Grocery expenditure is one of the biggest forms of angst for most families. Most of us can feel like we’re being eaten out of house and home as the grocery tab reaches triple digits. It is one of the largest expenses in my family’s budget. I have tried numerous creative means to cut our family grocery bill down, and admittedly, I still don’t get it right.
On one trip to Woolworths to get a few last-minute things (poor planning on my behalf), I struck up a conversation with one of the cashiers. We were discussing the price of groceries and how huge an impact it has on a family budget. She stated that she frequently spent around $350–$400 per week and I immediately froze with my jaw hanging agape. It must have looked odd because she followed up with, “There are three of us to feed, though!”
As I left the supermarket, I reflected that her substantial grocery bill was similar to what I used to spend before I began watching my grocery bill like a hawk. As it stands currently, we tend to spend around $130–$160 per week supporting our family of six. While it could be cut down further, there is the convenience factor to consider. I’d love to have my dinner made using my home-grown veggies and have my kids spreading honey from our 100% organic backyard beehive. Time constraints and a puny backyard inhibit this degree of frugality, though.
One of the biggest savers I have found has been to shop at Aldi. Some of you reading this might be scoffing already either because you categorically refuse to shop there, or because you already shop there and this seems profoundly obvious. Either way, I encourage you to give it a go. Costco can also be great for saving, but I lack the storage space for a 1.8kg pumpkin pie or a 2kg jar of jalapeños.
The Strategic Budgeter:
Be intentional with your weekly grocery bill.
- Write a weekly meal plan including all three main meals and any in-between meals. List the exact ingredients onto an app like Google Keep and only buy what is on that list. Stick to your weekly meal plan for a few successive weeks before devising a new meal plan.
- Eliminate unhealthy snacks. Snacks are bad for your fitness plans, overall health and budget. A bag of chips, a block of chocolate, ice cream, bikkies, the list goes on. These add up. Stick to fruit, nuts, yoghurt or other similar foods. These also carry an expense, but you are far less likely to pig out on an entire bag of nuts.
- If you’ve got the skills, the land and the time- plant a garden!
- The average adult requires 8,800 kilojoules per day. Most of us eat well over this, hence our ever-expanding waistlines. Stick to the daily allowance and watch your waist and your bills shrink.
- I’ve already said it, but shop at Aldi. Four aisles and you can whiz up and down and have your shop completed in less than 20 minutes.
- Alternately, buy in bulk at Costco and distribute your surplus goods with friends. Consider buying as a collective and divvying the food supplies out.
- Buy in volume when things are on sale. For example, when cornflakes are half-price, buy enough for eight weeks. Most mainstream supermarkets run specials in eight-week rotations.
- Stop food waste. Eat what you need, cling-wrap the rest and save the leftovers.
- Eat slowly. It takes approximately 15–20 minutes before your stomach registers that it is full. Slowing down your eating reduces the chance of overconsumption.
- Type “cheap meals” into Pinterest or Google for some great cooking recipes on a budget. Sometimes all you need is a few ideas.
- Drink more water and less juice, soft drinks, coffee and alcohol.
- Consider getting takeaway instead of eating out at a restaurant, and try to limit this to a once-a-week special occasion rather than make it a daily habit.
- Consider substituting frozen vegetables instead of fresh. Fresh vegetables are fabulous but go from ripe to rotten relatively quickly and can be more expensive by comparison. Research points to most frozen goods having equal the vitamins and nutrients as their fresh counterparts.
- Get an energy-efficient deep freezer. Cook in bulk and freeze the other meals.
- Not every meal has to be meat-heavy. Meat and fish can be incredibly expensive on the weekly budget. There are lots of vegetables laden with protein that can act as substitutes.
- Visit a market near the close and haggle to get some bargains.
- Enjoy the simple fare. A pumpkin, dried herbs and fresh bread from the bakery can be all you need for a tasty pumpkin soup that can last you two or three meals.
This post was an extract from ‘A Guide to Budget Brilliance’ filled with 79 budgeting hacks. Click the link button to download the whole guide. If you would like to be updated with more budgeting ideas, then make sure you subscribe to receive the updates.