January is the time I like to review my spending habit. Due to the force of habit of being an accountant, I do my household budget review on a financial (fiscal) year basis which starts from 1 July to end of June instead of calendar year. I tend to do a 6-monthly review to see how my beloved and I are progressing in terms of saving up money for our first home. So today, I would like to share with you on how I reduce my grocery expenses.
There are many ways to reduce money spent on food. It is an area of my personal budget that is fairly fluid. On the other hand, my other recurring expenditures such as rental payments, health insurance, life insurance, electricity and etc. are somewhat fixed.
You may have noticed that I used the term “fairly”. I love food and the last thing I want is to go hungry or foregoing the quality of food I put in my body. Additionally, when it comes to budget tweaks, I prefer to start small in a cost cutting exercise and work my way up. This way I don’t feel like I am cramping my lifestyle and therefore, it is less likely I will fall off the bandwagon.
The principal of saving money on groceries that works really well for me is basically to “make the best of what you have”. The following are how I do it:
Start with an organised pantry and fridge
Besides it is visually pleasing to the eyes, it is easier to have a better feel of the ingredients I already have on hand. This will come in handy when I do my pre-shopping review (see Note 2 below) and will help to avoid buying duplicate food items.
Pre-shopping review, making use of leftovers (if applicable)
Before I decide on my meal plan for the week, I will browse my pantry, fridge and freezer first. This will give me an idea of the type of meals I can prepare for the week.
For example, if I have spotty bananas I love to make a delicious and super easy banana bread using the recipe at the end of this post! This means I have my breakfast covered for the next couple of days with this homemade banana bread. Hence, I can buy less breakfast food items on this grocery run.
If I have a leftover roast chicken, I could stretch two meals from it by making fried rice with the meat and chicken corn soup from the bones. From there, I will only need to buy the required fresh ingredients to make these dishes.
Check for specials
Many of the dishes I make at home are quite versatile with the ingredients. So I love going through the catalogs to check out what’s on special and seasonal. This way I can get more variety on the food I eat and it is fun to work with different ingredients in cooking.
Once I have an idea of what I have on hand and what’s on specials, I will then structure my meal plan around it. The idea is to create a meal plan based on what you already have at home (a win for reducing food wastage!) and you can do it through the most of cost effective way by utilising the ingredients on specials.
Write a shopping list
This is a great way to buy what you really need. Having said that, writing a shopping list is easy, having the discipline to only buy what’s on the list is the tough bit. The key is to RESIST the temptation of buying items on special that aren’t on the list!
Shop less often
This will happen naturally when you have a weekly meal plan. It is about reducing the exposure of knowing items on specials which is a cause for impulse purchase.
I shopped online for grocery when I was living in Melbourne with the intention of saving time on grocery run. An unintended outcome from this was that I actually managed to buy what’s on my shopping list which is awesome! This is because there was less distraction in shopping online as compared to walking along different aisles in the supermarkets.
Do not shop hungry
This is the most common tip on saving money on groceries. It also refrains me from getting junk food too!
Shop by unit pricing
Understanding the concept of unit pricing will help in getting value of money and not solely be distracted by brands and packaging. For example in Coles and Woolworths, you will notice that the price per kilo for chicken breasts in the deli tends to be lower than the pre-packaged ones in the meat section. Thankfully in Australia, it is a requirement for large supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths as well as online stores to provide the unit price for packaged grocery items. So this makes the price comparison much easier for us.
Try to use a smaller trolley (or even a basket!)
This may not work for everyone especially for those who have large families. As I only shop for my beloved and myself, I can sometimes get away with just a shopping basket instead of the big shopping trolley. This will limit the amount of items I can carry with me and thus only place the items I really need in my shopping basket.
So I hope the above gives you some insight on how I save money on groceries. I would love to hear from your tips and tricks on how to save money on groceries. 🙂
Cafe-Quality Banana Bread with Only 4 Ingredients!
I shall leave you with what I called the “mother recipe” for a café-quality banana bread recipe that is super easy to make and with only 4 INGREDIENTS. Once you try this recipe, you won’t have the urge to buy banana bread ever again! See, this is another money saving thing you can do! *wink*