1. SHOP ONCE A WEEK
It is REALLY important that you only shop once a week… even if you have a large family! The money you spend on incidentals during the week could feed your family for the week (make the effort to write out everything you spend for a week you will see I’m right, a coffee here, lunch money here, sushi here…etc). If you write out all the incidental money you spend in one week, then take out half and put it on your wallet… so you just use that money… when its gone, its gone, eat out of your very full fridge and pantry…
Don’t just drop into the local store/service station and pick up a bag of chips/coffee/chocolate/milk. This is where all your extra money goes. If you know that you can’t fit enough milk in your fridge for 1 week supply, put it in the freezer or add it to you incidental weekly money.
2. HAVE A LIST WHEN SHOPPING
This is important. Have a basic list of what you need, what you are going to cook for the week… BUT make sure you make room for specials. If something in the supermarket is a great special, have the flexibility to change up what you were going to make for something else, especially if you have most of the items you need in your pantry already. If you have to buy everything just to use the special, maybe think about it, or if it is meat buy it and put it in the freezer for next week so you already have one meal sorted.
Having a list also stops you from impulse buying which is really important! If it isn’t on the list really think about if it is a need, or a want, can it wait another week and go on next weeks shopping list? Oh and a given but I need to say it, NEVER SHOP HUNGRY, NEVER!
Lots of people are now shopping on line so they can monitor what they buy, but sometimes you don’t get the really good specials… and I don’t know about you, but I actually love food shopping when I have the time to walk around the shops!
3. BUY IN SEASON
Everything that is in season is cheaper. I hope you know that apples and oranges aren’t in season all the time! Believe it or not, even carrots and potatoes have a season. In all the shopping around I do (I have the time), I have found that the big supermarket chains have the most expensive fruit and vegetables and they are generally not as fresh as finding a good green grocer or going to a farmers market. If you can shop at your local farmers market everything will be in season, cheaper and will last longer because most of the time you are buying from the grower! Honestly, there are so many markets around, so just get online and have a look, you will thank me! I am down to shopping at a supermarket once a month now, just to buy my pantry items… it is really wonderful!**
I though I would say here that buying in season infers that you are buying fresh produce! You are never going to save money on food if you are buy pre-packaged prepared food. It is priced up for what you get, generally unhealthy and full of nasty preservative and chemicals. There are many websites dedicated to making food from scratch (this is one of them), eating whole foods, and knowing and understanding what is in your food. My rule is, if I can’t say and I don’t recognise the ingredients, it isn’t going in my body!
If you would like any help transforming a packaged food that your family loves into a whole food recipe… Please leave a comment, as I love a challenge!
**I have just joined a co-operative so soon I won’t even have to go to the supermarket, I will be able to buy bulk pantry items at the co-op much cheaper!
4. BUY IN BULK
When ever possible, buy in Bulk… it is always cheaper! Mince $12kg, if you buy 2kg is comes down to $8kg, buy the 2kg (see below). I buy a whole rump at a wholesale butcher, it costs me between $5.99 – $7.99kg depending on the special. I get them to cut it into steaks for me. I know it is cheap rump, it’s not great for steak, it’s cheap… I take it home and mince it, make it into rissoles and mince for the freezer (see below), then I can do anything with it. So I have beautiful rump mince sometimes for $6kg I can’t get that at any butcher.
I buy cheaper cuts of meat, they may need to be cooked longer, but in the end they are tastier and so much cheaper. I buy whole chickens and cut them up myself… MUCH CHEAPER, its not hard, in fact I have a whole blog on it right HERE CALLED 101 WAYS WITH CHICKEN if you want to check it out!
Find your local wholesale butcher and see what great specials they have every week! If you don’t have a wholesale butcher, get to know your local butcher, 9 times out of 10 they will be cheaper than the big supermarket chains AND it is ALWAYS better quality meat! When you get to know your local butcher and they know you buy in bulk all the time, you ask for the best price and they will give it to you to keep you as a customer!
5. USE YOUR FREEZER
I have always said, your freezer is your friend. If you don’t own a separate freezer get one, it will save you money in the end, if you use it properly. Every time you make a meal that you can freeze, freeze it. Make stock out of bones and freeze it for risotto, soups… basically an extra meal for free as you can buy bones in the butcher for $2kg. Freeze, milk, bread, butter, your extra bulk meat you have bought (see above). Freezing means that if you are really clever with your meal planning, you can live out of your freezer (apart from some fresh fruit and vegetables) once week every 7 or 8 weeks. How much money would you save not shopping one week every 2 months!
Another way to save a lot of money is to blanch and freeze in season vegetables so you have your own version of frozen vegetables in the freezer and at half the price!
6. NEVER COOK JUST ONE MEAL
I have said before, it is just as easy to make 2kg of Spaghetti Bolognese as it is to make 500g or 1kg, use it for another meal another way or freeze it. Mince is so versatile, but so are slow cooker meals. You when you are cooking a roast always make an extra large one or cook two. You will then have left over cold meat for lunches or for making other yummy dishes that use cooked meat. You can even freeze (see above) cold meat into portions. Cold meat from the delicatessen and supermarkets is very expensive. Instead buy a whole chicken, cook it and freeze the meat into portions. Roast beef, corned meat, buy a whole small ham (much cheap at $7kg rather than up to $25kg for processed ham in the packets (read the per 100g price next time), cut it and freeze it into portions, it defrosts really well over night in the fridge and you can use it for lunches the next day.
7. HAVE ONE TREAT EVERY WEEK
I am sure you were not expecting this to be on a how to save money post, but it is! You are important, you work hard for your money, you need to think that you are enjoying yourself! I’m not talking about diamond rings or power tool kind of treats! 🙂 I’m talking about coffee with friends, a beer at the pub, a night out with family. It just should be budgeted so you know how much you are going to spend. I budget things like, truffle oil, smoked garlic, $89.99 imported Italian Prosciutto or Roquefort cheese. These are things that make me happy. I can’t have them all of the time, but once a week or fortnight I get something for me… If the budget is tight, it might just be an iced coffee at my favourite cafe’. If you don’t do something a little bit nice for yourself each week or fortnight with your hard earned money, at some stage you are going to splurge and completely blow out your budget and ruin all the great work you have done, so just treat yourself! YOU DESERVE IT!
This is just a little bit of advice from someone who seems to have been on a very strict budget for a long time. I lived in Sydney working for a non-profit organisation earning very little money and these things helped me survive without getting into mountains of debt. The pressure of debt can overwhelm us, so I hope that what I have learnt can somehow help you. Use them all, or not all, your choice!
Thank you for stopping by, it would be great if you left a comment on what you think! Please don’t forget to leave a comment on a packet recipe that you would like as a whole food recipe!
Enjoy Irresponsibly, because when you eat good, whole foods you can!