Did you know that apart from housing and transportation, food is one of our major expenditures? According to the June 2019 findings of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an average Australian household spends $254.96 on groceries per week. Families with children ages 5 to 14, on the other hand, spend $336.
Food is essential, of course. But applying ways to save money on groceries is not only practical but also beneficial, especially during uncertain economic times. Good thing cutting back on excessive grocery expense is not complicated at all! Here are some tips that you can add to your saving habit.
1. Make a weekly meal plan.
When making a meal plan, I suggest choosing a meal or two that you can mix and match or turn into another dish. For example, roasted chicken can be paired with a vegetable side dish then added to salads if there are leftovers.
Make sure to check your pantry and fridge, so you can get recipe ideas from what food you already have (and avoid buying extras). If you can, it’s a good practice to have a cycle menu, where you have a set of meals that you can repeat week after week to save time. The time spent on creating your weekly meal plan, in turn, gives you these benefits:
- Helps you eat on time and avoid skipping meals
- Prevents you from buying fast food or dining out
- Lets you enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals
- Results to less food waste and cooking stress
- Saves time and money
2. Prepare a grocery list.
One thing I always do before making a quick stop to a grocery store near me is to have a list of things I need to buy. If possible, group your listed essentials into categories, based on their arrangement in the store. An organised list prevents you from missing something and wasting time and energy.
With everything bought from the grocery or market, you don’t have to pick things up from a petrol station or corner store, which usually offer items at higher prices. A grocery list also prevents impulse buys and lessen your trips to the store, so you don’t pile up on unnecessary groceries.
If you make a list, do your best to stick to it, which can be a challenge when you have a shopping partner or children in tow. Your cart will be full of snacks and whatnot before you know it. You’ll also find it hard to check and compare prices. So, if you can, I suggest you do your shopping alone. If not, online grocery delivery and click-and-collect services are your best options.
3. Buy produce in season.
Fruits and vegetables in season not only cost less but also taste better. Local farmers’ markets are great places to look for seasonal goods at the best prices. When creating a meal plan, it is better to use a guide on seasonal produce. That way, you know what products to buy before visiting the grocery or market.
4. Use inexpensive ingredients.
Aside from seasonal produce, stock up your kitchen with affordable grocery items like rice, pasta, flour, bread, eggs, oats and canned food. You can complement these essentials with more expensive items, like meat or fish, for a balanced and budget-friendly meal. Also, try not to be brand conscious all the time. In most cases, inexpensive options or supermarket-branded items typically have the same taste and quality.
5. Whip up food from scratch.
While instant items in groceries offer convenience, they also cost more compared with homemade food. For instance, you can add store-bought vinaigrette straight to your salad, but it’s cheaper to make it with oil and vinegar. Some instant food items also have preservatives for longer shelf life, which affect their cost and nutritive value. So, choose to recreate food items in your kitchen instead whenever possible to save money on groceries. It makes you a creative and resourceful home cook, too.
6. Buy and cook food in bulk.
Buying food in bulk at lower prices is another way to save money on groceries. This option is best if you live in a large household or practice meal prep at home. Either way, cooking food in bulk help you save not only money but also time and energy. It prevents you from buying unhealthy takeaways and wasting food, too.
7. Repurpose leftovers.
I understand that some people are not fans of having the same food over and over again. But you don’t have to eat leftovers as is when you can use it for another dish. It’s all about creativity. So, make pies or creamy soups out of roasted vegetables, turn stale bread into crunchy croutons for your salad or use any cooked meat, seafood or poultry for sandwiches and wraps.
8. Avoid food waste and spoilage.
Did you know that an average Australian home throws one out five bags of groceries, resulting in a staggering $8 billion worth of waste? So, let’s make the most of the food we buy. Turn chicken bones and vegetable scraps into a tasty stock or soup. Make snacks out of pumpkin seeds, or use the zest of juiced lemons for baking.
Proper food storage is another way to prevent waste. If you do not plan to eat your leftovers right away, keep them in the freezer so they last longer. Set your fridge to the ideal food storage temperature, and store your food into proper containers before chilling or freezing.
9. Grow your own food.
If you have a backyard at home, plus a green thumb, growing your vegetable or fruit garden is a rewarding way to cut down on food expenses. Home gardens give the best-tasting produce, too. But if you don’t have space, potted herbs are the perfect alternative. Fresh herbs are quite expensive, so growing them can still help you save money on groceries. They double as natural air fresheners, too!
For more helpful tips, check out this previous article on money-saving for smart mums.