Meet the Aussie mum showing families how to spend just $6 on dinner each night

penina petersen

As grocery prices – and the cost of living – skyrocket in Australia, one clever mum has whittled her food shop down to just $1.50 per serve. Throw in some bread and milk, and leftovers for lunch and you’re looking at somewhere just over $50, all up, for the entire week’s food shop. Lucky for us, she’s keen to spill her menu-planing secrets!

Planning for saving

Mum-of-two Penina Peterson, blogs at Savings Room, and she’s hatched a helpful, practical plan for families determined to keep their spending down.

Penina’s system detailed in her book $1.50 Dinners is based around a monthly shop (for a family of four) and careful meal planning. She’s sharing her secrets to help others budget better, spend more time away from domestic chores and get out of debt or save for other things.

Penina researched all the big Australian supermarkets and found that Aldi came out on top, budget-wise. She then developed a shopping list and accompanying recipes – based around a monthly Aldi shop.

“We’ve been doing it for three months now,” Penina explains of her “budget gourmet” meals, revealing this prescriptive approach reigns less-conscious spending in nicely.

“If I don’t plan and don’t have a system, it’s $200 a week for our family — I’ll just go to the shops and randomly buy stuff,” Penina confessed.

Not. Any. More!

Family friendly and non-spendy

This mum’s helpful system is built around lots of make-ahead, bulk dinner prep and portion freezing. She says it will help other families and frugal wannabes achieve their budgeting goals – and feel less exhausted by the whole shopping and cooking shenanigans.

While make-ahead meals are an integral part of the system, there’s also plenty of recipes that are cooked fresh on the day to balance things out. This clever balance keeps everyone happily eating everything on their plate and reaps hip-pocket rewards in the process.

“You’ll never overspend on groceries and you’ll have hundreds of extra dollars each month,” Penina says of her system which includes meals like pesto pasta, pea and ham soup, chicken pie and chilli con carne.

Penina told that the critics-that-count are giving rave reviews, explaining her kids – aged 11 and 6 – have loved every meal she’s prepared.


Problem solving genius

Adhering to the savvy marketing strategy of developing a winning product by solving a persistent problem, Penina’s also come up with a shopping list and recipes with more weight-concious “lighter eating” in mind.

She’s even created a bundle called “Get Out Of The Kitchen & Go On Holiday Every Year With The $5200 (min) Savings Each Year”.

Helpful, no?!

Penina’s guides also show you how to organise your kitchen to avoid chaos and confusion as you embark on your meal-prep adventures.

Money for nothing

Note that this budget of $42 a week covers dinners only (not cleaning products, nappies and other non-food essentials).

This thrifty family also loosens up the purse-strings to have some luxuries outside this spend, from time to time, so it’s not all hard yards.

“So often on a Saturday I will make a beautiful steak dinner, and because of the savings we can afford to do that,” Penina told 9Honey.

The $42 spend approach pretty much sells itself.

“Once you’ve used the system once, it actually trains you to put your blinkers on, rein in spending, stick to a list and be conscious of how easy it is to overspend,” Penina said.

What a clever, thrifty cookie she is!


Is this something you’d like to do with your family? Or do you think it’s impossible?!

What’s your family’s average weekly food spend?

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