger savings by

  • checking out the specials at specialty butchers and fruit and vege shops
  • checking all the bulk bins for dry goods
  • shopping at Asian supermarkets for specialty Asian ingredients
  • shopping at roadside stalls and farmers’ markets for fruit and veges
  • buying items in bulk then freezing them, such as meat and cheese on special
  • planting your own herbs, salad mix, spinach, silver beet and other veges.

Shopping list: Basics

Buy once a month (or as needed): These pantry basics are things you may not buy every week. We recommend buying in bulk and storing.

  • canned chickpeas
  • canned lentils
  • canned tomatoes
  • coffee
  • cooking oil spray
  • dried chickpeas
  • dried herbs
  • dried lentils
  • flour (white, wholemeal)
  • garlic
  • honey
  • Marmite/Vegemite
  • Milo
  • onions (red, brown, as required)

Shopping list: Luxuries

Buy occasionally: These occasional purchases are not included in the main shopping lists. Buy these as budget allows, when on special.

  • bacon
  • balsamic vinegar
  • beer
  • chocolate
  • herb paste
  • nut oils such as walnut and sesame
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • wine

Weekly menu plans

Menu plan for families (see DOWNLOAD link at bottom of page)
Menu plan for couples (links to article)
Menu plan for singles (links to article)

Links to recipes

Chicken fried rice
Almond, coconut and lemon slice
Crispy bacon and rosemary potato pizza
Tasty vege curry
Beef ‘n’ bean burger
Cashew-coated lamb with sautéed potatoes
Chicken and tomato fettuccine
Tuna macaroni bake

Week shopping list

Fruit and veges

  • avocado 1 large
  • baby spinach (bag)
  • bananas x 28
  • beetroot 1
  • broccoli 1
  • cabbage 1
  • carrots x 5
  • cucumber 1
  • fresh basil (bunch)
  • fresh coriander
  • ginger 1 chunk
  • green beans (750g) (fresh or frozen)
  • kiwifruit x 10
  • lemons x 4
  • lettuce 2
  • nectarines x 12
  • parsley
  • plums x 20
  • potatoes 1kg
  • pumpkin 1kg
  • spinach (bunch)
  • spring onions (bunch)
  • tomatoes x 20

Dry goods

  • brown rice (250g)
  • cashews, unsalted (1/3 cup)
  • desiccated coconut
  • fettuccine pasta
  • fruit bread
  •  loaves
  • ground almonds
  • jasmine rice (600g)
  • light multigrain bread 6 x loaves
  • macaroni pasta (250g)
  • Milk arrowroot biscuits 1 pkt
  • mixed nuts
  • muesli bars 2 pkt
  • multigrain bread rolls (6)
  • multigrain crackers 1 pkt
  • peanut butter 1 jar
  • peanuts, chopped
  • penne pasta (700g)
  • pizza bases (large) x 2
  • pumpkin seeds
  • red curry paste
  • rice crackers 1 pkt
  • rolled oats (1.5kg)
  • rosemary
  • tortillas 1 pkt
  • Weet-Bix 1 pkt (med-sized)
  • wholemeal pita (large) 1 pkt


  • baked beans
  • 4 x 420g cans
  • cannellini beans 400g can
  • chickpeas 2 x 400g cans
  • diced tomatoes 4 x 400g cans
  • honey (clear)
  • jam
  • juice 2L
  • lentils 2 x 400g cans
  • peaches 2 x cans
  • red kidney beans 390g can
  • tuna 3 x 185g cans


  • cheddar cheese 1 small block
  • cottage cheese (650g)
  • eggs x 18
  • low-fat ice cream 2L tub
  • low-fat plain yoghurt 5 x 1L (make our own sachets)
  • mixed veges (frozen) (500g)
  • reduced-fat cheese 1 small block
  • reduced-fat sour cream (150g)
  • stir-fry veges (frozen) 500g
  • trim milk (6L)

Fresh chicken/fish/meat

  • chicken thighs or breasts (1kg)
  • lamb leg steaks x 4
  • lean beef mince (400g)
  • bacon 1 small pkt
DOWNLOAD – Menu plan for families
Author: Rose Carr

Healthy Food Guide

First published: Mar 2010

2018-09-03 15:58:09

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