Do you cringe a little when you see your checkout total at the supermarket? In 2019 Australia, living seems to only get more expensive to make ends meet whilst having money to spend on yourself slowly dwindles away.
So where is all this lost money going and how can you save thousands per year by cutting a few simple corners – still eat what you’d like and have some leftover cash for date night.
The average household spends about $160 on groceries per week. All up, that’s over $8000 per year – this is money you can easily optimise and put towards a new car or house deposit.
1. Meal Planning
At the start of each week, make a plan of the meals you’ll be having each day. When you’re looking for meal ideas, stick to roughly the same types of dishes with limited variation – things get expensive when you’re looking to have a different exotic dish seven days a week.
When you’re planning for meals, look for recipes with seasonal ingredients. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually cheaper and better quality as opposed to ingredients that are out of season and expensive.
If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t mind leftovers, make things in larger batches so you can have leftovers for lunch or dinner in the coming days – or, freeze your leftovers and save them for another time when you really just can’t be bothered making a meal from scratch.
It’s these small efforts that will save you so much money in the long-run and also tend to be a lot healthier than ordering takeout three times per week.
2. Keep it Simple, Stupid!
When you’ve decided what you’d like to cook/ need for the week – make a list! This sounds so trivial but think, how often have you gone to the supermarket for ‘one thing’ and come back with a whole bag full of snacks and ingredients you didn’t need/ know you needed? If you know what you’re going to eat for the week you can buy exactly what you need or also buy in bulk to get value packs that’ll last you months e.g. rice.
3. Farmer’s Markets and Family Supermarkets
Farmer’s Markets aren’t just for hipsters! A lot of the time bulk vegetables like potatoes and carrots are so much cheaper at smaller grocers and markets. Also, family supermarkets can often be a lot more waste-conscious and sell their ‘damaged’ or older fruits and vegetables for a lot cheaper. A lot of local grocers have $1 bags of shabbier looking ingredients that are so much cheaper and are great for breakfast smoothies or sauces.
4. Late Bird Gets the Worm?
Chances are if you’re at the butcher or supermarket right before closing, you’ll spot some excellent deals, sales and reductions on many essentials like meat and bread. Always check the use-by/ best-before dates and think if you’ve got enough time to use that ingredient. Sometimes if you know you’re going to be making a beef stir-fry in a few days, why not buy the reduced beef, cook it the night of, then refrigerate or freeze it for later? A lot of these saving techniques are just about planning in advance – simple and effective.
5. Think Reusable
On the odd occasion, you need to buy plastic sandwich bags or paper towels to wipe up a few spills, switch to reusable containers, tea-towels and sponges. These may be initially a little more expensive, however, when you reuse – you not only reduce your own cost but also the cost on the planet.
6. Bulkier is Better
Often, buying in bulk turns out to be cheaper than buying regular weights and sizes. For staple ingredients that you use regularly, switch to value sizes and always do the math – sometimes there’s no extra value! Things like, rice, potatoes, peanut butter and oats are some of the things that you could buy larger quantities of and really get your money’s worth.
7. Careful About Rewards Programs
When it comes to rewards programs, spend some time doing a little research as to their terms, conditions and points system. Sometimes, if you buy the items that are rewarded with points – the program is definitely worth it. However, if you can see that you won’t be getting many points back or value through the program – don’t bother!
Living out of home or supporting the family doesn’t have to be as expensive or tedious. You can still eat the meals you love and splurge a little on the activities or items you really love. Check out these hacks and see if you can come up with your own to make week to week groceries a breeze!