Chances are, if you are the one who picks up the weekly groceries, you have noticed your bill increasing exponentially. Not only are fresh food prices at record highs, but it seems most if not all our packaged foods have significantly increased in price. The good news is that it is possible to save a serious amount each week, once you know a few key steps shop smart, utilise sale items and not waste money on core foods that you can find at budget friendly prices.
The power of planning
The first step in reigning in your supermarket spend is to spend a little time each week planning ahead. Here you can plan to utilise ingredients you already have in the freezer or pantry; make the most of leftover vegetables and sauces and use up all those tins of food you have had sitting at the back of the cupboard for as long as you can remember. Building meals from their base often requires us to purchase a number of new ingredients and much money can be saved by a few minutes taking stock of what you already have and can make good use of.
It is safe to say that most Aussie’s will benefit from eating more veges and a focus on frozen veges – mixed, chopped veges, cauliflower rice, sweet potato pasta and stir fry mixes is not only a cost-effective option, at just $2-$4 a serve, but these veges can easily be added to all your favourite meals – think chicken and vege pies, spag bol with vege based noodles, stir fries with cauliflower rice and pasta bakes topped up with extra frozen veges. Pre-made frozen meals too, including the new Veg’d Up Lean Cuiisne range, which offer 2 ½ vege serves per meal can be a nutritious, cost-effective alternative to ordering in or grabbing fast food on the way home.
Save on key staples
Whilst some specific foods such as high fibre breads, artisan crackers, special sauces and indulgent treats have more expensive price tags, many other foods including dairy, baking products, wholegrains and legumes are the same product no matter what the packaging or price tag says. This means that we are silly to be paying more for butter, cheese, flours, sugar, oats and legumes that are the exact same product whether they are branded or not. When you seek out the cheapest varieties of produce which have minimal packaging you will slash $20-$30 from your shop each week.
Be smart with your lunch options
If you consider that a meal you pick up from a café or food court can cost close to $20 for a single meal, it makes sense to prioritise bringing your lunch from home. Whether you cook extra at night and make good use of leftovers; keep a supply of soup and tinned fish that can be enjoyed quickly and easy as a filling lunch or opt for a nutritious, calorie controlled frozen meal such as a serve of Lean Cuisine Spaghetti Bolognaise or Thai Green Chicken Curry, not only will your nutrition be improved but you will save plenty of money as well.
Seek out the deals on protein
If you have ever shopped after dinner, you will have noticed that the discount stickers appear on fresh produce items around 7pm each night. This is the time of day that meat, chicken and fish that is nearing its use by date have their prices slashed by up to 50%. In addition, each week your favourite supermarket will have various meat, chicken or fish cuts on sale. Choosing your proteins based on these price savings will significantly slash your weekly shopping bill, whilst assisting your meal planning each week, as will buying these proteins in bulk when they are on sale and freeze them so that you have a supply of cost-effective meal bases on hand.