Cheap Home Lunch Options for an Adult, for $1 or Less?

For Saturday lunch at home, I used to put 500g of frozen chips in the air fryer. Since the bags were $2 per kg, it worked out to be $1 per serve (not including the cost of electricity etc). Now that hot chips and potatoes are expensive (due to shortage?), they are now $4 per kg. I'm looking for suggestions on alternatives.

I tried a can of baked beans/spaghetti which are less than $1, but they weren't filling enough for me.

I don't mind cereal, but having milk for just 1 meal a week is not cost effective for the milk component. I guess I could use powdered milk?

A loaf of bread is $2.40 (?) with 21 slices, so I could eat 8 or 9 slices. Although I eat 4 slices every morning.

I could eat rice, which is about 15 cents per serve and does fill me up, but it is bland.


  • +33

    Get an easy fried rice recipe,you can add frozen peas etc

    • +19

      Good suggestion Pam.

    • +2

      Nats What I Reckon has a great easy one. Mostly Uncle Roger approved except no wok

    • +1

      OP needs a bag of Ajinomoto msg

  • +122

    Life is short - Eat healthy and enjoy it.

    • +26

      But you can make it even shorter by eating these 'hack' meals!!

      • +2

        Da dark humour is stronk with thee

      • Grim Reaper 5 star rated

        • Lol

  • +16

    Buy a bag of brushed potatoes and make your own chips. I’ve seen 5kg bags going for $5-7 at most fruit and veg shops.

    • Why brushed potatoes

      • +4

        I find that brushed potatoes store better for longer, when kept in a cool, dark place, with adequate ventilation to keep the potatoes dry.

        • Brushed might be newer since they dont need to do the wash process right

          • +1

            @Tleyx: I Hear Brushed potatoes actually get washed then have extra dirt added back to them just so they do last longer/get protected from light etc.

        • U can just prep them all at once and freeze, peel (if you want) and then cut and par boil for 5-6 minutes, then let COMPLETELY dry, then put them in a container and put in the freezer. You can take them out and do a single fry (start low, then finish high and the result is a damn good chip) or double fry if ur feeling fancy (not required since we par-boiled them).

          I do this all the time, its cheap and doesn't take much effort/time if you do them in large amounts at a time.

    • Whats your recipe for home made chippies? Does it taste like store bought ?

  • +3

    I make sandwiches sometimes, peanut butter and banana, tomato with black pepper, baked beans is nice, ieatit cold but you can toast it

    • +3

      peanut butter and cheese is great, even better toasted

      • +2

        Seriously underrated

      • +3

        Love peanut butter sambos
        Love cheese sambos
        I would never of thought of combining the two….particulalrly toasted.

        Thanks for the suggestion

      • +1

        As in toasted sandwich toasted or pb+cheese on toast?

        • toasted pb + cheese sangas, let cool for 5 mins, awesome edible

          • +1

            @sharkyoz: Awesome AND edible? We might be onto something here

      • @sharkyoz haha this is great. I use to make my little one peanut butter and cheese! It's actually really nice

    • +2

      Peanut butter and honey!

      • Add it to crushed weetbix. Peanut butter cups.

    • Great suggestions!

    • +4

      Peanut butter, honey and banana has like 3 superfoods on one sandwich.

      You could survive on them, I reckon.

      • +1

        The holy trinity

  • +1

    Pancake shaker mix, home brand

    • +10

      why not make your own? cheaper and healthier.

      • +1

        Milk cost for 1 meal a week.

        • its mixed with water

          • +2

            @screensaver: It's still cheaper and not much slower to DIY. Healthier too as DIY doesn't contain anti-caking agents etc.

          • @screensaver: Jim B is suggesting making your own pancake mix - which requires milk.

    • +2

      This is the most fluffiest home made pancake recipe I've tried. So cheap and easy to make:


      2 Tbsp. sugar
      2 cups flour, all-purpose or wheat
      5 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. salt
      1/4 cup vegetable oil
      2 eggs
      1 1/2 cups milk


      In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick and lumpy.
      Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat and lightly grease.
      Pour or spoon the batter onto the griddle to form pancakes.
      Cook the pancakes on a hot greased griddle.
      Flip when bubbles break on the surface and the edges begin to dry.

      • +1

        Baking powder is so good for the fluffy pancakes, but such a balancing act between sad bitterness and mega-floof.

      • +1

        2 eggs


      • +1

        That's a lot of work compared to add water, shake, cook.

    • +24

      Nice, irrelevant, but nice…

    • +6

      So you planning on mailing some to the OP?

      • +6

        I can hook him up if he wants.

    • +1

      We get given gourmet pies by the lady 2 doors up. Her son owns a bakery in the next suburb and drops them into her and she can't eat them all.
      They are truly excellent! (they'd want to be for $8 each)

    • Always think there is missed welfare and or homeless shelter opportunity here.So many bakeries chuck out so much.

      My old local gives their old buns to a farmers cows (allegedly). Used to do a mates rates (mixed tray at closing for $10).
      New local bakery not interested unfortunately…

      • I've spoken to them about that. Problem is who is going to pay someone to pick up, hygienically transport and store and then serve this food? You volunteering to do it?

        You can't give them away to customers because who is going to buy a cream bun at 3pm when they know they can get a whole tray of them for free at 5pm.

  • +33

    That’s a lot of carb, which there’s nothing wrong with but you probably need some protein and veg in your diet too. Maybe add something with your rice, pasta or bread. Soy sauce and/or chilli oil with the rice make it less bland. Things that would be less than $1 that you could add to your cheap carb:
    2-3 eggs (might be harder to buy at the moment)
    1 piece of crumbed frozen fish eg…
    Lentils (either cook yourself or grab a tin, Aldi tins are less than a dollar)
    2 chicken tenders eg…
    One chicken thigh…
    25-50g cheese

    For veg add some frozen peas or mixed veg which is $2.50-3/kg or some chopped or grated carrot ($2/kg). You can also get sweet potato at times for $2-$2.50/kg. Bags of avocados can also be very cheap this time of year so one small avocado would be less than $1 and can have mashed on toast or on top of rice.

    So a $1 lunch could look like
    2 eggs on toast
    Omlette with rice and a side of veg
    Pasta with fish and carrot sticks
    Lentils with rice (just add some seasoning like curry powder to the lentils and heat in a pan or microwave)
    Fish with rice and peas
    Chicken tender sandwich
    Sweet potato and fish
    Loaded sweet potato (melt some cheese on top if you can fit it in your budget) can just microwave whole potato
    Home made sweet potato fries
    Pasta and peas with grated cheese
    Air fried chicken thigh with rice and veg

    This is all assuming you’re not food prepping and freezing meals and you’re looking for convenience options. If you go this way it gets a whole lot easier/cheaper. Then there’s countless curries, pastas, rice dishes, soups etc that you can’t make for $1 per serve. I’ve also assumed you’re limited to a budget for each week, but if not buying bulk quantities helps in the long run. I’ve also assumed keeping a larger tin of tuna and using across meals isn’t an option, but if it is that would also be less than $1 per serve to add to pasta or rice.

  • +8

    If you are prepared to eat some repeats there are plenty of options, but you have to buy several meals of ingredients at a time.
    E.g. grilled cheese on toast is tasty, but you need to buy the $10 1kg block of cheese for it to be economical.
    I lash out and add a slice of ham or some tomato so I am satisfied with 2 or 3 slices.
    Soup is cheap to make and stores well. Also nice with toast!
    Rice is cheap, but add some flavours - look at how nasi lemak uses small amounts of costly ingredients to turn rice into a great meal.
    Pasta with cheap jar sauce made better with an onion, mushrooms and a rasher of bacon can run to $6 for 6 meals.

  • +6

    Reading your message again, it is specific to Saturdays, which makes it tricky to hit the price point if it is just one meal a week. What are you eating other days?

    • +24

      Eating out at 5 star Michelin restaurants.

    • Grill'd unlimited free burgers

  • +57

    Try a risotto. To keep costs down, cook on a public BBQ.

    • +16

      Using public BBQ's save cents. Cheers

    • +12

      It's so good when bits of the Ozbargain canon just pop up from time to time like this. 😂
      Much better than when they get done to death (a la the response to every post about someone having a problem: "Bikies?")

    • You win the internet for today. I tip my hat to you good sir.

  • +1

    2 minute noodles or similar?

    • +2

      Instant noodles are a convenient and cheap food, but they may have negative effects on health, such as:
      Increasing the risk of heart disease, stomach cancer and metabolic syndrome due to their high sodium, MSG and TBHQ contents.
      Raising blood pressure due to their high sodium content.
      Causing hormonal imbalance, indigestion and weight gain due to their low fiber, protein and nutritional value.
      Lacking crucial vitamins and minerals that are essential for a balanced diet

      • +3

        While all that is true, it is one of the few foods available under $1 per serve

      • +8

        How is that any different to having bag of air fried chips?

        • chips is aussie mate

          noodles is asian

      • I normally have it with Tofu and some fish balls.
        Firm Tofu pack 12 = $4 (use one or two)
        1kg fish balls = $10 (serves 15 meals)
        Those cheap bulk plain noodles ($2.50/kg)

        For broth buy that miso box ( use a teaspoon or so) (I use the low sodium one)
        And dried Seaweed flakes (50g) ( soak the seaweed flakes for a few hours before use) and use the water as extra umami bomb.
        A little bit of soy sauce if you want more flavour hit.

        Turns out to be about $4-$5 a serve. But it's extremely filling and healthy. To get the same equivalent eating out is about $30.

      • +1

        Apart from that all good though?

      • Dude you had me at convenient and cheap food stop digging for gold.

    • I eat them during the rest of the week.

      • Why can't you eat it for another day then? It's not like you're getting much nutrition from chips anyway.

        And may I suggest buying seaweed from a Korean/asian store? You could buy that, some soy sauce, and garlic and make a basic Korean seaweed soup.

        You could also buy misugaru (again, a Korean store), and just mix one or two spoonfuls of misugaru with water and drink that.

        Both options are fairly affordable, and probably a lot more nutritious than eating chips.

        You could also buy some seeds and grow your own stuff to eat, which is obviously not going to be enough, but it's definitely another cost saving. Or if you're into it, you could also just go out and pick some dandelions - which are edible.

        Oats are also an option. I sometimes have steel-cut oats, with some blended frozen fruit, and hemp. Not sure what the unit cost is per serve, but it lasts a while.

        As other people have suggested, you could also have rice. You could have it with some Korean doljaban, or some Japanese furikake.

  • +10

    Mate you should perhaps try eating healthier

    Anyway chickpeas are healthier and cheap. Buy dried ones from Indian grocer, or if none available the asian aisle in Woolies. Soak then boil them. Eat as is with salt and spices, or fry in a pan to make really tasty

    • +4

      Great idea, I might prepare mine a little differently.
      I love chickpeas with a little salt, some pepper or herbs & peppers over the top, very yummy and packed full of nutrients (about $1 a meal or less).

      Lentils are a great option with the above extras also.

    • +5

      Chick peas and roasted cauliflower is my signature vegetarian dish. Bloody beautiful.

      • +2

        Recipe please

        • +11

          Your wish is my command

          I delete the mushrooms cos I'm not a fungi.

          I think it was originally from one of the free Woolworths magazines.

          • +1

            @Muzeeb: Thanks! Will give it a try

  • +1

    For Saturday lunch at home, I used to put 500g of frozen chips in the air fryer. Since the bags were $2 per kg, it worked out to be $1 per serve (not including the cost of electricity etc). Now that hot chips and potatoes are expensive (due to shortage?), they are now $4 per kg. I'm looking for suggestions on alternatives.

    Such a true tight arse….. Can't spend $2 on lunch…. Everything has gone up!

    BTW what do you eat for lunch on the other 6 days of the week?

    • Eats out at 5 star Michelin restaurants

    • -1

      It’s a 100% cost increase

      • It’s a 100% cost increase

        Yes it is, from a crazy low starting price……

  • +12

    Hi GreenLego.

    Geniune question, do you can't afford OR don't want to pay more than $1 per meal?

    For your health, you need to add some veggies into your diet. Carrots, frozen peas and corn and broccoli are cheap enough.

    You should also consider used dried legumes (beans) and tinned tomatoes for soups. Also cheap.

    Chicken wings/drums sticks are a cheap source of protein.

      • buy a bag of rice and eat that then.

      • +13

        I did feel sorry for you because I thought you couldn't afford it.

        Anyway, spend a bit more and look after your health, you'll regret it in future.

        All the money in the world isn't worth being ill.

      • +5

        Ditch the internet but don't compromise on healthy eating lifestyle. What everyone has suggested here about adding veggies and eating healthy mustn't be ignored. You'll thank us later. I have stopped paying for nbn long ago and used that money to buy a healthy balanced grocery.

      • It's cheaper to buy a sim card with yearly plan. Even Amaysim 1 month can be free with 100% cashback and bigger data.

        How big is your data usage per month in average? Is 120 GB to 240 GB a year enough for you? Should aim for $150/year or lower for cheap data.

      • +1

        Didn't downvote you, and I am not sure of your personal circumstance, but one would wonder whether you're better off improving your earning potential than living so poorly?

        You can definitely keep costs down, eating beans/lentils and rice etc. What you're doing currently though , will likely lead to poor health outcomes… to what end? To save a pittance on something asinine?

      • OP please sit down and think about what's important to spend money on, I mean personally I would die without internet but I would also die without a proper diet

  • +16

    mate you need to eat better. 500g of fried chips? Bread? rice? life is too short for such bad and boring food.

    • +6

      if you are truly hungry, even a simple loaf of bread tastes heavenly when toasted
      bread, rice and potatoes are also healthy so no problems there if the rest of your diet lets you reach your nutritional requirements

      • +1

        bread, rice and potatoes are also healthy so no problems there IF the rest of your diet lets you reach your nutritional requirements

        Unfortunately in this case there is no other healthy part to his diet.

        • He's only talking about 1 cheap meal a week, I'd expect his other meals cover his nutritional needs.

  • Can an air fryer cook chips from raw potatoes? I recently bought a 5kg sack for $4, though usual price is around $6-$9 per kilo.

    500grams would be approximately 40c @ $4 per kilo.

    Get washed or Desiree potatoes that don't have to peel. Use a chipper or cut them into wedges if you don't. A bit more work than frozen chips from a plastic bag, but given the amount of energy in that food it's probably good to do a bit of work.

    • I meant usual price is $6-$9 per 5kg bag

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