I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year looking at where and how we can save our money and one of our ‘big’ money wasters was groceries. I’m ashamed to say that at one point we were spending $250+ a week at the supermarket for just two adults and two toddlers – crazy! It’s been a process of trial and error, but by implementing a few different strategies, I’ve been able to reduce our grocery bill enormously and we now spend between $100 – $150 a week on average, so today I’m sharing 9 ways to save money on groceries that have worked for our family. While there is probably nothing here that you haven’t heard before, by implementing just a few of these ideas you will hopefully save some money at the supermarket so you can buy other important things like shoes!
Start by Shopping from the Pantry/Fridge/Freezer
Before I sit down to write our meal plan and shopping list, I firstly go through what we’ve already got in our pantry, fridge and freezer to try and use up any leftovers and items which are close to their use by date. I’m normally able to get a couple of meals and/or lunches for us by doing this, whether it’s simply ham and cheese toasties, pasta made with garlic, crushed tomatoes, bacon, onion and cheese or fried rice made with leftover veggies, it’s a great way to reduce our food waste and keep costs down.
Meal Plan – Including Snacks
The reason why meal planning works for us is that I’m flexible (and realistic) when it comes to what we will actually eat, and how far a meal can actually last us. When I first tried the idea of meal planning a few years ago, I was making something new every night, as the idea of writing ‘leftovers’ on our plan didn’t seem right – yep silly I know. This led to us ending up with waaay too much food and wasting money. Now when putting together a meal plan, I think about just how much and also how far I can stretch our main meals so that we have both full tummies and minimal waste. I also write out what a rough guide as to what we will need for breakfast, lunch (because let’s face it, toddlers and small children will ALWAYS change their minds about what they will eat!) and also snacks to ensure we have everything we need to avoid having to make visits to the supermarket during the week.
Yes it can be a little more time consuming, however we are saving around $40 a week simply by buying all of our fruit and veggies each week from our local fruit market instead of the supermarket – for example I recently bought bananas for just 68 cents a kilo and pink lady apples for 98 cents a kilo! We also have our milk delivered each week from Aussie Farmers Direct (this saves trips to the supermarket and impulse buys) and I shop at both Aldi and the major supermarkets depending on what I need and what’s on special that week.
Do ONE Big Shop
I think I can safely say that it’s pretty much impossible for me to pop into the supermarket for just one thing. I’m a marketers dream and always find myself impulse buying something that’s advertised in one of those big displays at the front or on special. By doing one BIG shop each fortnight/week (even if it is at multiple places) while the amount we spend is higher, we save money overall by not making multiple trips to the supermarket for a bottle of milk and ending up walking out with $30 of groceries – please tell me I’m not the only one who does that!
Another one of our biggest savings has come from no longer buying biscuits, muesli bars and other snacks for both the kids and my husband and I. I will spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon (or Monday morning if the weekend has been too busy) and make snacks for our family for the week ahead including things like muesli bars/slice, biscuits, popcorn, bliss balls, banana bread etc. Another bonus of doing this is not only are we saving money (especially when my kids are obsessed with muesli bars and my husband will easily eat 3 or 4 when out bike riding) but I also know exactly what is in them and can avoid any nasties.
This is also another way we save money on our groceries as I find the amount I pay for home delivery (around $9 – $11) is substantially less than the extras I will inevitably find myself putting into the trolley if I go to the supermarket – especially if the kids and my husband come with me. I’m also loving the convenience of having our groceries delivered right to my kitchen bench since our baby boy arrived, the idea of wrangling all three boys at the supermarket is just way too scary for me to consider at the moment!
Make the Most of Discounted Groceries
Although I’ve said shopping online, meal planning and writing a list has helped us to save money, so too has making the occasional trip to the supermarket to check out their discounted groceries. I’ve come to learn that our local supermarket reduces their meat/dairy/deli items on a Wednesday morning, so I make it a habit to stop by after the kindy drop off each week to check out what’s on special and pick up some bargains. This is also where being flexible with our meal planning comes in and I either substitute what I’ve bought for meals on the plan, or freeze it to use the week after.
Stock up on Specials
One of my guilty pleasures is reading the catalogues that arrive in our letterbox this week (yep, I really do have an exciting life!) and checking out what items we regularly use that are on special. When I spot items like laundry/dishwashing powder, toilet paper, baby wipes/nappies etc I will always buy in bulk (we have SEVEN boxes of laundry powder currently in the cupboard) as I know they will definitely get used and you can guarantee they will be full price when I run out.
Bulk up Meals
We’ve spent the past seven weeks living off meals that I made in the lead up to our little man’s arrival, and when I’ve pulled a small container out of the freezer for us, my husband has given me a few strange looks and commented that there is no way that will be enough food for us all, especially when we’ve also had guests. I haven’t been stingy with portion sizes by any means, instead I’ve been bulking up our meals with extra veggies, legumes, rice and pasta to help it stretch further. For example one takeaway container of butter chicken fed three adults and two kids for dinner, as well as lunch for two adults again the next day by serving it with rice, steamed broccoli, beans and pumpkin.
So there you have it, a few of the things we have been doing to help save money on groceries.
I’d love to hear your tips!