Freshly Made vs Pre-Made Food Prices

I am sick of hearing about food prices and the cost of food. I know prices have gone up and this is shown in the price of restaurants. Even my menu I would like to be more affordable but it’s not possible I charge the minimum I can to meet the budget as per any company in any industry. However what bothers me is the complaints about food prices from people who follow this up by buying frozen or dried mash, pre chopped onions and other “convenience foods”.

I actually think they are quite inconvenient foods, you can save so much money by taking just that little extra time and effort to create the same thing you can buy pre-frozen or pre-made.

There are some culprits that are worse than others, I’ve already mentioned the premade frozen mash and frozen chopped onions that come in at $4.99 and $1.99 respectively at the supermarkets when fully priced and these are just basics, however I’m going to focus on some meals and over the next few months will post my results compared to frozen or pre-made results, even if I lose I will post it and see how much you can save by buying fresh.

So I’m starting with cannelloni. Now I can’t compete with the 8 minute cooking time on the frozen one however if you plan ahead and have it ready made you could probably reheat mine in about 5 minutes which would be quicker. But when making it the dish would take about 30-45 minutes.

My recipe I have developed is a quick version of cannelloni as oppose to traditional cannelloni, and I use kiwi dip as my white sauce, pre made cannelloni tubes and tinned tomatoes. If you have heaps of time you can make your own white sauce or béchamel, make you own cannelloni and in season make your own tomato sauce and make the whole recipe even cheaper again.

The cannelloni I found was $7.99 per portion from Countdown! So for four people that’s $31.96 and I tell you the portion size is about 1/3 smaller than mine and you WILL have to eat something else with it, in fact a bit of garlic bread with both wouldn’t go a miss.

The ingredients for my cannelloni are:-

12 Cannelloni tubes (18 per box)               $1.59

1 Leek                                                     $2.01

2 Courgettes                                            $5.94

1 Tub Kiwi dip onion flavour                       $3.96

1 Lemon                                                  $0.00 from a lemon tree you could steal from a neighbour they won’t mind and if you need to 50c at a Farmers’ Market is all it will take

200g Cheese                                             $1.79

1 Tinned tomato                                        $2.01

1 Tomato soup                                          $3.38

200ml Chicken stock                                   $0.00 Made from boiling the bones from your roast

Salt and pepper                                          $0.10 approx.


Total                                                                      $20.78

So my version cost over $11 less! It may not seem like enough but take into account that if you saved that much over 365 days (although I understand people eat out etc.) that would be a massive $4015!


Anyway here’s how to make my version in 30 minutes.


  1. Pre-set oven to 200°, finely chop courgettes and leeks and set aside.
  2. Add oil, salt and pepper to a frying pan.
  3. Add the leeks and courgettes to the frying pan and cook until tender.
  4. Meanwhile put tomato, soup, crushed tinned tomatoes and chicken stock in a pot and bring to the boil and reduce by 1/3.
  5. When the courgettes and leeks are tender add the lemon juice and zest and the kiwi dip. Immediately put onto a tray and chill for 5 mins in the fridge.
  6. Pour half of the tomato sauce into you oven dish and fill the cannelloni tubes with your chilled mix preferably using a piping bag.
  7. Put the tubes into your baking dish, cover with the remaining sauce top with cheese and bake on high temperature until the tubes are cooked and the cheese has melted and coloured on the top.
  8. ENJOY!