With inflation exploding in everyone's faces, Kiwis are looking for supermarket savings. One way to do that is to cut back on quality. Gross food is often cheaper than the good stuff.
There is one cohort of Kiwis who revel in budget cuisine more than any other: flatmates in their late teens and early 20s.
Whether they are enrolled in tertiary education or working their first lowly paid jobs, young renters spend nearly nothing on food. For good reason too. At that age most of your earnings are required for partying. Usually a 50/50 financial split between everything needed for existence and everything needed for going out. The desire for a good time outweighs health, taste and dignity concerns.
As we get older we lose that mindset. Last week The Matt and Jerry Breakfast Show on Radio Hauraki reached out to this key demographic for some flat recipes. The results were as shocking as they were nostalgic. After some intense debate and thousands of votes, the submissions were whittled down to four pillars of flat food.
Two minute noodle and marg sandwich on white death
A hugely popular dish in Dunedin flats in the 90s. Quick, cheap, flavourful, fattening and packed with essential carbs for the winter months. Your upfront investment for a week's supply is a mere $1.20 for the cheapest loaf of white bread, $2.60 for a five pack of two minute noodles and $1.40 for 500g of your most budget margarine. Filling two sandwiches with each packet of noodles will get you 10 servings at just over 50 cents a pop. The trick here is to drain the noodles before applying to the sandwich, otherwise the white death disintegrates. The soup can be poured into a mug and drunk as a reasonably disgusting side dish.
Microwave rice and soy sauce
Quick, easy and self-explanatory. Popular in broke central Wellington flats in the early 2000s. You can get a 250g bag of plain rice for $2. If you're feeling fancy it's another 70c for flavoured packets. The options in that arena are endless. Basmati, coconut, vegetable pilau, roast garlic, chicken and brown. Half a litre of a low-level soy sauce will set you back around $2.30 but it will last forever. That's $2.05 for a filling, if slightly depressing, meal.
Pre-cooked sausages, boiled potatoes and over-cooked freezer-burned mixed veg
This one has a few moving parts. It takes a bit of time to prepare but it will supply the essential vegetable injection needed for survival. The cheapest 1kg pack of sausages I could find was $8. That's 14 individual bangers. Big dirty agria potatoes are going for around 80 cents each. It's $3.50 for a 1kg bag of mixed frozen vegetables. This will get you seven meals with two sausage, two potatoes and a handful of veges in each. That's $3.30 a pop. A cheap way to stave off scurvy. You might need to invest in some tom sauce.
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Bachelor's handbag, marg and rolls
This one was more of a payday option in the flats I lived in. Popular for renters who live near a supermarket. A simple recipe. Grab yourself a pre-cooked chicken in a bag on the way home, marg up some rolls and shove the chicken in. The trick is to hold yourself back from consuming the entire bachelor's handbag in one go. You want to get three value meals out of it if you can. A supermarket bachelor's handbag can set you back as little as $12.95, a six pack of white death rolls $2.50 and $1.40 for the tub of cheap marg.
It looks like food prices are only going one way. Everyone is looking at expenses. Even those of us who thought we'd hit a stage in our lives when we wouldn't have to anymore.
Luckily savings can be made if we reach back across time and learn from our younger dirt-broke selves.
Try the four pillars of flat food and see how you go. Warning, your metabolism has changed and you will get really fat.
Dishes that landed just outside the top four but deserve a mention include potato chip sandwiches, pasta and salt, the sauced servo pie sandwich and simplest of all, neat white death (ball up a slice of bread and shove it in you face).