Grocery shopping is a necessary evil. But there are so many ways to cut the fat – frugal living means you have more money in your pocket at the end of the week! More money at the end of the week means less debt and more fun!
1. Shop with a List
Sit down and plan your weekly/fortnightly/monthly meals including school lunches and work lunches – and work it all out. An Excel spreadsheet or similar is perfect to set out all the ingredients you need. By not using a list you risk missing an important component of the food shop – and means more trips back – where you can be tempted by their tricks! Keep a list on the fridge or somewhere you will see it and add to it as required. Try and train your family to do the same!
2. Don’t Shop When you’re Hungry
Don’t go when you’re hungry. This is a common tip, but it’s true: when you’re hungry, you want to buy all kinds of junk. You’ll end up spending a lot more. Eat a good meal first, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your list.
3. Have a Budget
Know how much you can spend on groceries and stick to that limit. Having a book or using the internet so you know the prices of grocery items is time consuming – but can help you stick to that budget. Do a rough running total as you shop so you know how much you have spent, and how much you have to go.
4. Keep a Pantry Staples List
We have a free downloadable version for you! Staples mean you always have the cooking basics in your cupboard – and replace them as needed. Items like flour and sugar and milk. Know what you usually stock in your pantry and pick up extra if they are on sale. It’s also a great idea to keep a few easy meals on hand in the pantry – like pasta and pasta sauce for those nights you are tempted by take out!
But only on non-perishable items unless you have the freezer room! Especially items like toilet paper and toothpaste that have no expiry date. Store them in your linen cupboard when they are on sale and save save save! Don’t just buy items on sale for the sake of it – make sure they are what you need, what you will use and a brand you are familiar with. No point buying toothpaste on sale if no one in the family will use it!
6. Keep Frozen Veggies in the Freezer
Personally I adore frozen veggies – there is never any waste. It won’t wilt and turn into water in the bottom of the fridge, it doesn’t take much preparation, and they are nice and quick (7 minutes in the microwave with a splash of water). Great for nights you really don’t feel like cooking. Buy the bigger bags to get the best deal and make sure once opened you seal the bag with a clip to prevent freezer burn!
7. Keep a Food Price Diary
Make a note of the foods you buy all the time – like Tomato Soup for example. Write the price down in a book or in a spreadsheet – it will help you keep a tally of what’s on sale, what’s good value for money, and what is expensive. Okay so this is a BIG JOB…. but if you have the time – it’s a great way to evaluate how much you spend on groceries. Use your shopping docket to enter the prices into the spreadsheet. It’s also a great list to use when compiling your shopping list!
8. Eat Less Meat
Meat is very expensive. It is easy to find ways to make your meat stretch that little bit further. Bulk it up with veggies in a pie or with pasta and sauce. Try eating a few vegetarian meals per week – they are delicious and cheap! Think outside the square and look at food from other cultures. A lovely chickpea curry or falafels with hummus and tabbouleh make for a lovely change.
9. Make Your Own Lunches
If you spent $8 a day on lunch and a drink – over the course of a year that lunch would cost you $2,240.00. That would buy a LOT of groceries. So stock up on different types of breads and fillings, salads. Cook a little extra every night and take some left overs for lunch from the night before. We also have lots of great lunch ideas on the website. Click Here!
10. Try Freezer Cooking
I adore freezer cooking – it involves cooking in bulk and freezing in portions to eat another night – we have written a whole e-book on it! It saves time because dinner is already made, and money because you can purchase food in bulk. Typical examples of foods that freeze well are spaghetti bol sauce or even filling for the Chicken Pot Pie!
11. Buy a Crock Pot
It will be the best investment you have ever made. Crock pots will cook anything – including roasts and desserts. Generally you just cut up a whole bunch on ingredients, throw them in the crock pot and leave them for 8 hours and come back to a perfectly cooked meal. Especially great in winter for casseroles and stews and a great way to use the cheaper cuts of meat. For some great crockpot recipes – Click Here!
12. No Name Brands
Generic brands are a great way to slash your grocery budget. Especially items like flour, sugar and rice – at the end of the day- is buying a name brand for more money really going to give you a different result? Then you can have extra money to spend on the important items that do matter, like chocolate!
13. Keep an Eye on the Register
Supermarkets are not infallible, in fact they make mistakes more often then you’d imagine! Keep a mental note on prices and watch them as they get scanned, especially the items on sale. More often than not if a mistake is found, you get the first item for free!
14. Compare the Best Deals
All supermarket chains to a weekly specials catalog – if you don’t receive it just pop on-line. Plan your shop carefully – if you are out of nappies and someone has them 25% off – it is worth making a special trip for such a significant saving. However weigh up the distances travelled etc first or you’ll blow all those savings on petrol money.
15. Cook Like a Nanna
Don’t waste ANYTHING – go through your fridge and cupboard and make sure you use something up before it turns into mush or is out of date. Think creatively how you can use a particular item. Throwing away food is like throwing away money! This is where your crockpot can really come in handy! Make sure you totally clean out your fridge before grocery shopping – use up anything in the back and make sure you have plenty of room for the new groceries.
So those are the Stay at Home Mum’s tips for frugal grocery shopping! Enjoy!