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For many families, the cost of groceries takes up a sizeable portion of the average Australian weekly budget. It happens to be one of the biggest areas that we waste money, and yet is also one area that we can really slash costs! With a few small changes, you can easily slash up to $100 a week from your grocery bill. Here I share how to save money on groceries and household items, while also helping to save time and reduce food waste in your home.
Set A Budget
The first step to saving money on groceries is to review and set your weekly grocery budget. If you don’t know exactly what you are spending per week at the supermarket, start by shopping as you normally would for 4 weeks and collect every receipt. At the end of the 4 weeks, add up the total of all the receipts, and divide that by 4 to get your average weekly grocery spend.
Now look at the total and challenge yourself to reduce it, even by $10 a week, or set a new weekly spend to aim for. See if you can cut any unnecessary items, and implement some of the tips and ideas I set out below to help you achieve this.
For us, we are a family of 5 and I have set a budget of $175 per week for our groceries. It flucuates between $150 – $190 a week. If I overspend in one week, I simply aim to spend below the budgeted amount for the next week.
Another strategy to help save money on groceries, is to meal plan. You can go all out and create rotating weekly menus, plan for every meal plus snacks, or have a more flexible meal plan system in place. Once you have decided on what you plan to prepare and cook for the week, check your pantry, fridge and freezer for what ingredients you already have on hand before writing a shopping list.
If the task of creating a meal plan seems daunting at first, start by simply planning a few dinners for the week to get use to it. For us, I plan the dinners for the week, and simply ensure I have our staple ingredients stocked for our favourite breakfasts and lunches so that I can make those meals and snacks when we want them.
Don’t forget to allow for easy meal solutions for those days when you may get home late, have sick kids to care for, or you simply don’t feel like cooking. Rather than ordering expensive takeaway, keep a few items in the freezer for those nights – my lazy meal is frozen fish fillets and chips thrown into the oven to bake while I whip up a quick salad.
Shop At Home First
Before you head to the supermarket, first check what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry first. This simple exercise will stop impulse buying and doubling-up on items, plus identify any items that need to be used up before they expire.
Reduce Food Waste
One of the benefits of meal planning is it’s ability to reduce food waste in the kitchen. Here are a few tips to save money with leftovers:
- Freeze it: Most foods can be frozen for use at a later date. Even foods like cooked rice can be frozen to use for a quick dinner, and bananas can be thrown in whole in their skins. I cut up veggies that won’t get used in time and freeze in snap-lock bags for soups and stews, and I freeze cheese to stop it going mouldy before we are able to use it all up.
- Leftovers for lunch: Pack up leftovers at night to take for lunch the next day.
- Leftovers reinvented: Turn leftovers into new meals! For some tasty ideas, check out all my Leftovers Reinvented recipes.
- Fridge/freezer/pantry challenge: Thoroughly clear out any items nearing their expiry date, odd items or small bits (you know, like that 1/2 cup of pasta that has been sitting in a container for the last 6 months!) from your fridge, freezer and pantry. Challenge yourself to plan a few meals for the week to use them all up.
I have always shopped the catalogues to save money and stocked up on items when they were on special. Shopping between the supermarkets for your favourite and frequently used items when on special can take a little more time and planning, but the savings can quickly add up. If you have farmer’s markets or a butcher in your area, check them out for specials or bulk prices.
Buy In Season
Buying fruit and vegetables when they are in season means not only are they at their best quality and freshness, but prices are generally lower. For a general guide on what is in season and when, click here.
Buy Store Brands
Buying store brands is usually significantly cheaper than private labels, and often there is no difference in quality!
Look For Markdowns
Purchasing meat and other fresh produce that has been marked down in price because it is getting close to its use-by date, can be a great way to save money at the checkout! If you aren’t able to use the mark-downs by the date, you can freeze for another day (including milk). Mark-down times vary from store to store, however I usually find my best mark-down bargains on Monday mornings and an hour before closing time.
Grow Your Own
Growing some of your own food is a popular past-time, whether it’s a large veggie garden or even just a large pot planted with some of your favourite herbs. You also get the benefits of a fresh air and exercise when tending the garden, plus you can turn all your food scraps (veggie peelings, egg shells, etc) into free compost to put back into the soil to feed your garden!
Make Your Own
Forget expensive pre-made items, go back to basics and make your own! From sauces to pizza bases and more, it is often cheaper to use what you already have in your pantry.
You don’t need a shelf full of expensive, store-bought cleaning products! With just vinegar, bi-carb soda and a few other inexpensive items, you can keep your home sparkling clean and fresh. Check out all my budget cleaning tips here.
Get Freebies & Discounts
There are a variety of freebies and discounts you can access to slash grocery costs:
- Cashback sites like Cashrewards allow you to save money on groceries and household purchases when you click through to the retailer from their site.
- Sign up for free and discounted food and drinks on your birthday here!
- Register for sampling and product trials to receive free samples to try here.
- Check out more Australian discounts and freebies here, including discounted meal delivery kits.
What are your best tips for saving money on groceries?