Cheap cooking for crowds


You’ve gotta love the GFC!


How to feed a crowd cheaply?

I know that sounds nuts but really there are some good aspects of global financial obliteration.

We’re all in it together, for example. Though some countries have fared better than others. NZ doesn’t seem as badly hit as the UK and over the past nine months since we came back from England I’ve been trying to figure out why.

I think I’ve got it.

We have access to cheaper food here. Even in the big cities. And we have access to free food too in the form of seafood and fish and berries and household vege gardens. When I was growing up here it was standard for the family to have a kitchen garden brimming with veges. Admittedly Mum and Dad used to grow all the yucky veges like tomatoes and silverbeet but their saving grace was that they had cunningly planted our garden with apple, mandarin, crab apple, macadamia, tamarillo, plum, and peach trees.

Every year Mum would bottle and jar and freeze excess fruit. She even did it when we were living in Fiji. The memory of the guava chewing gum (a chewy concoction turned from the intended jelly to chewing gum by raw sugar!) still makes me smile.

Our last house had a lemon tree but not a lot of other edible plants, but this house is full of em. We have the most amazing garden full of apple, grapefruit, mandarin, lemon, lemonade (there is a thing!), avocado and two brilliant Feijoa trees.


At least two lemon trees and one lemonade tree in our garden. Lemonade – cross between lemon and orange. Yum!



And the previous owners thoughtfully put in this gorgeous herb garden. Have you ever seen parsley so tall?



I can see a whole lot of Gremolata in my future!

But it’s not just in our own gardens that we have access to cheap food, but also in the shops there seems to be much more available at a much cheaper price. Maybe not in the supermarkets, but definitely in the  small fruit shops and some of the Chinese supermarkets.

I’ve found that  Fruit World does a weekly special of slightly spoiled fruit and veges for about $3. It’s quite fun seeing what’s in the box and figuring out what to do with it. It makes me feel all virtuous and domesticated.

This week’s box had a number of pears with small spots of stone/hail? damage, so I decided to boil them up and turn them into pear jelly.


Letting the grated pear and juice drip into the pot.

And I’ve got over-ripe Kiwifruit in the freezer ready to morph into Kiwifruit sorbet. And don’t mention the black-spotted bananas in the freezer that are about to become banana cake. Funny thing is that it’s quite fun figuring out how to make the food supplies stretch and even better fun picking food from your own garden.

Best of all is knowing that even if things get really, really tight I will be able to muttter ‘Let them eat {banana/lemon?} cake!’ quite happily.

My Wellington bloggy mate NZ Ecochick challenged me to reveal the contents of my fridge and join in with her linky, and I’ll admit I baulked a little at the challenge. My fridge was pretty much empty when she invited me to join in on Friday. Back then there was a bottle of half-finished wine, a slurp of milk, a few eggs ,various jars of out-of-date sauces and leftover plates of homemade chickpea curry that no-one ate. But now, after the vege shop extravaganza and virtuous pear jelly making I can happily swing open the fridge and reveal a cornucopia of leafy green things.


How to feed a crowd cheaply?

If the question the GFC has forced us to ask is ‘how to feed a crowd cheaply?’ the answer is surely – grow your own and eat more fruit and vege.

What do you think? How do you feed your crowd more cheaply? Would love to hear your ideas and tips and recipes below. 

Do share!

* Gremolata recipe is Annabel Langbein’s recipe in her new book Free Range Life Summer Annual available now at all good bookstores and online for those out of NZ. This book sings of summer!

VegemiteVix is a very proud #freerangefoodie participating in the #FreeRangeLife promotional campaign. All opinions above are however my food frank own!






'Cheap cooking for crowds' has 8 comments

  1. November 3, 2013 @ 11:47 am MidlifeSinglemum

    I’m so jealous of your bountiful garden. I’ve been blogging all October and now into November about building up a store cupboard and ‘shopping’ from it for free. This way your only food outlay is fresh produce (unless you grow it), some meat and dairy. I also believe in filling up on soup at the beginning of each meal in the winter – cheap and you need serve less other food.


    • November 3, 2013 @ 5:20 pm vegemitevix

      The soup course is a good idea. I know I made a fair few soups in winter too. Now in summer I’m trying to bulk meals up with two or three salads. But the real trick here is to eat seasonally isn’t it? Food in season is always cheaper and so much tastier.


  2. November 3, 2013 @ 12:13 pm Madeleine @ NZ Ecochick

    Wow your new garden sounds amazing!!! I have a baby avo in cant wait for fruit. Fingers. legs and toes crossed Mx


    • November 3, 2013 @ 5:19 pm vegemitevix

      It is pretty cool. Oh and I didn’t mention, we also have a grapevine. 🙂


  3. November 4, 2013 @ 10:44 pm Joanne T Ferguson

    G’day Vicki and admire the sounds of your new garden too!
    My biggest hint and tip is a simple one, know what’s in your pantry, rotate, rotate, rotate, look out for local co-ops where you can benefit from bulk buying but at GREATLY reduced rates for bulk cooking; vacuume seal bags…magic in savings for a crowd! Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as part of Sonia’s What’s In My Fridge


    • November 5, 2013 @ 10:17 am vegemitevix

      Great advice Joanne! I do try to do that but the only real problem I come across is time. I’m working more than full-time at the moment and I find that I need to shop around to really get the best deals, and sometimes the supermarket is just so much easier. It’s a hard trade off – good cheap food vs convenience.


  4. November 5, 2013 @ 3:02 pm Bronnie

    I love your garden! My Dad grows lemonade fruit too. We have a fledgling garden here, and love it. So far we have rockmelon, pumpkin, passionfruit and herbs. We would have planted more, but it’s drought time here and our rainwater tank is empty. We are waiting it to rain to soften up the dirt enough for us to dig deep enough for us to plant! There is something wonderful about growing your own food and creating yummy meals from it!


  5. November 15, 2013 @ 11:42 am Wellington Chic

    I so admire amazingly creative ladies like you who can visualise what they can do with food in advance…It’s an area that I am sadly lacking in! It must be so nice eating the fruits (or vegies) of your labour from your own garden.
    I love the ‘idea’ of a garden, but don’t have the natural passion for it.


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