Good morning everyone! I'm in the midst of my meal planning and grocery list making for the fortnight, so I thought I'd do up a quick post on my tips for keeping the cost of your grocery bill down. In a household of six, it's really important for us to keep our food bill as low as possible. We have a lot of mouths to feed, and there's cleaning products and personal items to buy as well - so it adds up fast!
1. MEAL PLAN. I have done a previous post on meal planning here.
It goes into how I do my meal planning. When I wrote the post I was
meal planning weekly, but I've recently changed to fortnightly because
that frees up every second Friday for me, but the principles are the
same. Remember what I said about routines being flexible?
It's the same for any kind of routine, meal planning included. Planning
out your meals for the week/fortnight/month (whatever works for you)
will reduce the cost of your shopping list. You will know exactly what
you can use up in your fridge, freezer and pantry and you're writing
down every ingredient you need and buying it when you do your shopping,
thus eliminating the need to go back to the supermarket for one
forgotten thing. We all know what happens when we go into the shops for
'just one thing', don't we? We buy something that we don't need. And
waste money. So meal plan, because it WILL save you money.
2. CHECK YOUR CATALOGUES. If
you don't get your catalogues delivered regularly, check them out
online. Coles and Woolworths also have a subscription option so you can
get the weekly catalogue emailed straight to you. Have a look at what's
on special. Not just to help you meal plan, but make sure you're looking
at the cleaning products and other household items that are in there.
Write down on your shopping list the things that are on special - and
how much they are. Too many times I've gone shopping thinking something
was on special for one price and it's been marked as another. And the
idea of having a trolley with small children and leaving where you're up
to in your shopping to go and find a catalogue to check it? Too hard.
Or alternately, carry a copy of the catalogue with you, or pick one up
on the way into the store.
3. READ THE PRICE TAGS. Okay,
you've made it into the supermarket with your comprehensive list of
everything you need. As you make your way around the shop, take the time
to glance at the price tags. Often cheaper items will be placed on
either the top or bottom shelves, with the expensive items right at eye
level. Some stores have instore specials as well, which are not in the
catalogue. A lot of stores have a great tool you can use on the price
tags now too, which tells you how much something is per 100g, or per 100 sheets (toilet paper)...etc. It's a great way to compare how much something really is and whether you're getting the most out of your dollar.
4. LOOK FOR MARKED DOWN ITEMS. This is especially applicable to the meat and dairy sections, but can be applied storewide. Supermarkets will put stickers on their produce indicating something is a cheaper price when it's coming close to it's use by date. These are important to look out for because they will save you a lot of money. Even if something goes out of date the next day, you can freeze most things to use later on. Depending on how flexible your budget is, sometimes it's worth picking up things that are marked down by quite a bit and freezing them to be used in another week's meal plan or shopping list. If you're on a strict budget, just pick them up if they're on your list.
5. STICK TO YOUR LIST. Okay, I'm contradicting myself slightly here. In the point above, I advocated picking up things that are dramatically marked down to save you money in the future. I don't always do this, but I will if I know it won't blow my budget. It's something you need to assess based on your situation.
But, I generally stick to my rule of NEVER deviating from the list. Stick to it. You've spent time making sure there is everything you need on it. If chocolate isn't on the list - don't buy it. If that nice looking scotch fillet isn't on the list - don't buy it. It's a sure fire way of adding LOTS of money to your shopping bill.
If you're ducking into the shops mid week to pick up bread or milk or fruit (the only things you should need to get), then still, make a list. Even if there's only one thing on your list. Get used to only buying what's on that piece of paper, and you'll save money. Many a time I've walked in to get milk, and $30 later I've walked out with a bag full of things I don't need.
6. BUY IN BULK. This will save you money in the long run. But it's generally a larger outlay in the beginning, so we don't always do this. The things I will do it for though is hand soap, toilet paper, laundry powder, etc. It will save you lots of money with your household cleaning things. If you know a good butcher, buying meat in bulk is cheaper, but just remember you will need freezer space for it all.
I hope these tips help you in reducing the cost of your groceries. Make yourself aware of where that extra money is going - Are you going to the shops daily and buying unnecessary things? Do you impulse buy at the checkout? Do you make a list so you know what you need? Paying attention to these things will save you money. And we all know that can only be a good thing.