Friday, 17 October 2014

My top 10 money saving ideas when doing groceries.

Over time I have been working on learning different ways that we can save money on groceries. One of the biggest ways that we save money is by making as much as we can ourselves - rather than paying for someone else to make things for us (big food companies and fast food outlets). It has taken us a while to get into this habit and from time to time we fall out of it again (when we have sick kids, big weeks etc) but we do our best 90% of the time.

To show you different ways that we try to save money, I thought I would give you a glimpse into what a week of cooking looks like in our house. I am quite impressed that I remembered to photograph most things this week. As a result my poor children have been asking if I need a photo of their meal before they eat it ALL the time now - whoops! Anyway, the things we do!

Our week of groceries run from Wednesday - Tuesday (because of how our pays work):

Wednesday - Beef stroganoff for dinner (leftovers used for Thursday's lunch) and a banana, coconut and strawberry loaf to snack on Thursday.

Thursday - Honey Mustard chicken and rice with broccoli (leftovers for lunch Friday) and a strawberry and cream cake.

Friday - Green Curry in a hurry

Saturday - Big breakfast, homemade pizza and homemade iced coffee.

Sunday - Roast dinner (forgot to take photo again)

Monday - Coconut curried sausages with rice and pumpkin and chocolate chip biscuits (GF/DF)

Tuesday - Krispy fried chicken (forgot photo) and apple and cinnamon cupcakes with buttercream frosting. I will be back to upload the picture of the cupcakes soon.

Here are my top 10 tips:

1. Meal Plan
One of the biggest money saving tips when it comes to groceries is actually doing a menu plan before you shop. I menu plan for dinner every night (even though I know that we won't make dinner on a Monday night - because we have dinner with Tim's parents). I do this so that we have a backup meal's ingredients ready if we need them. Sometimes I use this back up meal as a lunch and other times I make the meal and freeze it for a busy week. Menu planning means that I don't waste money buying things I won't need. I only ever buy enough.

Dedicate an hour of your time every week to menu plan. Start by looking in your pantry/fridge/freezer and see what you have left over from the week before. What can you make with your leftovers? It is also a good idea to plan some easy meals in the week, particularly on busy days or nights that you know you will be prone to give up and get takeaway. There is nothing wrong with having homemade baked beans for dinner on a hectic night – in fact most the time the easy meals are our family’s favourite. 

2. Allow for snacks - so that you aren't racing to the shops to purchase treats.
I also menu plan to make a snack/treat every night from Monday - Thursday. While I'm making dinner on a weeknight I also make something 'sweet'. This gives us something extra to enjoy for morning tea or afternoon tea the next day and to have as dessert if we feel like it after dinner. We were spending far to much money going out to buy treats after dinner previously. The reason I only make treats on a Monday - Thursday night is because we are out on a Friday night and by the weekend we get to enjoy all the sweet leftovers that were made during the week without having to mess the kitchen.

3. Shop once.
Buy everything you will need for the week ahead on your grocery shopping day. The more you can stay away from the shops - the more money you will save. Every time you pop into the shops you are probably going to buy something that you didn't intend to buy when you went in there, so it's best to try to not have to stop in multiple times during the week. We go through a lot of milk so I make sure I buy all the milk we will need for the week during our weekly grocery shop.

4. Do a running tally on costs or shop online.
If you struggle to stick to your budget and you blow it every time you do your groceries - then perhaps online grocery shopping is best for you. The good thing about online grocery shopping is that you get a running tally of what your groceries are costing you as you add things into your trolley. If you've gone over your budget, perhaps you could take out things that aren't needed. Don't take them out of your trolley if you know you are going to drop into the shop and purchase them later in the week though- you might have to shuffle your budget around to accommodate more if need be.

5. Make extra dinner to use for lunch the next day.
Menu plan for enough dinner to use the leftovers for lunch the next day. We save a heap of money by taking dinner leftovers to work the next day and it means we aren't having to stay up late the night before preparing lunch. If you need to - double the dinner size so that you make two full meals from it. Buying lunch out is expensive!

At the start of the year I used to stop and pick up a chai latte on the way to work each morning – that cost me $4.50 a day. I have since started making my own hot drink at home and taking it with me to work. My morning hot drink now costs me about 40c. That’s a lot of savings over a year. Sure every now and then I still stop passed and treat myself, but it is no longer a habit.

6. Where possible stay away from prepackaged foods - in particular multi packs.
Prepackaged food is expensive - think about it.. you are paying for the packaging, for the person that packed it and for the ingredients that are in it. Try and start small by choosing one new thing that you can make per week. It might simply be starting to make dinners from scratch and then building up from there. It is a hard habit to break to start with but so worth it once you get into the groove of things. Here are some examples of what we started saving money on by making them ourselves - dinners, lunches, smoothies, bread, butter, tomato sauce, flour washing powder, stock, ice cream and there will be lots more.

Have a think about whether you NEED everything that you have in your trolley. A heap of money can be saved by getting into the habit of drinking water (instead of soft drink). A big money saver is staying away from multi packs wherever possible. Remember that you are paying for the pretty individual packets inside each multipack. Start by buying bulk lots of goodies and packing them into small portions yourself and then work towards making your own lunchbox treats.

7. Buy Fruit and Vegetables in season
When you are in the fruit and vegetable section have a close look at the prices. If pears are cheap it is most likely because they are in season – perhaps you could buy pears instead of apples this week to save you money? Buying fruit and vegetables that are out of season are a lot more expensive to purchase.

8. Wastage – being clever with your meal plan
Be clever with your meal plan. If you make a roast on a Sunday night and have plenty of leftovers – think of ways you can use some of that roast the next night (in wraps, as a pizza topping etc).
For our family buying in bulk doesn’t work, for others it is a lifesaver. See what works best for you. I only every buy what we need for the week ahead. It saves me having to fill our cupboards with bulk purchases and it means I always know what I have. I don’t make purchases based on a special price, but rather make purchases because I need the item. Like I say – this one will depend on your family needs. Look into bulk buying for your family and see if you would prefer it.

9. Know your weaknesses
Do you buy a lot when you are hungry? When you are in a rush do you put more in the trolley? Work around these things so that you learn the best time/day available to you to do your groceries. My weakness is seeing all the treats in store and wanting to purchase things that I know I don’t need. A while ago I made a plan – now, I go in to do the groceries and only purchase what is on my list – if I succeed I ‘reward’ myself with a home decorating magazine. It works for me because I love home decorating magazines! Maybe there is a little reward you can think of that you would appreciate if you didn’t impulse buy. Paying $5 for a magazine saves me a whole heap of money in the impulse buys I don’t make. 

10. Stick to your budget.
Do everything you can to stick to the amount you have decided on. Work on it repeatedly until you get into the habit of finding ways to spend what you have agreed is reasonable. It will be worth it, I promise.

That's it from me. Hoping that all made sense - I've typed this post out twice (after loosing it the first time). I'd love ideas that you use to save money when doing the groceries - comment on the blog or underneath the link on the Facebook post.

Happy weekend everyone.

L x


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