I’m certain all mums know the answer to this. DON’T TAKE YOUR KIDS WITH YOU. I don’t now, but when I did, this is how it played out.
Fruit and veg section. Three bananas eating along the way to aisle 1, three organic fruit pouches sip, to aisle 2. Cornflakes, Rice Bubbles and Berry Bites for breakfast (who needs three cereals, kids apparently). Aisle four, ‘I’m hungry can we have a muesli bar?’ And so on until we reach the checkout and it was $280.
Does it need to be that much? No! If I didn’t take my kids, I suspect it would be closer to $180, which is pretty frugal for a family of five.
If you’re finding yourself with not much money at the end of the week, some changes need to be made and saving money without cramping your lifestyle might prove a bit difficult. Instead of making big sacrifices try starting small like your food bill and see how a little can add up to big savings.
Here are 13 tips that will lower your grocery bill — maybe as much as 50 percent!
1. Leave kids at home
It’s no surprise the first way to cut your food bill is not to take the kids. For obvious reasons, they eat along the way, want everything to go in the trolley and stamp and stomp their feet until they get it, and we give it to them so they don’t make a scene. Everything from snacks, sweets, drinks, cereals, toys and whatever else is at eye level for our hungry little people. Best off leaving them at home with dad/grandma and grandpa/babysitter/neighbour if at all possible!
2. Hungry? Steer clear of the grocery store
Like the kids, you will eat your way around or who knows what you’ll put in your trolley. Take the time to have a coffee and muffin before you go in. See it as me time and you’ll be less likely to buy junk food and processed meals.
3. Make a list
I love lists. I love making lists of all the lists I have to make, and food shopping is no exception. Going to the grocery store without one and you’re bound to forget something or get something you don’t need. Always check your fridge and cupboard and even sit down and plan a week’s worth of meals and ingredients you need. This will save you money at the shops and pop-ins during the week to get extra supplies.
Great thing about home cooking more often than not there is always leftovers. Spaghetti bolognese and chicken or beef casseroles are great dishes to heat up and have the next day. Flavours really gel well together over night in the fridge and somehow leftovers always seem to taste better the next day.
5. Find out ahead what you already have
Before you even make a list – have a look at what’s in the cupboard. Chances are you’ll find lots of hidden food treasures to make a few meals. Cupboards get bogged down with all sorts of tin food, sauces and jars. I bet there are a few meals waiting to be cooked, just add meat or veg. Each item that you already have is something you won’t have to buy.
6. Grow your own
Nothing tastes better than food you’ve grown. If you don’t have a garden, you can invest in a raised garden bed, which can fit most porches, verandas even a unit balcony. If you’re quite a shovel head in the garden, you can either start your garden from seed or pay a little more for small established plants. Good food to grow all year round is lettuce, kale, tomatoes, chillies, lemon, pumpkin and onions. It’s also a great opportunity to get the kids off the iPad and into the garden teaching them about healthy eating and nutrition.
7. Swap organic produce for conventional
Buying organic fruit, veg and meat is awesome when you can afford it, but if it’s time to go on a budget, it’s time to go with conventional produce. If you’re concerned with pesticides, washing all your produce with salty water will remove any contact pesticide residue.
8. Store brands
There is no shame in buying store brands, they may not have fancy labelling, but they have the same nutritional value – and will shave loads of your food bill. So what is the difference? Just the packaging. When you buy a brand name, you are paying for the company’s marketing campaign. Most foods come off the factory line exactly the same and are simply packaged into different containers, one generic and one name brand. This is called private labelling. So get down with the home brand and you will save a lot of money.
9. WHATEVER HAPPENS: Stick to your budget!
Try and stick to a budget. This might take you a couple of weeks to establish a food budget, but once you reach an average, you need to stick to it. If you have no boundaries, you will cruise down each aisle overspending like there is no tomorrow.
10. Shop around
All because you have shopped at the same supermarket for years and you know your way around like your own house, you might think there couldn’t possibly be anything cheaper out there. There is! Try other supermarkets, see their specials and compare prices. You might also save a lot shopping at discount stores.
11. Meal Planning
At Stay At Home Mum, we use this very simple and straightforward trick — meal planning. Before heading out to grocery shop, find out what’s in the fridge (See item #5), check on the expiry dates and plan on which of those needs to be cooked first. Plan meals that are simple and easy and those that will work around the goods already found in the fridge. We waste money on food we don’t get to eat — whatever you throw in the bin, it is costing you money! Here’s a meal planning guide for beginners that you might find helpful.
12. Buy from your local suppliers
Not only is it cheaper, but the meat, fruit and veggies are usually fresher than those in the supermarkets!!
13. Do your grocery shop online!
I find online grocery shopping really handy – it’s great for those times when you are too sick to leave the house, your kids are sick, or if you just don’t feel like dealing with people. It can also be cheaper as you aren’t tempted by the naughty little specials and knick-knacks around the supermarket that you are convinced at the time you need, but realise when you get home that you really don’t! Grocery shopping online really does make you think about exact quantities of what you need, and it tallies as you go, so you know exactly how much you’re spending. The supermarkets will often have online only specials which can save you money.
Some major supermarkets (like Woolies and Coles) have websites and/or apps where you can order your groceries (while you’re drinking wine and wearing your PJ’s!) and you can select a time that they can either deliver it all to your door (if you are in a delivery area) or “click and collect” (which means you still have to go into the supermarket, but they have it all ready and waiting for you when you get there!). The only drawback is that sometimes you do have to pay a delivery fee, but the supermarkets try to keep that cost down as much as they can.