Sunday, 22 February 2015

Shopping Around For The Cheapest Groceries

I've had a lot of people ask how I manage to feed my family of 5 on a food budget of $400 a month. Especially in Perth. Most of it is just down to meal planning, knowing the prices of what I buy regularly and shopping around for the best possible prices. Before the month begins, I will do a food audit and try to make up meals using what I already have on hand. I wrote more about it here
Once I have a meal plan and a shopping list of all the ingredients needed to prepare these meals, including baking ingredients, snacks and other household items I will need for the month, I then spend the afternoon grocery shopping. I never shop on an empty stomach, as if I'm hungry I'm more likely to make impulsive purchases.

Coconut oil and Asian cooking supplies are much cheaper at Asian grocery stores.

I buy our meat from a small Foodworks store which has a butcher onsite. The meat there is great quality and so much cheaper then at the big supermarkets. I can get a 2kg roast of pork or beef for around $15. This will do us 2-3 meals.

At Coles, I buy the bulk of my pantry, fridge and freezer items and the odd bit of meat like mince or chicken thighs because it is cheaper here then buying at my butcher. I never buy fruit and vegetables from chain supermarkets due to the inflated cost, unless items are on clearance. By shopping here I also accumulate a fair amount of Fly Buy points. Last year, I saved them all up until Christmas and got $80 off my shop!

I shop at Woolworths for bi-carb soda that I use for cleaning, making the teens facial scrub and any other items that may be on special. I used to buy Mackenzies brand of bi carb from Coles for $2.64 for 500g, unfortunately Coles do not make a generic version of this. Then I stumbled upon Woolworths Home Brand bicarbonate of soda which is only $1.59 for 500g. A great saving of $1.05, which might not seem like much, but over the course of a year would add up to big savings!

We also have a Spud Shed which opened up a few months ago. I keep an eye out for the specials and stock up then. In the past they have had carrots and broccoli for 50c and free potatoes!

Mr 8 cutting up our free potatoes ready to mash for dinner

A local volunteer run op shop also have free bread and rolls for the community. We rarely have to buy bread, as I will pick up a few loaves and keep them in my chest freezer. This really helps the food budget as bottomless pit Mr 13 will often have a couple of slices of toast after dinner if he is still hungry.

I have also found that certain items are cheaper at some stores then others. Asian ingredients like coconut oil, sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, ketsap manis, sushi rice, nori and rice paper rolls are definitely much cheaper at Asian grocery stores than at a  regular supermarket. My local store also sells fruit and vegetables and have excellent specials as well as bags of seconds stock for only 50c a bag!

Spices, dried fruit, nuts, legumes and other dried goods I buy from Kakulas Brothers in Northbridge. This place is fabulous and deserves and entire blog post to itself! I buy all my spices and pulses there in bulk every couple of months for a fraction of the cost. I am also a salt snob and buy my glorious pink Himalayan sea salt from there.

Another thing I do to save money by making my own cleaning products. I make my own laundry gel, stain remover and use bi carb soda, vinegar and essential oils for cleaning instead. I also use vinegar as a rinse aid in my washing machine and dishwasher. Instead of expensive fabric softeners and rinse aids.

By spending a bit of extra time planning and shopping around you can save heaps of money off your grocery bill. If you go past a little independent store on your travels, pop in and check out the prices. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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