This week I’m challenging you to spend less on groceries while still eating well, simply by making use of what you already have and reducing waste.
Back when our grandparents were raising families, nothing went to waste. They’d lived through the depression and they knew how to make the most of every piece of food they had. Now I’m not suggesting we go back to reusing teabags each time you make a cup of tea, but I do think there is a lot to be said for shopping wisely, planning ahead and reducing waste. Both to save money and to reduce the amount of food we throw away each week.
How much food gets wasted each year?
In Australia, approximately 20% of the food we buy ends up in the bin. This adds up to over $1000 a year in wasted food being thrown away each year. What a waste of food and money!
This image from Foodwise gives some great insight into food waste, the cost, and why it is happening. Scroll to the bottom for some hints and ideas for this weeks $50 grocery challenge.
The $50 grocery challenge
The $50 grocery challenge (or $30 if you are a couple or small family) is based on spending no more than $50 on groceries for at least one week. To achieve this and still eat well you will need to make use of the food already stocked in your freezer, pantry and fridge. This budget has to include everything you buy from the supermarket including food, toiletries and other incidentals.
The idea is to still eat healthy, balanced, home-made foods that are full of nutrients and taste fabulous while reducing waste and saving you some money.
Start by doing an inventory of what you have and what you’ll need. Work out what products will be absolutely essential to buy (things like milk, toiletries, home supplies that you can’t do without etc). Keep in mind that it is possible to make many of your own foods and products cheaply and easily. Things like making your own bread and even yoghurt at home is not only possible but actually very easy.
It may be necessary to rethink some of your ideas on what is “essential”, and get a bit creative to fit everything you need into your budget!
Check out the freezer inventory below to keep track of what you have in stock.
Free freezer inventory printable
One of the easiest ways to reduce food waste and save money on groceries is to keep track of what you’ve already got in the freezer. This free freezer inventory printable is perfect for sticking on the freezer to keep track of what you already have.
How to shop with only $50
Once you know what you have, it’s time to work out a plan for what you’ll make. You’ll need to plan for everything from breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. A significant proportion of your budget will probably need to go on fresh fruit and possibly some fresh vegetables. You can often get fairly inexpensive frozen vegetables instead of buying fresh for the week. Some canned fruit can be a good option although buying fruit in season is generally cheaper.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of meal planning. Write out your meals and check that you have everything you will need. Look at ways you could bulk things out and make them go further. Don’t forget to make use of any canned supplies you have.
Once you know what your essential items are then you can work backwards from there. Toilet paper is pretty much essential but bread can be made. Use your budget to buy only the things you need and work out ways to make some of the things you don’t already have.
If you are doing the challenge with a friend, consider swapping some supplies. Maybe they have stacks of toilet paper but no shampoo? Perhaps you could cook up some big batches of food and do some exchanges. It’s amazing how well you can eat on just $50 when you put your mind to it!