Cooking with a deposit in mind

Written by in Buying

One of the quickest and most effective ways for two people to save for a deposit is to tighten your belts and live on just one of your incomes for a number of years while you dedicate the entirety of the other income towards your deposit.

So how do you stop yourself from wasting away when cooking for two on a single budget?

The keys to successfully saving for a home lie in your budget, and a core part of your budget is getting your shopping costs down.

It’s time to get back in contact with your inner student, while adding the flourishing touches of nutrition that will keep you sustained over these tighter years.


Noodles are your saviour

Forget religion, nothing but noodles can save you now. The trick to cooking cheaply for two is to get your base right. Those two-minute noodles might have reduced you to a shell of health during your studious years, but added to shredded cabbage, cos lettuce, carrot, peas, broad beans and brocollini, all mixed with a quick vinaigrette (quickly mix up sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of lime, mirin and even a dash of pomegranate molasses), and you are well onto your way to an auction victory. Need more nutrition? Swap the noodles for a mix of brown rice, quinoa and lentils.

Remember that bulk is your mantra. Buy and cook up enough to last you a few meals each. Freshen up meals with different additions, like poached eggs or a fillet of pan-fried salmon. Want to save the planet? Substitute salmon for less common fish, like mackerel.

Start rolling

Sadly, Sunday mornings can no longer be brunch days if you really want to knuckle down on those savings. The whole ‘avocado on toast thing’ was a bit of a culture war, but that cash has to go somewhere – in the bank or towards the inflated electricity bills of that cafe that is still using Edison light bulbs.


Go down the Jamie Oliver route and invest in a $70 pasta maker. Join the secretive and smug club that is made up of those who spend their Sunday afternoons listening to podcasts or Dean Martin recordings and roll their own pasta for the week. The OO-grade flower and pack of eggs will only set you back $5, and they will give you enough to make a few weeks’ worth of pasta.

Once you eventually get the knack of pasta making (the trick is in that initial roll of the dough through the machine, do it plenty of times until your dough is baby-bum smooth) and you are cracking eggs with a single hand like a madman, creating nutritious and delicious meals is ‘semplice’. That’s Italian for “$150,000 deposit in two years? Easy!”.

Homemade pasta just tastes better, there is no way around that. If you don’t feel like being healthy at all, a great sauce is to lightly burn some butter with a bunch of sage leaves, garlic, chopped chilli, and then garnish the finished plate with some ricotta and crushed walnuts/pinenuts/macadamia nuts.


Going hungry might actually be good for you

It’s not for everyone (especially those who are pregnant or who have diabetes), but intermittent fasting is increasingly common as an alternative to diets and a way to add a few years to your life expectancy. If it also means saving on the cost of your breakfast during the week, then home ownership is just the added bonus. Remember to take breaks, such as on weekends, where you can cook yourself silly.

Be sure to do your research, but the most common form of intermittent fasting is to go 16 hours without food (much of that taken up by sleep) and keep your eating within the remaining 8 hours (lunch and dinner). A practice as old as time itself (simply because humans have historically not had access to Uber Eats and instead had to spend a day or two without food), fasting is suggested to bring a suite of health benefits, including a substantial increase in the human growth hormone (good for your liver, good for your skin, good for building muscles, good for the heart), potential weight loss, cellular repair, inflammation relief, higher energy levels. The list goes on. Do it, don’t to it – this is not professional health advice.

Reconsidering your meat consumption


No one likes to hear it, but Australia does not have a healthy relationship with meat. The World Economic Forum state that Australia tops the list with 93 kg of meat per capita consumed per year (in 2013). This is two kilograms more than the US.

Without giving it up entirely, reconsider how much meat you eat and how much it is costing you. In terms of emissions, beef and lamb livestock have the largest impact. If you reduce it to once a week and eat a more varied diet of grains, lentils, vegetables and all those good things, alongside fish and other meat types, you may not only save for a house more easily but also help save the planet.

Bight the bullet and get your staples

Effectively cooking within a budget means planning well and buying all those staples that will see you through. These include spices, grains, sauces, rice, seasoning, lentils etc. Pretend you’re going to be living in the Antarctic in 1910 for a year – what would you buy?

Once you start planning out your weekly meals and are happily stocked with all those long-term shelf items, you can keep your prices down by heading to your local market on the weekend to stock up on all the good stuff. You don’t have to be a Type A personality to plan your meals, just sit down and map it out. Find ways to use similar ingredients to save money and enjoy becoming the next celebrity chef!