TIME and money are the two commodities in shortest supply for families grappling with the pressures of modern living.
But a Tamworth mum has devised a system to save big on both so these finite resources can be spent when it matters most.
In a super-human feat of domesticity, Cate Brechin has planned and costed every single meal her family of six will eat for the year.
Breakfasts, lunches and, most importantly, dinners – most of which work out at just between $1.60 and $4 a head – aim to strike a balance between ease, expense and nutrition.
Come grocery day, it means each meal can be specifically bought for, eliminating waste and minimising the risk of expensive extras finding their way into the trolley.
Mrs Brechin, who works in finance, said the blueprint – while flexible – gives her a fighting chance of “taming the chaos” of a busy household.
“(My husband, Andrew, and I) have four kids aged from eight to 18 and the only reason I menu-plan is that it saves so much of my time and money,” she said.
“I work and we’re very busy and I hate getting to the end of the day and going ‘Right, what are we going to have for dinner tonight?’.”
Cost of living pressures, such as soaring utility bills, mean many families have to take short-cuts merely to balance their budgets.
Numerous studies have indicated that too often people on tight budgets fall into the trap of eating takeaway or processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat.
Professing to be neither a cook nor nutritionist, Mrs Brechin, 42, said she simply used her knowledge from 18 years as a mother to guide her meal planning.
“I guess my philosophy is simple – when it comes to feeding your family, you are your own expert,” she said.
“You know what your family likes to eat. You know your level of skill in the kitchen. You know how much time you have. You know how much money you are able to spend on groceries.
“By planning ahead, you will be able to cut corners on most meals and feel that you’re not missing out when it comes to variety in the kitchen.”