Friday, 22 May 2015

Getting Tough On The Grocery Budget

As I mentioned yesterday I am in the process of making some changes to our budget to accommodate my changes in lifestyle (going back to Uni) and the reduction in my income, and one of the areas where I think I can make quite a bit of savings is the grocery budget.

Now for the purposes of this post our "grocery budget" includes all items purchased at the green grocer, supermarkets, markets and butcher but excludes dog food. 
As I have mentioned in my posts about beef we also have hundreds of kilos of beef to eat but we sometimes want a change so there is an occasional purchase of other types of protein.  I also work from home permanently and Hubby takes his lunch every day so there is almost zero spend outside of the "grocery budget" on other foodstuffs.

If I look back at our spending habits we have been spending between $70 and $120 (more often at the lower end of the scale) per week for the last few months.  Now while that is not a huge amount of money I believe that we can really cut back on that amount because we rarely need to purchase meat and have a bit going on in the garden.

We also have a well stocked pantry and when I say well stocked what I really mean is bursting at the seams.  
You see when you are bit of a mad keen foodie like me you tend to have ingredients from many different cultures and many types of a single product. Take vinegar for example I have at least ten different types....yep ten. But I do use them all and they do not go off.
However if I am honest there are a few spur of the moment purchased items that have been sitting in the pantry for a while and it is time they saw the light of day.

So where to from here.

Well I am going to set a maximum weekly budget of $50 and I am going to get very strict with my menu planning.
I have previously posted about how I menu plan using a small white board on my fridge and while I have been using this system for a long time I have often decided what we are eating then organised ingredients which means I often buy things just for that meal.

So from now on I am looking at:
What need using up?
What has been in the pantry for ages?
What do I have multiple of?
What is in the garden?
What can I substitute?

I will then plan our meals based on the minimum number of additional items I need to purchase.
Now while this makes perfect sense it is easy to fall in to bad habits when you are tired or rushed so I will also be making sure I have a good stockpile of prepared meals that can be heated up in just a few minutes.

Wontons can be made and frozen to have on hand for a tasty and quick meal

The other thing that I know is important to get the buy in of Hubby, is that there are enough "treats" or "not home made" things so that he does not feel deprived.  This means that I will buy an occasional bag of chips/crisps, cordial (yuck) and salted peanuts.

So each week I will be posting about my menu plan for the week and how much I spent.  I will also be posting recipes for fugal meals that make the most of what is in season and good value for money.

How much do you spend per person each week on groceries?
What tips and tricks do you use to stick to your budget?


  1. No idea what we spend anymore. I just know it doesn't seem a lot. I'll be interested in your menus.

    1. It never felt like that much before but now I that I need to find to some savings it needs to feel like even less.

  2. Wow $50 is a pretty small budget for groceries. We spend anywhere from $70 - $100 for three of us. We are currently doing a stock take of what needs to be used up in the pantry, freezer and lurking in the fridge. When we move we are going to also be changing our budget as we too are taking a paycut and need to rethink things.

    1. Lizzie There is only the two of us and we rarely need to buy meat so it is probably not much less than you. I have a really good idea of what is in the pantry and I know there are lots of beans so I will be looking for new recipes to make use of them. I also have quite a few types of lentils.

  3. You're having fun with this budgeting and as usual setting an example to us all.

    1. Thanks Lynda I just hope that others can take my ideas and make it their own.

  4. Embarrassed to say we budget bills but not food. We spend what some may consider to be a "lot" on groceries in some areas because when we buy meat or produce, it's always local and organic, no exception. A lot of folks say how they can't afford to buy organic but I think that's crap, because if you focus on buying staples instead of processed &/or prepared, you can get much more bang for your buck (also here in the US we spend less than any other country on food ( - for some reason it's OK to spend $5 on a latte at Starbucks but not on tomatoes...sigh... We buy all of our dry goods, from rice to pasta to baking to spices and more, and things like olive oil, honey, shampoo, and laundry soap, in the bulk aisle which is the biggest way to economize as nearly everything is pennies on the dollar compared to packaged versions. I mean, $8 for a small bottle of paprika or 79 cents to buy it in bulk? I just wish more stores would expand their bulk offerings to make this easier.

    We also discovered that the evil giants sell our holistic dog food brand for cheaper than the local store so while I hate having it shipped, we can buy 50 lbs of Mastiff kibble for about 20% less - and I don't have to try to lug it home in my bike basket :)

    While we don't have an exact food budget, the biggest way we've saved is to stop thinking we must go out to breakfast every Sunday, which used to be a tradition. We came to realize that the ceremony of it all was more wrapped around reading their copy of the New York Times, not the actual food we were eating at the hipster "too cool for school" cafe, so now we find a cool breakfast recipe and ordered a Sunday-only subscription and we cook together and then dawdle around the garden - way better than a $25 cafe breakfast!!

    1. Oh Aimee you are singing my tune about the $5 latte. I cannot see how people can buy faux food life from the big takeaway stores and then claim not to be able to afford fruit and veggies.
      I like to buy in bulk too but since we will move overseas in the next 12 months I will have to get rid of all my food so I want to try and use it all up before we go so am trying to not add too much. We occasionally go out for breakfast but it is rare and I as I like to cook and am a bit of a food snob (love great real food) will only go somewhere that they cook food that I would not make myself as it is a bit of effort. I can do bacon and eggs at home so why would I pay for them.


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