Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cutting the grocery budget

This is not always straight forward because you have to be able to live with yourself too! I could feed our family on about $100 a week long term if I wasn't so determined to go with the health benefits we've discovered of raw dairy, high protein and best practice preparations of grains and other foods.

However, sometimes I'm happy to switch to 'budget' of our dietary needs or 'super budget' and not do too badly in the health department. $100 a week for the 6 of us would be a 'super super tight budget' and wouldn't not have much room to consider our chosen food health. So something like that would only be a short term 'we need cash now' option. Usually I spend $200 a week on groceries for the 6 of us - yes, Miss Charlotte does count as nappies and formula are in there! $200 a week allows us things like smoked salmon, free range eggs and plenty of meat... so that's not too tight and gives me room to trim it down a bit if I want money for other things.

Here are some really easy ways to shave the grocery budget
-Toilet paper... I'm amazed at what people will spend on toilet paper. I use to go on the guage of 50c a roll being a good deal. Now with thicker fancier toilet papers it's not a good deal as you end up using more of those!! We use Aldi 16 rolls for $4.99 which is 31c a roll which saves us over $113 a year - on just one simple item. If I wanted to save more, I quite probably could. Because of different roll lengths and thicknesses, the best way to calculate cost & savings is to try different options for a week and see how many rolls your family goes through in a 7 day period and work out your costs from there.
-Dishwashing liquid... again, you need to test how long a bottle lasts you to figure this one out. We were using one skin friendly one (you can't get such a thing from a supermarket btw) and were going through it too fast. All this year I've been using a new one and have been dating my bottles. One bottle at $23 dollars lasts me 14 weeks, so $1.65 a week. I'm pretty happy with that, especially as it had been up around $3-$4 a week. I've used cheaper ones but they're loaded with chemicals I don't want on my dishes. We do a LOT of dishes here as we cook from scratch and I'm really happy with how this one is going. Again - you need to do your own testing/assessment based on how many chemicals you're happy to have on your plates and what you're willing to spend.
-Don't throw out food. Buy a capsicum at $6 a kilo? Half of it doesn't get used and goes in the bin? The capsicum you did use, just became $12 a kilo, which you'd have never paid in the first place! Dish small serves and allow for seconds instead of uneaten portions going in the bin. Cover a meal and make sure it DOES get eaten later.
-Home made 'takeaways' can save a fortune... Pizza from the shop is $17 for our family or about $10 with  frozen slightly topped bases and our goodies added... Fish n chips about $25-30 from the shop or about $13 oven baked. Choose to adjust your taste buds accordingly. One takeaway a week turned into a home done one can save over $500 a year! What would you do with that $500? Work out your own 'no time to cook'  meals that will help you save on takeaway, like frozen spaghetti sauce and shepherd's pies, and your own 'we want a treat for dinner' options like spring rolls, oven baked fish, dim sims, pizza etc. Put the thinking cap on, then remove these items from the regular menu plan so they become the treat or time saver you want them to be.
Just doing these things saves us $700 a year which means I can either a) buy higher quality foods like smoked salmon etc OR b) I can use the cash for other things... and that's not all the savings that are available either!

There's a whole lot more buzzing around in my brain but this is it for starters... remind me if I forget to come back to it!



  1. The other night I made home made kebabs - the ones that are wrapped up in a lebanese bread. I figured it cost me about the 10 dollar mark but if we had of bought them out it would of cost us $50. So a big savings there for home made.

    There is a LOT to be saved for doing home made and choosing careful at the shops. :o)

    We also save a heap on making our own bread too.

  2. I noticed that switching our buying habits to be Aldi-centric really cut down on our bills. Their smaller range meant I wasn't tempted by whatever was on special.

  3. Love your money saving ideas:) like you we've also switched to Aldi toilet paper. What brand of d/w liquid do you use, if I may ask?:)
    don't do takeaways much here either! I've learnt to cook fast easy healthy cheap meals instead:)