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Honey, I shrunk the grocery bill

Honey, I shrunk the grocery bill
My grocery bill is a shocker. The way prices are going grocery shopping is going to need a radical re-think in many households. Wiping the slate clean and starting again might be the way to go.

If you really want to shrink the grocery bill, start with a completely clean sheet of paper, analyse your shopping bills, and chew over these ideas:

Packet noodles. Good old fashioned basic foods such as packet noodles and baked beans make for very cheap meals. So too do pulses and beans, and they're packed full of protein.

Eat seasonally and on sale. Buy fruit and vegetables when they're in season only. Set a dollar figure and never buy vegies when they cost more than that.

Eat vegetables. Basic vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and silver beet cost far less than meat. They're also better for you.

Ditch those fish and chips. There are meals that take minutes. Literally. Try an omelette. Or whenever you're cooking, make a few extra portions and freeze them. My kids quite like our "freezer meals", which we have on nights when I just can't face cooking. The Recipe Finder's meal-maker search, will help you with quick and easy recipes when you can't be bothered cooking. Or check the low-cost budget recipes section.

Eat like your grandparents. Life has changed, but eating simple food makes sense. Your grandparents probably ate much more homemade soup than you did. And they would buy a whole chicken, not expensive breast fillets. At my house we poach our chickens whole, then use leftovers as shredded chicken in sandwiches. I feed the gristle, giblets and organs to the cat, who views this as a special treat.

Price your meals. Set yourself a limit and price all your meals as best as you can. Costs vary hugely. If the main lump of meat or fish costs $10 or more, it's a mighty expensive meal. Look for cheaper cuts of meat, use less, or bulk it out with beans. Likewise, hot porridge costs a fraction of Nutri-Grain or branded muesli for breakfast.

Grow and make your own. Certain vegetables such as courgette, pumpkin, beans and tomatoes can be grown for less than they cost in the shops and don't take much effort. Or, if you're into fancy pickles such as olives and preserved lemons, make your own. They're dead easy. Don't buy cakes from cafes. Bake your own and freeze them in portions.

Always use a list. Stick to it. Never ever buy on the spur-of-the-moment, although it is acceptable to stock up long-life goods when on sale. I filled my freezer with schnitzel recently when it was $8.99kg. It's great as a condiment for stir-fries and also casseroles. While you're at it, shop alone and never shop on an empty stomach.

Lifestyle inflation means that every time you've had a pay rise your lifestyle gets more expensive. In my case, foods that I would never buy once, become "basics". That includes fresh pasta, salmon and curry pastes. Are they basics? Poppycock. There are very few trendy or packaged foods that are cheaper than buying the individual ingredients.

Buy budget brands. Don't be a snob. You're only wasting your own money.

Eat everything. Don't ever throw any food out. Use floppy vegies in soups, make scones from sour milk, freeze expensive ingredients you've not used up such as vanilla beans and coconut milk, and eat leftovers before cooking something new. I even feed our vegetable peelings to the guinea pigs to save on bought feed.

Finally, please take the time to share some of your recipes and tips on how you have shrunk your grocery bill. We can all learn from each other.

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User comments
Most of us will have their favorite grocery store that they will always do their shopping at. I've been like that for years until a friend made the suggestion for me to shop around. It's true! Each supermarket carry different brands some cheaper than the other. Although it's not convenient, it's good to know which grocery would sell the item on my list cheaper that week and basically shop for those goods there. Of course, the trick here is to HAVE a list and STICK to it!
I menu plan for a fortnight including at least 2 vegetarian meals. I then make a list of all the ingerdients I need and stick rigidly to it. I buy veges straight from the grower and get twice the size for half the price. I also get my milk straight from the farm to which I car pool to save petrol costs getting there. The menu plan also means I dont have to think what to have for tea each night as I only have to think about it once a fortnight.Knowing what is on special at the supermarket via their fliers helps. A once a fortnight trip to the supermarket also means I spend less as I am not tempted by the specials. Have I really saved money if the product is still sitting on my pantry shelf 6 months later? probably not. If an item is on special I always think will I actually use that in the next month.
Fully agree Martha. I lived in Palmy and finding time to make lunch in the morning was a mission so what was left over from tea the night before was used up and that curried meat tasted sooo good in a sammy.
My flatmates and I have got into the great habit of always making enough dinner to feed us that night and for lunch the next day as well. As long as you've got a microwave at work and a few tupperware containers, it's a great way to save money on buying lunches. I used to try to make packed lunches but could never find the time for faffing around with sandwiches in the mornings, and would inevitably end up buying expensive sandwiches or rolls for lunch. Even if you don't think you're spending much, it all adds up from week to week. Leftovers are more yummy than sandwiches and quicker to just grab out of the fridge when they've been prepared the night before! The extra bonus of this is that there's usually not much food left for 'seconds' in the evening, which in my case is great as I only ever have seconds out of being greedy and wanting more food to taste, not actually being hungry.

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