Week 5 of the Money Makeover Challenge
When we started tracking our spending again in January, there were a few things that were FAR higher than I had expected. One was our food costs. Yes, I shopped with a list, yes, I meal planned each week, and no we don’t eat scotch fillets every night. So why was our food bill hitting up to $200 or $250 a week? Ahhh!! That’s over $10,000 a year in food!
My mission (in fact this has been a mission for the past 6 or so weeks) – to keep our weekly food costs to $150 or less… WITHOUT resorting to rice and beans each meal or shopping at three different supermarkets.
So what’s changed in our household when it comes to food?
1. Buying wonky or seasonal fruit and vegetables
Locally we have a Harris Farm Produce Store which has AMAZING bulk buy specials, cheap deals for wonky produce (picture giant eggplants and straight bananas) and great prices for seasonal produce. I have walked out with some seriously amazing deals. And yes, I just make my kids snack on strawberries all week, or whatever the bargain buy is that I bought!
Here was one of my biggest shops – a trolley load OVERFLOWING with food for less than $100
2. Be flexible when you shop
Following on from number 1 – be flexible. Yes, still make a quick meal plan and a list (this takes me 10 minutes max), but if you get to the store and zucchinis are on sale, you might want to switch your sweet potato frittata for a zucchini slice. I have done entire shops buying only wonky or produce on sale (because it’s in season). The bonus is that you are eating according to the Seasons, just as nature intended.
3. Don’t be so precious when it comes to having constant choice
I always felt compelled to have the fridge stocked with certain items. For example, every breakfast the kids would have a choice of 5+ different options. These days, if there is no milk, there is toast. If there is no toast, have fruit and yoghurt. Or perhaps there is enough to pull together a smoothie. The aim of the game is to use up everything before we restock. By the end of the week there may only be one choice, and that is perfectly OK.
4. Bulk cook a snack each week
I have been making one batch of muffins, slice or bliss-balls each Sunday and that IS the snack for the week apart from fruit, nuts, and perhaps hommus and veggies. No waste, no choice and no buying expensive snacks. I have been preparing a snack based on ingredients I already have, rather than choosing the recipe and then shopping for all the ingredients.
5. Delay your supermarket trips
If I think I need to go to the supermarket, I wait another day… or perhaps even two. Then I get creative with what is left in the fridge.
6. Embrace the ‘whatever is left’ meal at the end of the week!
I have been factoring in two meals a week of ‘whatever is left in the fridge’ meals. I will often do a snack plate (so basically a giant plate of the random food that is left in the fridge), a pasta sauce with all remaining veggies hidden in it or an omelette. And of course there is often unexpected left overs that will fill a meal.
My dinner snack plates – i.e ‘whatever is left in the fridge’ plate!
7. Meat free meals
We have seriously cut back on meat. No meat at breakie, rarely for lunch and at least 2 or 3 vegetarian dinners a week.
8. Not every meal has to be a gourmet delight
Do you remember those nights when you were growing up when your parents cooked up pancakes or baked beans on toast or bacon and eggs for dinner? They were the best right? For some reason, I have always felt the need for every meal to be a proper “meal”. I’ve been embracing the ‘sandwiches for dinner’ or ‘beans on toast’ dinner every now and then… particularly if we have had a lunch out or a party.
SUMMING IT UP
We have consistently been saving $50 a week on groceries for the past 6 weeks. I’m hoping the habit will stick!
How long did it take me?
I don’t feel like I’ve spent any more time food prepping or shopping than I usually do. In fact by giving myself permission not to prep a meal every night or have multiple snack options, I feel like I’m actually cooking less!
I get a kick out of these kinds of personal little challenges, and I’m not a foodie, so dare I say I’m actually finding the challenge of getting creative with food fun!
Not much time?
Why not just consider delaying your shopping days from say once a week to once every 10 days and start using EVERYTHING in your fridge or freezer before you restock.
Total money saved?
In January, our average weekly food bill was $235. For February and March this has dropped to an average of $157. (Disclaimer! my husband was away for 3 of those weeks. But I’m confident we have dropped at least $50 a week.)
For the purposes of my tally, I’m going to only include the ACTUAL savings from the past 6 weeks – $300 – BUT if we can keep this up for the entire year, that is a savings of $2,600!
Time to get a little less precious in the kitchen and use up all those carrots! (That is ALWAYS our last veggie standing… how about you?)
Here’s to living your rich life!