Friday, 20 April 2012

Saving on Groceries

I've recently cut my weekly grocery bill from $250 to $150... Which is still relatively high for a two-person household! I've got some work to do to get it lower, but I thought I'd share the ways I've cut it down by 40% so far.

I cook. A lot.
It's much cheaper to cook a meal at home than to buy take-away. Everyone knows that. We always cooked most of the meals we eat, but I've upped the ante lately. It would be rare for us to have take-away more than once a fortnight at the very most now. I cook tasty, reasonably nutritious meals at home, and I think it's improving our health as well as the grocery bill.

I plan every meal for the week,  without exception.
This requires a little bit of work - but I enjoy it! I plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for two people for the whole week. This means that you won't be running out of food and running out to a fast food place / the supermarket as a result. Or, much more of an issue for me, buying twice as much food as you really need because you overestimate how much you'll eat.

I audit the pantry.
A tidy pantry is an absolute must unless you want to spend a fortune on ingredients you already have on hand, or fail to buy them because you haven't realised that the packet of icing sugar in the back of the cupboard is two years past its use-by date. Before I write the menu for the next week I check what we have and I often base meals around what we have available.
I only shop once a week.
Every time you go to the supermarket, you pick up a few things that aren't on your list. The less frequently you shop, the fewer "extras" you'll be buying.

I make more things from "scratch" at home.
Okay, tipping some bread mix into the bread maker isn't really cooking from scratch, is it? But I get the same super fresh, delicious loaf of multigrain bread as I'd buy at the bakery for $5 minimum... And it's only cost me $2 for the breadmix and yeast, plus minimal costs for water and electricity. I could buy bread cheaper than that, but it wouldn't be anywhere near the same quality. I make pizza dough in the bread maker too - it tastes better than shop-bought pizza bases and it's cheaper. At Christmas time I used the bread maker to make jam for my family. I haven't discovered all the functions yet but that machine has well and truly won a place in my heart.

We cook large batches.
I only have a relatively small fridge and freezer, but even so it's possible to cook meals in large batches and freeze them for later. Chilli con carne? That can be burritos one week, quesadillas the next and tacos the week after that. Perfect Boyfriend's bolognese sauce can keep me happy for weeks with small serves dragged out of the freezer and warmed for dinner on a cold night.

I only buy what I'll actually eat.
This has been a real issue for me in the past. I eat something once and love it, so I think I'll suddenly start eating it every day. Nope. It just goes to waste.

I need very few cleaning products now that I'm on board the Enjo train.
I'm sure I'll discuss this in greater detail in another post, but if you've been buying as many bottles of shower cleaner as I used to, you'll understand that not buying cleaning chemicals or paper towels is fantastic for the wallet. I wish I'd invested in long-life cleaning materials sooner.

None of these improvements has resulted in a lower standard of living in my little household- if anything, it's been the opposite. And I feel great about not wasting as much food as I once did.

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