Advice Column, Lifestyle, Money, Parenting

Saving money on groceries and meals during Covid-19 pandemic

  • Wendy Offer Designs
  • Category Advice Column, Lifestyle, Money, Parenting

I thought although this was not in my original “money saving” ideas it is very pertinent to what is happening at the moment and as such I have decided to write about ways to save money during this period of Lockdown/Covid-19 pandemic.

We all already know that this pandemic has been, is and still will be detrimental to our economy as well as our lives. So many businesses have had to close their doors, or they have had to retrench many of their staff members to be able to keep going. Add to that all the people that have not actually been able to work during various Lockdown stages and the statistics are both mindboggling and terrifying at the same time. If times were not already tough, they are more than tough for most of us now!

I recently read an article published by capeetc on May 28, stating that the food prices have increased by 30% in the last 2 months. The article stated:

“A recent research report on hunger and its relation to COVID-19 conducted by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group, has revealed that families living in low income homes are now paying 30% more for groceries than before lockdown.”

If you would like to read the full article, please click on this link:

It is because of that article that I decided to write this article now as this rings so many alarm bells for me. This is the time when we need food prices to go down if many of us are going to survive!

A few weeks ago I wrote a free e-booklet which I posted and shared on numerous Facebook pages called “Budget friendly meal recipes, ideas and more” and I thought for this column I would share some ideas out of it.


Recently I posted a question on various Facebook groups I belong to: “If you only had R50 in your wallet what meal would you cook for your family?” I got hundreds of responses ranging from the very detailed answers which included a recipe as well as just great meal ideas.

Below is the list I have compiled of all the answers from the various groups as well as the wonderful recipes people shared. I hope these will give you some meal ideas and inspiration.

  • Tinned fish and spaghetti 
  • Mince and spaghetti or macaroni
  • Pilchard breyani
  • Vegetable briyani
  • Tin fish biryani
  • Pap and wors with brown onion gravy
  • Umphokoqo (“African salad” with amasi (sour milk) and milk also can make samp and beans
  • Tuna salad with spaghetti
  • Butternut soup with 4in1 soup mix 
  • Pancakes
  • Hot dogs 
  • Vegetable soup
  • Baked beans on toast
  • Mac and cheese
  • Egg fried rice
  • Sausage and eggs
  • Braai broodjies
  • Fish cakes
  • Spaghetti bolognese
  • Lentil bolognese
  • Dhal and rice
  • Lentil curry and rice
  • Toasted cheese sandwiches
  • Tuna and mayo toasted sandwiches
  • Crumpets
  • Fishcakes and mash
  • Vetkoek and mince
  • Vegetable curry
  • Dombolo
  • Pasta with Tuna and mayo
  • Chicken livers with mash potato
  • Papa and luckystar fish
  • Papa and nkomazi
  • Phuthu and maas
  • Chicken feet and pap
  • Pap and cabbage with achar
  • Pasta tuna salad
  • Jaffles with mince
  • Melkkos
  • Spaghetti and tuna
  • Tin fish curry with pap
  • Liver and mashed potatoes
  • Pap, sugar beans and cabbage
  • Puri / roti n potatoes
  • 2 minute noodles
  • Soup bone stew with rice
  • Pap, chicken offal (livers/feet/necks/gizzards/hearts) and cabbage
  • Potato curry and bread
  • Roti with stir fry mixed with chicken livers and gizzards
  • Pap and chicken feet
  • Pasta with bacon, onion, garlic and smothered in white sauce and garlic rolls
  • Egg, butter & cheese spaghetti
  • French toast
  • Fatcakes
  • Baked bean hot dogs
  • Chicken burgers
  • Egg chutney
  • Curry beans rice, tomato and lettuce salad with boiled eggs
  • Curry eggs and rice
  • Soya mince and spaghetti
  • Baked beans and spaghetti topped with cheese
  • Soya with carrots, an onion, a potato and pap
  • Scrambled eggs and beans on toast
  • Pancakes with mince
  • Tin fish and bread
  • Mince on 2 minute noodles
  • Pea soup and bread
  • Spicy chicken flavour packet soup with frozen mixed vegetables and bread
  • Jacket potatoes
  • Tomato soup and pap or rice
  • Pumpkin fritters
  • Spinach pasta


Poor mans lasagne

Boil cabbage drain put in Pyrex dish. Bully beef cut up cool with tomato onion and chilli. Add on top of cabbage. Grate cheese on top with paprika. Bake in the oven until cheese melted. It’s delicious.

Fried Rice

cook 1 cup of rice, scramble 2 eggs, heat oil in pan, add eggs, once almost cooked add rice, add chicken spice, fry till warmed through. Any left over meat from another meal can be added.


Cook a packet of 2 minute noodles and add some extra ingredients such as cut up vienna’s, cooked veggies, ham, cooked chicken pieces etc to make a complete yummy meal.


Flatbreads –  500g ready made dough, 2 tbsp cumin seeds, salt & pepper, oil for frying.

Lentil Curry – 1 sliced onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 diced sweet potato, 2 peeled and chopped carrots, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1/2 packed lentils (250g), 4 cups chicken stock, 

Serving – 2 finely chopped tomatoes, half finely chopped onion, fresh coriander.

Divide dough into 8. Using hands form a flat (15cm circular) shape with each piece. Sprinkle with cumin and salt. Add dash of oil to pan and fry bread over medium heat (4 mins per side). Sauté onion and garlic in oil over low-medium heat. Add sweet potato, carrot and curry powder, sauté for 5 mins. Add lentils and stock, simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Season to taste. Mix tomato, onion and season well (serving).

Tronk kos

1 can bully beef, 3 potatoes (chopped & cooked), 1 can of onion & tomato mix. In a pan stir all ingredients together until hot. Serve in bowl or on toast.

strong spaghetti 

Packet of spaghetti (cooked and strained). Oil in lots of garlic and chillies to taste, 2 tins tomato paste, 4 tins of water. Sugar and salt to taste. Toss into spaghetti.


Fry fresh onions and tomatoes well, add garlic, and 1 or 2 chopped up smoked, russian or frankfurter sausages. mix with already cooked pasta and and top off with some cheese to make extra yummy.


Cook a tin of tomato and onion mix. Mix in bit of salt, pepper and sugar to taste with 1 or 2 bay leaves. Add to your choice of already cooked pasta/spaghetti.

Tuna pasta

Fry onion, garlic. Add tuna and 1x packet Mushroom soup powder. Add to cooked pasta 

meat ballS

1 packet mince ,4 baby marrows,1 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg, salt and pepper, tsp any dried herbs or fresh herbs if u have. I tin tomatoes, diced half green pepper, diced onion, teaspoon chopped garlic. Grate baby marrows and squeeze out as much liquid as you can, mix all ingredients together and make meat balls, I make them on the small side so it looks like more. Fry them in a little oil and serve with pasta. Fry onion, green pepper till soft, add garlic, tin tomatoes and half cup water with half a stock cube and some herbs. Cook slowly, once everything is soft, add the meat balls. Pour over pasta.

Easy, no knead bread

3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 1 + 1/2 cup hot, not boiling water. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water and mix well. Cover with cling and leave in the counter for 3-4 hours or overnight. Turn dough into floured surface and turn 2-3 times with scraper. Cover and leave whilst oven heats up. About 30 minutes. Preheat oven and cast iron pot. Add dough to hot pot. Be extra careful. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.


Stews in a slow cooker, with whatever veggies are in the house or frozen mixed veg, 1x tin of tomatoes, 1x tomato paste, 1x stock cube and herbs & spices (can use cheaper stewing beef, as its more tender after cooking the whole day)

Chip Chicken

5-8 chicken drumsticks, salt and milled pepper, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 30ml chopped parsley, 45ml butter, melted, 60g cheese and onion chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place chicken portions in an ovenproof dish. Season with salt and pepper. Mix garlic and parsley into butter and drizzle over chicken. Sprinkle chips over chicken.

Bake for 45-5 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Serves 4.

Cowboy food

Braise an onion with a few cloves of garlic and a green pepper. Add sausage that’s been cut into bite size pieces, add a bit of water and close the lid of the food, turning the temp to low. Allow to cook through. When the sausage is cooked, add a tin of baked beans and half a fresh chilli, chopped finely (can leave this out). Allow the beans to heat through, then remove from the heat. Can serve with mashed potatoes, rice or rolls.

Pilchard curry

Braise an onion, green pepper and garlic cloves till soft. I like to toss all the veg together with half a tsp of salt, then close the lid of the pot and reduce heat to low. You won’t need to add water as the veg will cook and soften in the moist heat. You can also add a grated carrot and cubed potatoes. When the veg is soft, add a tin of plain or sweet chilli pilchards. You can leave or remove the bones. Allow to heat through then serve with rice. 

Pot of bean delight

Add to the pot – 2 onions chopped and fried with a bit of oil. Once soft add a tin of beak beans. 25ml vinegar. 10ml sugar. Salt to taste. 10ml oil. Whisk 2 eggs and add to the pot while stirring to make sure egg mix well in. Put on lid and boil for a short while to make sure the egg cooks. Stir frequently to prevent it from burning. Turn of heat to simmer. Then turn of to thicken a bit before you dish it. Can be served – warm or cold. For a family of 4 double up on the entire recipe.

Goes very well with a braai. Its easy and so tasty – and very economical!

Chocolate brownies – Sheet bake

250g Margarine or butter, melted, 2 Cups Castor Sugar (500ml), 4 Eggs, 2 Cups Cake Flour (500ml), 1/2 Cup Cocoa (125 ml), a Pinch of Salt, 5ml Vanilla Essence

Mix everything together. Scoop into Pan (big flat pan) Bake at 180°C for ± 25 minutes. Let it cool a little. Cut into squares

Thank you to everyone who gave ideas and shared their recipes with me, I hope this information helps you during this terrible time.

Wendy Offer – Wendy Offer Designs –

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