Aside from housing, groceries are most family’s biggest weekly expense. The amount you can spend is literally limitless and if you enter the supermarket without a plan you are doomed to fail from the start. Learning habits that cut the cost of the meals you prepare can save you hundreds at the supermarket. Here are my top tips for reducing your grocery budget and keeping your spending under control. I personally have a grocery budget of $150 a week for my family (2 little boys, my hubby & I). I can usually keep it closer to $120 but allow myself some extra. This includes everything from nappies to fruit & veg, meat and toiletries. It can be done!
How to plan ahead to reduce your grocery budget
I cannot emphasis this enough. Meal planning saves time & money & reduces waste. If you want to take the work out of meal planning you can register for monthly meal plans here. They are budget friendly, kid approved & yummy as well as being quick & easy to prepare. Whether you use my meal plans or do your own, meal planning will save you money!
Reduce your meat intake
Most people eat too much meat. You don’t need a kg of meat to serve a meal for a family of 4. Use lots of vegetables, beans and pulses to bulk out meals and serve them with rice, couscous etc to keep the big eaters full. 500g of meat in this house does 4 full serves or 2 large adult serves and 4-6 children’s serves. I’ve never had guests complain they went hungry!
Choose cheaper cuts of meat
Slow cooked meals using cheaper cuts of meat are delicious and easy to make. If you don’t have a slow cooker, consider buying one. The savings in meat will make it well worthwhile.
Divide out your meat into portions before you freeze it
This doesn’t sound like a money saving tip but the reality is that if you freeze a kg on mince then chances are you will cook and eat the whole kg for the next meal you pull it out for. If you divide it up you are more likely to cook a suitable portion and bulk it out with veggies.
Cook in bulk and freeze
Having some meals ready to go in the freezer is a great way to save money and reduce the urge for take away. I personally precook most of my children’s meals and freeze them in portions. It saves me time and stress and keeps everyone happy.
Bake at home
Pre-make snacks, muesli bars and other goodies. Choose things you can freeze or that will store in an airtight container for the week.
Raid your freezer and pantry
Next time you get set for a grocery shop take an inventory of your pantry and freezer. I find that about once every six weeks or so I can buy only fresh fruit, vegetables, milk & bread and then raid my freezer and pantry for the rest of the ingredients. If you can cut one shop every 6 weeks you will save thousands every year.
How to spend less at the supermarket
Write a list (and stick to it!)
If it isn’t on the list it doesn’t go in the trolley. Simple. I do make exceptions for things I “truly” forgot. That doesn’t include that yummy pack of biscuits on special though…
Stop buying packaged stuff
Pre-packaged food is not only far more expensive it is also usually far less nutritious. Open your pantry and turn over the latest packed mix you’ve bought to look at the ingredients. It isn’t pretty… Lots of numbers mean additives, preservatives and rubbish your body doesn’t need. When I shop I aim to buy food as close to nature as possible. That means less premade sauces, less powdered flavourings, meat without pre-prepared seasonings, fresh fruit & veg (or frozen, as long as it’s only veggies in there) etc. You would be amazed how much you can save by simply avoiding the packaged foods. Kids don’t need pre-packaged muesli bars and mini yoghurt tubes. You can make so much of this quickly and easily at home (or divvy out larger quantities into smaller servings for yoghurt etc).
Bulk buy essentials
Buying in bulk for laundry powder, toilet paper, dishwashing tablets, toiletries etc saves money and it avoids impulse buys during your weekly shop. Also look out for deal sites (I use grocery run quite often) and discount stores for good deals.
Buy home brand for basics
Flour is flour. Rice is rice. Unless you have an ethical reason for choosing a particular brand, buy home brand for basics. It can be 3-4 times cheaper and it saves a huge amount of money over time.
Aldi is your friend
If you have an Aldi near you, shop there. There may be some things you need to go elsewhere for but Aldi really does save you money. It has taken me a while to convert but I can now do 80% of my shopping there and am happy with the quality & cost savings. I find Aldi saves you money in two ways, one is the cheaper products but the other is the reduced choice. I used to hate this but now I’ve realised that once you stop buying packaged stuff the reduced choice isn’t an issue.
How do you cut your grocery expenses?