In light of my recent post about Grocery Budget Busting and trying to use up what’s in my pantry & freezer in an effort to save money, I’ve decided to share some tips on how to reduce your own grocery bill.
Yesterday, on my first grocery shop on my self-imposed grocery shopping ban, I noticed a few things
- Those half-price (or sometimes better) deals are seriously there to draw you in. I was walking past and noticed one and immediately I was like ohhhhhh and made a direct beeline for that product (I can’t even remember what that was and it was only 24 hours ago, so obviously I won’t die without it)
- I started to question if previously I have just been spending $180/week on groceries because “that’s my budget”. Regardless of if I had to purchase meat or not, I always managed to spend AT LEAST that amount of money.
So here are some tips to help reduce your own Grocery Bill:
- Before you go, have something to eat. Take a bottle of water with you and chew gum if you have to. This way you are shopping on a full stomach.
- Join rewards programs if the shop offers it. Here in Australia, we unfortunately don’t have access to Coupons (I wish we did!!!). These programs are free (Woolworths Rewards and Flybuys are 2 that I know of and Flybuys I use all the time), they give you money back, just for shopping. I’m always surprised when someone doesn’t have a rewards card. IT’S FREE MONEY PEOPLE!!! (sorry for shouting, I just don’t understand it hehe) I usually try to save my Flybuys dollars up for Christmas. But I have been known to cash in some money when I have been a bit short before. Also, with Flybuys, you can connect your activity tracker and receive 10 points every day you reach 10,000 steps. There are other programs you can link to your card, and you can use Flybuys at Coles, Coles Service Stations (when you get your fuel), Target, Kmart, Liquorland and First Choice. Every 2000 points = $10. This all adds up for doing what you do usually.
- Menu/Meal Plan. Yes, it can be long and sometimes painful, but this is the only way you will know what you need to buy! When the catalogues arrive, look at the specials and compare, then choose where you will shop and what goes on your menu. Ask the kids what they would like for dinner. If the answer is Chicken nuggets and chips, put potato’s and chicken on the list. (my kids love it when I cut the potato’s using the peeler and put them in the oven. They taste and look like potato chips and they think it’s a real treat!) Some of our family favourites that go a fair way or can be stretched are: Shepherds Pie, Lasagne, Taco’s, Sausages and Veggies, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chicken (it’s so versatile you can use it for anything really), Casseroles/Stew/Slow-Cooker Meals (especially in Winter). I love adding Dumplings to my casseroles as that makes the meal stretch quite significantly especially when teamed with pasta or rice and it’s full of veggies.
- Make a list. Write out everything you need, but be sure to STICK TO IT!! Again, it’s easy to be sucked in to the ohhhhh specials!! Those tags are designed to be eye catching!!!!
- Check what’s in your pantry/freezer and use that first, also, cross reference your list you’ve just made and cross it off if you own it. Sometimes (like me) you may be able to get away with a small shop because you have no room in your freezer or pantry. Do you actually know what’s in there? What’s lurking in the back? Or that top shelf? Are you doubling or tripling up on some things? Shop at home first at least once a month to use up what you can and have a “top up shop” only. Imagine only doing a top up shop once a month and only spending $50 instead of $180 – that’s a savings of over $1,500 per year!! Fun Fact: That’s almost enough to fly a family of 4 from Brisbane to New Zealand and back 😉 Holiday anyone??
- Look at the price. Now this one seems obvious, but with packages being all different shapes and sizes, sometimes what first seems the best deal really isn’t. Look at the 100g/100ml price and compare. Don’t be brand loyal. I have started trying Coles brand products and 9 times out of 10 I don’t know the difference and a lot of the times, when looking at the nutritional label, there IS no difference. I’m a bit of a snob with my coffee, so I do spend a little more but when I’m only having 1 per day generally, I figure, life is too short to drink terrible coffee. Oh and toilet paper, I like the brand I like, so I won’t compromise. But milk, flour, sugar, etc are absolutely fine being the home brand and work just as well. Also, compare prices in the Deli per kg to the pre-packaged. I can generally buy Chicken cheaper from the deli then the meat section and sometimes Chicken Drumsticks are on sale for $2-$3/kg – When this happens, I stock up and buy a few kg’s worth. It makes for an easy dinner and you can use them a few different ways. (as of right now, Chicken Drumsticks are $3.50 per kilo at Woolworths, 2kg would easily make 3-4 meals for our family depending what I make with it, that’s around $2 per meal or 50c per person)
- Use leftovers. I love leftovers. It means I often don’t need to do anything except heat and serve. It makes for easy dinners on those days when you’re running late or you just can’t be bothered. You can purchase Chinese containers for $10 for 25 at Coles or Woolworths (same price at both) if you would prefer to freeze and have a stockpile of ready to go meals, but don’t forget to use them!!!!
- Stick to your Menu/Meal Plan. If you make a meal plan, stick to it as much as possible. Sometimes, you will unexpectedly end up with extras, or you get a random invitation to a BBQ (it is Summer in Australia after all), so some weeks you won’t end up making every meal on the plan. Therefore, when this happens, make sure these meals are the first thing to be added to next weeks meal plan. You already have all the ingredients after all.
So this is my list and 8 easy tips to save yourself some money. My top hint is definitely taking advantage of Rewards Programs and taking the time to discover what other things you can link to it. Get the most you possibly can out of these free programs that can end up giving you $100+ (depending on your general shop) come Christmas time. I have used Flybuys to purchase Christmas Presents and Christmas lunch for the extended family and I haven’t had to dig into my budget for this.
I hope this has helped, and I plan on sharing some of my family’s favorite recipes over the coming weeks while I use up what I discover in my freezer and pantry! On the menu tonight is Spaghetti Marinara.