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Life before Table Tucker

Before Table Tucker I was a typical time-poor working mum. Trips to the supermarket involved making rash buys from screaming supermarket shelves. They knew me by name. I thought I was happy in the comfort of grouse convenience dinners and packaged chips-and-dips. They sure looked inviting under those dazzling lights. Then, one day, as I watched the cashier’s screen counting up my stuff, I had a blinding moment of clarity. I was sick of being ‘ripped of ’ by my own lack of time and organisation.
I haven’t always been a time-poor working mum. I’ve also been the broke university student, working three jobs and living on toast for dinner. After that, I backpacked around the world living on instant noodles and beer. When I finally made it home, I was on a tight schedule. There were visa cards to pay for and pizzas to order. Cooking-for-one, or cooking at all, was not a choice I could afford or had the time to indulge in.
It wasn’t until my thirties that I learned the basics of cooking. Help arrived in the form of a friend who was leaving town. She left a box of recipe magazines on my doorstep one night on her way to the airport. There was no secret knock, just this little box of mags sitting on my porch crying out for someone to love them. I brought them in from the cold, patted the dust of them and lined them up across my kitchen bench. And so began my journey of finally learning to cook.
“Table Tucker puts control back in your hands.”
Meeting today’s challenges
What you now may hold in your hands is my answer to a few more of life’s challenges than just learning to cook. Not in my lifetime have I had the time to spend long evenings in the kitchen like my grandmother did. In this generation, with rising interest rates and high petrol prices, it is even harder.
To find the time to cook, youths, singles, students, partners, working families, pensioners and now a growing number of single parents are finding the simple act of eating well each week, while staying within budget, to be a real challenge. Then there is sanity. Those supermarket shelves are still screaming at us and it is difficult to stay focused. We now also have to meet these challenges while still being kind to the Earth.
So how are we going to manage all of this without compromising our lifestyles too much?

A total solution to the dinner dilemma

In this book I hope you will find, as I have, a total solution to the dinner dilemma.
Groceries take up a huge sum of our disposable income and world resources.
Table Tucker works behind the scenes to reduce the impact of these worries.
You will:

  • Find the extra time to enjoy the act of cooking.
  • Find the extra cash to ease your financial pressures.
  • Have the headspace for greater happiness, creativity and peace of mind.
  • Have more time to spend on the areas of your life that you love.
  • Reduce stress daily through better organisation.

And you can do it all while saving the world!
Table Tucker puts control back in your hands.

Eat your way to a better world

It is likely that you are already doing what you can toward helping the Earth, from taking eco bags to the shops to reducing your water usage. Table Tucker goes further by combining a number of simple core principles (See Core Principles p. 4) to achieve savings in time, money, sanity, petrol, waste, water and energy. All you need to do is use Table Tucker on a daily basis to eat your way to a better world! Pretty cool, eh?

Evolution and Table Tucker

I have evolved with Table Tucker as I am sure you will. I have changed from a convenience dinner mum to a more Earth-happy mum and conscious consumer. Now when I look at the goods in my basket or trolley I feel great about my impact on the Earth. I see fresh veggies in their jackets and much less packaging. Cooking is a pleasure because I feel great about my shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning-up habits. And, as you are soon to discover, the concept of only cooking three nights each week is blissful.

You can relax now

It is hard to believe that a little cookbook could bring such inner and outward calm. But let me assure you, TableTucker can.

“The best stories are built on
a fearless love for change.” Penina Petersen

Table Tucker

The Smart Cookbook Changing the Way You Shop, Cook, Eat and Live

Table Tucker is a revolutionary culinary manifesto written by an Aussie mum from the country who wanted to beat spiralling grocery prices and solve the eternal dilemma of what to cook for dinner. With her book, she’s made leftovers and buying groceries in bulk (and seasonally) fashionable, easy and seriously worth it. Table Tucker is the ultimate budget cookbook where the recipes and shopping lists work together to help you arrange your cooking schedule so you only have to prepare meals three times a week and then put your feet up! Slash your grocery bills with Table Tucker’s shopping lists to reduce waste and save you serious money on your household budget.

52 weeks of seasonal shopping lists, recipes & budget dinners

  • Save thousands on groceries every year
  • Save time, money and petrol by buying in bulk
  • Annual, seasonal and monthly pantries
  • Shopping lists for every season and week of the year!
  • Cook only three times each week and put your feet up
  • Amazing new quick-scan recipe format
  • Easy everyday recipes your mum would cook you
  • Uses seasonal veggies you can plant ahead of time
  • Earth-happy core principles
  • Flexible system that works for any situation
  • Meals account for lunches and leftovers too
  • Dinner served! 24/7 all year round
  • Instant inspiration anecdotes to ponder over
  • Easily delegate your shopping to others


There are lots revolutions out there pressuring us to take action. At Table Tucker we take a different view. We understand you are busy and that life leaves little time for much else. That’s why we’ve developed a holistic approach to life’s challenges. At Table Tucker all you have to do is enjoy a delicious dinner every night of the week to get big returns in time, money, sanity and good karma! The concept is simple and working for thousands of our readers!
Table Tucker is a brand new breed of smart cookbook. Our community is changing the world one meal at a time! In one lifetime a Table Tucker reader is typically gaining 5.2 years worth of days off, saving $456,300 dollars, enjoying priceless sanity, saving 21,654,360 litres of water and much more!
Collectively? Currently we don’t have a calculator big enough to document our cause! We just keep eating our delicious dinners while we take it all in..
And there’s more! We are dedicated to unleashing precious wisdom for both young, middle aged and old! We’re into love, happiness, passion, following your dreams and going on adventures.!
If you’d like to become part of something really big join us!
Ideal for students, singles, couples, single parents, working families, pensioners…well, everyone!


Wearing grungy green ugg boots she bought in New Zealand many years ago, Penina Petersen stands in the kitchen of her cosy rented house on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria’s little Mediterranean.

Cooking is furthest from her mind. Her dinners are planned out for the next year. By my estimations, tomorrow night will be ginger lime chicken and Asian veggies, Tuesday falafels, and a month on Friday she’ll be dishing up ham and mushroom penne to her husband and 4-year-old son.
Auckland-born Petersen is trying to religiously stick to the 52 weeks of menu plans and shopping lists on her culinary manifesto. She needs to know she is “on track” with her followers, that the meals she espouses are simple, colourful and delicious and, for her personal benefit, keep her saving money.
According to her calculations, if you follow her plan — cooking only three times a week and stretching out your basic grocery shop to once a month — you can save $456,300, around 21 million litres of water and earn 5.4 years of cooking days-off over a lifetime.
During the last couple of years on her Table Tucker regime, the Petersens saved enough to take their first family holiday, five days in Noosa.
Petersen’s story is not one of celebrity chef or Michelin star restaurateur offering up innovative and grandiose recipes. Gordon Ramsay would probably call her a fraud if she tried to sell herself as one. No, hers is a tale of perseverance, commonsense and self-belief; a typical mum wanting to make a difference in her family’s life and who saw a way to share it with other budget-conscious consumers.
These days who isn’t trying to save a few dollars on the supermarket shop? That’s why her publisher believes she’s onto a winner. Her originally self-published cookbook, Table Tucker, grabbed the attention of Australian homemakers last year, quickly selling out the 2500 copies she had made at her town’s local printer and sold on the internet.
When Hachette Publishing saw Petersen promoting her book on the Seven Network’s current affairs show Today Tonight last November, it scooped her up and relaunched the book, on sale in New Zealand and Australia this month under the same title.

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If there’s one thing that gets Aussies excited, it’s food. We are truly a nation of food lovers. Which makes it is all the more surprising that we waste so much of it – 4 million tonnes a year, in fact. This is the equivalent of each one of us throwing a loaf of bread in the trash, every single day. However only one in seven people in Australia admit to wasting more food than they ought to. Less than half of households recycle any food waste at all.
Food waste isn’t just damaging to environment (the carbon footprint of food waste in Australia is equivalent to that of more than 1 million cars). It’s also expensive. The small amounts of food we throw out each week quickly add up to a substantial cost over the course of a year. By cutting waste in the home we can each save money and do our bit to tackle food waste. Here’s five simple tips to reduce food waste and save money in the home.
Get creative with your cooking 
Keep a close eye on expiry dates and aim to use products nearing the end of their shelf life first. This can lead to some unorthodox and exciting combinations of ingredients. Think of it like a challenge on an episode of MasterChef. Dishes like omelettes, stir fries and oven bakes are good for using up ingredients, as you can just throw in what you like with the basic ingredients. Also try to make meals which can easily be stored in the freezer, for example soups, curries or smoothies.
Shop sensibly
It sounds obvious, but simply buying less food is one of the most effective ways to tackle food waste. Plan your meals before you leave for the supermarket, and only buy what you need for those meals. Don’t get tempted by special offers on items that you don’t actually need. If possible, buy less food at more regular intervals so you can more accurately gauge how much to buy. And when you’re in the fresh produce aisle, remember there’s nothing wrong with the wonky veg – it all tastes just as good!
Refrigerate properly
A few simple changes to the way you store fruit and veg in the fridge can make it last longer. Do you know the difference between ethylene-producing and ethylene-sensitive produce? Knowing which of these two groups various fruit and veg belong in can help you store them appropriately and prolong their shelf life. Check out our blog post on how it works.
Keep the fridge at around 4 degrees Celsius to keep food fresher for longer. Rotate produce as you buy it, so items bought first (and therefore likely to go out of date sooner) are at the front and easier to access.
Serve up sensible portions
Try serving smaller portion sizes. We generally tend to over-serve, when we should be doing things the opposite way around. Start with less and whoever is still hungry can go back for more. Any leftovers will make a snack for another time. You can also try using smaller plates. It’s a little psychological trick that makes it seem as though there is more food than there actually is, which can make the smaller portions less obvious.
Try your hand at composting
Compost is nature’s way of recycling food that would otherwise be wasted. The green-fingered among us can use a small corner of the garden to start their own compost heap. The compost can eventually be used for growing more fruit and vegetables, or for dressing your lawn and helping to make your garden even greener. We recommend checking out this guide to composting from eartheasy.
These tips and infographic were brought to you by Helpling, an online marketplace for booking trusted and vetted cleaners in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Leftover Tips

by Penina

Leftover Tips

Got leftover roast meat or chicken? Try these!


Serve with salad between slices of toasted Turkish bread for a gourmet look.


Top with shredded roast meat, veggies and cheese.

Rice dish

Serve over rice with veggies and gravy.


Add veggies, Hokkien Noodles and soy sauce for a quick stir-fry.

Warm wrap

Slice up leftovers and put into a wrap with salad.

Warm salad

Reheat meat and make a salad.

Meat Sauce Leftovers

Got leftover meat sauce? Try these!


  • Mince tacos
  • Nachos
  • Taco salad


  • Lasagne
  • Spaghetti bolognese


  • Quick shepherd’s pie


  • Meat sauce pizza

Sandwiches and wraps

  • Cheesy meat subs
  • Mince wraps
  • Sloppy Joe toasties


  • Bolognese baked potatoes
  • Stuffed capsicums
  • Stuffed eggplant
  • Stuffed zucchini
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Roast beef leftovers are a fantastic way to save on groceries each week. A roast provides a quality family meal as the weekend comes to a close. This delicious meaty meal is also great for supplying cheap and delicious sandwich meat for the coming week.

Leftover ideas using roast beef

This cheat sheet delivers meal suggestions for using up roast beef leftovers. If the meal suggestion you choose is a dinner idea, cook up this meal the night you cook your roast. Now you can freeze this meal for a later date and enjoy a no-cook evening when you just cannot be bothered cooking. If possible cook up extra batches of each meal. Put extra portions in the fridge for tomorrow night’s dinner or freeze for a later date (if freezing the meal is practical). Keep this list handy when planning meals for the month and lunches for the week. It is a great idea to cook a roast every Sunday so that you can create cheap and delicious sandwich fillings for the week.

Easy and quick

  1. Beef and bacon burger
  2. Beef and bean burritos
  3. Beef and cheese bagels
  4. Beef and cheese melts
  5. Beef and cheese sandwich
  6. Beef and gravy sandwiches
  7. Beef and horseradish sandwich
  8. Beef and mustard baguette
  9. Beef and mustard pitas
  10. Beef and Philly baguette
  11. Beef burgers
  12. Beef burritos
  13. Beef fajitas
  14. Beef pancakes
  15. Beef chimichangas
  16. Beef salad rolls
  17. Beef wraps
  18. Beef, noodles and veggies
  19. Cold beef platter
  20. Thai beef salad
  21. Toasted sandwiches

In the oven

  1. Beef and rice casserole
  2. Baked stuffed capsicum
  3. Beef and veggie potato bake
  4. Beef and vegetable pie
  5. Beef calzone
  6. Beef casserole
  7. Beef pizza with BBQ sauce
  8. Cheesy baked potatoes
  9. Cornish pasties
  10. Meatlover’s pizza
  11. Meat Pie (with thickened gravy)

In the blender

  1. Beef and veggie baby food

On the stovetop

  1. Beef and veggie soup
  2. Beef chop suey
  3. Beef fried rice
  4. Beef nachos
  5. Beef ragout
  6. Beef mushroom pasta
  7. Beef curry
  8. Beef stew
  9. Beef stroganoff
  10. Beef with blue cheese sauce
  11. Beefy tomato soup
  12. Stir fry with noodles
  13. Beef and roast veggie stir fry
  14. Beef and cheese crepes
  15. Beef and roast veggie salad
  16. Beef and tomato pasta
  17. Beef and veggies on rice

Want more great ways to save money on groceries?

Save thousands on groceries over time with the many practical money saving resources in the Savings Room. Learn bulk-cooking tips for the kitchen for saving time and sanity during a busy week. Check out the cheat sheets in our PRO section!

Cheat sheets for saving on groceries | Use up leftovers, create quick and easy meals, find healthy budget lunch and dinner ideas

  • 75+ awesome ways to save on alcohol
  • 250 essential tips for saving on food and groceries
  • 50 sneaky ways to hide fruit and veggies in food
  • 130+ easy cook-ahead dinners for the freezer
  • 150+ beaut budget dinner ideas
  • 50+ simple meal ideas using sausages
  • 250+ super foods for a better you
  • 100 happy and healthy high fibre foods
  • 50 great ideas for using up roast beef leftovers
  • 100 wicked ways with a supermarket roast chicken
  • 300+ easy ideas for a happy lunch box
  • 100 easy dinner ideas using minced beef
  • 50 simple ways to use up leftover Christmas ham
  • 100+ budget meal ideas using Aldi ingredients

Printables for creating budget meals and weekly menu planning

  • Essentials grocery list
  • Blank grocery list
  • Monthly menu planner

Read more to access hundreds of time and money saving cheat sheets & printables!

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