Nifty Tips for Reducing Your Grocery Bill
Is your grocery bill getting totally out of control? It seems every week that I shop, it seems to cost more and more. It’s pretty scary just how much it costs for feed the family – and that’s not even buying the fancy stuff! Here is how to save money on your grocery bill.
When trying to save money and budget – the grocery bill is probably the easiest way to reign in spending. All it takes is a bit of planning ahead – and trust me – once you start getting into the habit of buying only what you need rather than just ‘going shopping and grabbing whatever…’ – you will soon see those savings adding up.
Here are some easy tips everyone can do to reduce that bill!
Tip 1: Before you Leave Home – Check your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
What do you already have in your cupboard, fridge and freezer that you can turn into a meal? Get out a pen and paper and do a stocktake of what you have. Get out that bit of meat at the back of the freezer (provided it’s not been in there more than 12 months). Sad looking carrots in the bottom of the fridge? Provided they aren’t inedible, chop them up and whack them in a casserole or grate them to use in a carrot cake. Apples all bruised? – make an Apple Charlotte or use them in an Apple Pie.
To stretch your food further, you have to design a menu around what you have to minimize wastage. Making your food go further and using up what you have before re-stocking is just plain good sense.
If you are constantly throwing out food in your home because it goes bad before you get a chance to use it – try our Red Basket Method!
The Red Basket Method
Now your basket doesn’t need to be red – but as I have a house full of all boys – red works as it stands out! Place the red basket in the fridge – and place any item that is nearing the used-by date or needs using up – into the basket. The basket has to be front and centre in the fridge to work.
If the kids ask for something to eat – they look in the basket first.
Cooking lunch? – look in the basket first!.
It’s like making a game out of your fridge – the challenge it to get that basket empty! This is my red basket at the moment – it has a couple of zucchini’s, some yoghurt and sour cream – all which will go towards dinner or lunches in the next day or so!
Tip 2: Plan What You Are Going to Eat in the Next Week (Meal Prep)
Plan your meals for the week or fortnight before you go shopping. Write it up and put it on the fridge so you know ingredients you have for whatever meal you feel like tonight (that’s on the list!). Try to only go to the shops if you run out of fresh fruit and vegetables. Bread and milk can be purchased in bulk and frozen if you have the room.
If you have a good plan as to what you are going to enjoy eating, you can plan for it accordingly and add the necessary ingredients to your shopping list.
Weeknight Dinners Should Not be Complicated!
Dinner doesn’t need to be complicated especially during the week – we are busier parents than ever before – so think simple meals that can be stretched for lunches the next day. If you are tired – think about simple ideas such as:
HINT: I use the front of my fridge as a whiteboard – and write out the meals I plan on making for the next week in advance. This stops the ‘What’s for dinner tonight Mum’ (which drives me mental). Plus because you are looking at it all the time, it just becomes a habit to plan and have it laid out for the whole family to see.
Download our FREE pantry staples list to help you!
More Reading: 105 Cheap Recipe Ideas Perfect for Busy Families
Watch Your Portion Control
Portion control is important for two reasons – health and money. We are all getting fatter – and that’s because we eat way too much. So cutting down on portions not only is much better for us but also helps us save money on our grocery bill.
Instead of larger portions, serve with more vegetables or a side salad. Add a vegetable bake or a bread roll on the side.
Cheapest Ingredients to Buy
When putting together your grocery bill, think about those basic ingredients that are cheap – but filling. Items such as:
- Beans and lentils
- Rolled Oats
- Rice and Pasta
- Chicken Pieces
Make those cheap ingredients the basis for your menu plan. You can still eat delicious food on a budget.
If you want to challenge yourself – try our $50 Weekly Shop Challenge!
Tip 3: Don’t Do All Your Shopping at the Supermarket.
Make sure you check out the discount stores for items like washing up powder and dishwasher tablets, they often have great deals as they take the over-supply from the big chains – and pass those savings on to you.
So check out:
- Local Markets
- Country Markets
- Asian Supermarkets
- Discount Online Shopping Sites (we have a list of the best 10)
- Online Bulk Supply Stores
- Bakeries often offer bulk bread mixes or muffin mixes which work out much cheaper.
- Local Greengrocer
- Local Butcher
Don’t just go to your local supermarket just because it is where you have always gone. Shop around, look for sales. Go at different times of the day – you might stumble upon an afternoon where all the meat or bakery good are marked down – grab em and freeze them for later! Bargains save you money!
Do Your Vegetables Go Home to Die?
Now I adore fresh fruit and vegetables – but (as you can see in my Red Basket), I often forget about them before I get to use them all up. It happens. So – if you are like me – try and ensure you have a good stock of frozen vegetables in your freezer.
It is proven now that frozen vegetables have just as many nutrients as the fresh variety – plus they never go to waste!
Tip 4: Check for Specials Online
Before you leave to go food shopping, check online for the best weekly specials. Sometimes it’s worth going to more than one shop if they have something on sale that you use a lot of. Just beware that often sale items have a shorter shelf or fridge life, so make sure you will use it up before it goes bad. Discount supermarkets such as Aldi or IGA are a great place to get good basic staples and don’t discount the generic brands. Try them first to see if you like them before purchasing in bulk
Here are the websites to check the details on specials:
Tip 5: Needs Versus Wants
Supermarkets are designed to tempt you to spend. Before you reach out and grab something that wasn’t on your list – ask yourself – do you really NEED it? After all – we are trying to reduce the bill. If I’m on a really tight weekly budget, I like to shop how my Great Grandmother might have shopped – basics – use up everything – no wastage. Think tea, flour, sugar, butter etc. No processed items – you can cook it yourself. Know what’s in your food, it is healthier for your family and much tastier.
‘But I don’t have time’ you cry!
Make time – make baking enjoyable, get the kids involved. Many muffins, biscuits and cakes can be cooked in bulk frozen so everything will stay fresh. I have an awesome biscuit recipe that makes 120 biscuits in one go for really basic ingredients – lasts me all month!
Tip 6: If Something You Use Regularly is on Sale – Buy it!
Buy in bulk! But first, make sure it is a bargain. Unit pricing is a wonderful invention compulsory in supermarkets now so you can compare brands to see if you’re getting the best deal. The best way to save money by buying in bulk is to purchase your meat – meat is one of the most expensive parts of the food shop. If you have the money upfront and the room, it can be a terrific way of saving you some cash.
Great items to buy in bulk when they are on sale include:
- Tinned Tomatoes
- Breakfast Cereals
- Meat! (Check out our article on where to buy meat cheaply Australia-wide!)
- Baking Essentials (Flour, Sugar etc) – providing you have room for it in the freezer to stop it spoiling
Items NOT to buy in bulk – even if they are on sale:
- Bread (it takes up too much room)
- Sweet Biscuits, Treats and Chocolate (you know why!)
Tip 7: Stick to the Basics
Buy basics. Tins of tomatoes, pasta noodles, rice, mince, flour, sugar, butter. There are a thousand things you can make from such ingredients. Mince is so versatile. I make up a big batch of savoury mince (great on toast), add a tin of tomato soup – it’s a bolognese sauce. Add a pinch of curry powder and you have something different again. I love gravy beef too – it makes tasty pies and casseroles. Every ingredient must be able to be used in many ways.
If the groceries you buy are versatile, you are more likely to use them up!
Tip 8: Cook in Bulk or Try Once a Month Cooking
Cook in bulk quantities. Have enough left over for hubby to take for lunch the next day or the kids to take to school. Make enough so you can have a night off and just grab something out of the freezer. Freezer cooking is a great way to save both time, money and electricity! We have a terrific recipe that makes 120 biscuits!
Grab a copy of our book ‘Once a Month Cooking’ which shows you step by step on how to cook in bulk and freeze for later!
Tip 9: Always Check Your Receipt
Supermarkets, like people, make mistakes. Always double check your docket before leaving the supermarket. If you have been charged incorrectly most of the time (depending on the store policy) you can get a full refund on the item! Especially check the items that are on sale and that the discount has been applied.
Tip 10: Use a Smaller Trolley
You know how a few tips ago I said that Supermarkets can be tricky? Well, this is one of their tricks. Over the years, the size of the shopping trolley has significantly increased. Why? Because we naturally think we are done shopping when the trolley is FULL. So the bigger the trolley, the more we buy. If you are only popping into the supermarket for a few items, pick up a basket.
Costco is a prime example – their trollies are simply MASSIVE! Most supermarkets have those little half trollies now – try and use them instead.
A smaller shop can use those smaller half-trollies. It really does affect the brain, so pick the smallest one possible!