This article is from the second issue of CommBank's magazine, Brighter.

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Anyone who’s drawn inspiration from Lucy Tweed’s irreverent approach to weekly meals will know that she keeps it real and flavoursome. “Feeding a family of five can be exhausting and expensive,” says Lucy.

Her number one tip for sticking to a budget is planning. “Half an hour on Sunday saves me time and money all week.” It’s also the only way to stretch meals and make the most of leftovers. A planned risotto, for instance, turns into cheesy muffins for school lunch the next day. Planning is also key to balancing more affordable meals, like pasta, omelettes or veggie-based options, with ones based around cuts of meat that may cost a little more.

Another money-saver for Lucy: make ingredients go as far as they can. “If I roast a chicken, the juices and leftover skin can flavour a simple pasta dish while the bones are cooked up into a broth.”

And when trying a new recipe, she always searches for flavour substitutes in her pantry before buying anything new. “If a recipe calls for something salty, such as miso, there’s no reason why a dash of Vegemite won’t do the job,” she says. “Even if it doesn’t taste exactly as you expected, happy accidents lead to new discoveries.”

And don’t forget to try updating your go-to meals when you crave a bit of variety – packet-ramen can be transformed if you toss in some greens and crack an egg into the pot. “Some of the best meals come out of us needing to be resourceful and make a little go a long way.”

Lucy Tweed Lucy Tweed

Lucy’s top pantry staples

  • Rice: “It’s usually a kind of long grain but I don’t panic if a recipe calls for something I don’t have. You can make anything work with rice.”
  • Long and short pasta: “My most-affordable, simplest and fastest meals are the pasta-based ones in my weekly plan.”
  • Flour: “I don’t just use this for cakes – flour is great for making simple flatbreads and fritters to name a few weekly staples.”
  • Vinegar: “I don’t have overindulgent 700-year- old specialty vinegars – I just rotate everyday vinegars”
  • Honey: “This magical ingredient never goes off. Ever. You can have a jar of the same honey for 3000 years and she’ll be fine.”
  • Pulses: “I’m always reaching for ingredients like lentils and white or black beans that easily add bulk to a meal.”
  • Canned tuna: “Tuna is so great. It's pantry meat – what’s not to love about that?”
  • Crushed tomatoes: “I love cooking with tomatoes – they’re so forgiving. They can be soup, pasta or roasted with meat and they play nicely with so many flavours.”
  • Stock: “I love a bone broth but otherwise, Massel’s plant-based stocks are my favourite. I’ll throw together a bake with leftover meat, rice and stock.”
  • Flaked sea salt: “This is probably one of the bigger luxuries in my pantry but I just love that crunch.”

Lucy’s new book, Every Night of the Week Veg: Meat-Free Beyond Monday, is out 1 August. See the July/August 2023 issue of Brighter magazine for her recipes and pantry staples.

Photography by Ben Dearnley.

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