That budget life
With a mortgage, bills and every day expenses, and a beautiful boy who nearly eats as much as is now we definitely have to stay on top of our food budget. I only work three days a week and we are far from rolling in it. Everybody asks me how on earth I afford to eat so well and insists that it must cost an awful lot to eat like we do. Well that couldn’t be further from the truth. These 15 tips will help you get on top of your food shopping!
- Make a list and stick to it! Before I go shopping I always write a list and never buy anything that I haven’t written down. If you can’t do this then buying online is a great idea as you aren’t tempted by unnecessary sale items.
- Meal prep and planning. I plan everything and do my main shop on a Friday. I do this on a Friday because it stops us from buying takeout as we have a meal planned to cook each night. Better for your health and the bank account.
- Cook in bulk. It means that I often cook meals for 8 people instead of 2, but all the left overs become lunch anyway! This also stops you from buying lunch each day and you save money this way too. Also there is less to clean up.
- I often cook with seasonal produce as it is always cheaper.
- I have become quite friendly with my local fruit and veg shop and will buy fruit and veg when it’s about to go bad. These items are often discounted and can be found either up the front or the back of the shop. Often I ask if they have any ‘bad’ bananas they want to sell at a discount too. There is nothing wrong with this food, it tastes delicious, it just doesn’t look as appealing.
- Buy fruit and veg in bulk. Bananas, berries, mangoes, sweet potato - you name it. Find a fruit shop near you that sells in bulk or wholesale prices and it’s so much cheaper. The outlay is more expensive but on average it works out a lot cheaper. E.G I just spent $15 on blueberries which I would never do but it was $1.25 per punnet which is cheaper than any supermarket. My mango tray was $18 for 20 mangoes, so less than a dollar each! It might mean we eat mangoes for the next week, but who would complain about that?! An alternative is to bulk buy with a friend, just as cheap but split the cost and the produce if you don’t think you’ll get through it all. Any fruit or veg that is not great to eat fresh or can’t be eaten quickly enough is chopped up and frozen. This is smoothie prep 101. My freezer is always stocked with fruit and veg ready for smoothies. I never specifically buy fruit and veg for smoothies this is just where my excess happens to go. A fridge clean out meal is often on the cards and a big curry or stirfry can be created using any vegetables that might have gone to waste
- Shock horror...but I don’t buy organic fruit and veg. I wash some of my fruit and veg but I just can’t justify doubling the price of my produce. I will visit a farmers market and indulge in organic produce every once in a while but it’s not a regular occurance. I know it’s better for us, but eating more plants in general is best no matter where they come from.
- Grow what you can. I grow all my own herbs and some vegetables. It is so much cheaper to grow your own herbs and they taste amazing as well. I would love to grow all my veggies but don’t have the space so I grow a few for fun but not enough to sustain us for the week. My herb garden only takes up 2m of garden space and it is super easy to maintain. Even with a few pots by your front door you would save a lot of money if you like to cook with fresh herb
- Buying packaged goods in bulk. Costco does wonders. Giant bags of frozen berries, chia seeds, almond meals, nuts etc. Buying in bulk means less packaging and saving money. Again it’s an expensive shop at the time but on average a whole lot cheaper.
- Buy items on special and stock up. I only buy mangoes and avocados when they are on special. I keep them in the fridge and they last weeks! I would love to have an avocado a day, but it becomes too expensive so they are a treat. If I find an item that lasts for ages like peanut butter, and it’s on special I buy heaps, 10 jars at least, and just keep the pantry stocked up
- A lot of my smoothie toppers and powders are quite expensive but you would be surprised how long you can make a packet of pistachios or cacao nibs go when you’re only adding a teaspoon to your bowl in the morning. I only buy a these items when they are special too
- We eat our food scraps...well, we blend them. Any stawberry tops, lots of fruit peel and vegetable stalks go into the freezer and added to smoothies. This not only bulks them out and saves you from using other ingredients but it’s also an extra nutrient hit and tastes no different. Less waste as well
- I soak beans and legumes where I can. It’s much cheaper to buy the beans and soak them overnight then buy canned items. I still have cans for convenience but I am moving away from this. Slowly but surely. It’s all about gradual changes
- Cook yourself. I make as much as I can myself. I make our own nut milks, dips and treats - it is so much cheaper to cook everything from scratch. If I can’t cook it, I don’t really need it
- Overall keep it fresh. If you’re buying lots of processed goods, whether that is vegan cheese, biscuits, fake meats or dips then your grocery bill will sky rocket. Whole Food Plant Based eating is extremely cheap to do because it eliminates all these items.
So it was going to be 5 things to help you cut costs but it turned into 15, I subconsciously do a lot to keep the food bill down.
Let me summarise with, bulk buy, cook everything, waste nothing, grow your own, and plan ahead.
They are all little things but start with 1 or 2. I didn’t wake up one day and change everything. It’s taken years to figure all of this out. On average we spend about $60-$80 a week on food for 2 adults and one very hungry boy. My posts and pantry might indicate that I have hundreds to spend each week but that is definitely not the case. Budget central in this house!
Save your pennies.