Fita is a 41-year-old woman who has nine children in her care. She used to spend $500 a week on food for her family.
But after learning new cooking skills, tips around shopping in season and how to store food safely, she has cut that cost down to $300.
She is one of many adults living in a low-income area in Porirua East who have learnt new skills at a local not-for-profit organisation running classes on cooking family meals for under $10.
WELLfed is a start-up, not-for-profit charity, teaching healthy cooking, budgeting, recipe literacy and numeracy.
Its Co-Founders Kim Murray and Rebecca Morahan, who are both parents and come from a finance and IT background, gave us their top tips to eat well on a tight budget.
Cook once, eat twice (at least)
“Try to get at least two meals out of each cooking session.
“You can either keep the leftovers to reheat the next day or create a new dish out of the leftovers,” Kim said.
Buy in bulk
“Watch out for good deals on pantry basics that you use often. Buying in bulk can usually dramatically cut prices,” she said.
Buy seasonal foods
“The bulk bins near the entrance of the supermarket is usually where the seasonal fruit and vegetables are.
“When you buy produce in season it is cheaper than the off season,” she said.
Bulk out dishes with vegetables
“Our recipes for each family-sized meal use around 500 grams of meat (for a family of five or six), so we bulk out the rest of the dish with a lot of vegetables,” Kim said.
Safe food storage
“The general rule is to keep leftovers in the fridge for two days or freeze it safely if it will be sitting around for longer than that.
“Proper food storage saves a lot of waste,” she said.
WELLfed has worked alongside hundreds of locals in the greater Porirua area wanting to learn new skills and to eat more seasonal fruit and vegetables.
The not-for profit partners with Kaibosh Food Rescue and For The Better Good (compost & gardens).
Good-quality second hand cooking equipment is donated by locals, to ensure the tools are at home so recipes made in class can be repeated and practiced with the whole family over and over.
Attendees take the meal they’ve cooked in class home to eat with their families, along with the new skills they learn.
In its first three years WELLfed has worked with more than 300 learners, feeding 13,600 mouths and diverted 600kg of edible food (destined for landfill) into meals enjoyed by whole family.
After building a large following and winning multiple awards, WELLfed is also now starting their own community garden.
They will start growing their own fruit and vegetables at the new premise they’ve obtained in Porirua and teach a fully sustainable cycle from urban farm to table.
“WELLfed is transforming lives through food - an adult within a household with skills, choices and confidence is a game-changer.
“Many of our learners are now volunteering at WELLfed teaching others, and sharing their new skills with their own family. This powerful impact ripples out far and wide.” Rebecca said.