How To Save On Your Weekly Shop

The average Australian household spends nearly $200 per week on groceries. That amount of money could get you about 10 bottles of nice champagne, three relaxing massages, 10 movie tickets or 50 blocks of chocolate. You could treat yourself to all kinds of different things with that much money but when it comes to groceries, it never feels like the money goes that far. A few kilos of meat here and some staple items there, you’ve racked up a couple of hundred dollars with not a chocolate bar in sight.

Luckily there are many clever ways to cut down on the weekly grocery bill so you can have spare funds to buy as much chocolate as you’d like. The Cusp spoke with frugal expert Penina Peterson, the author of the popular book and blog series, $1.50 Dinners. Penina has tried and tested all kinds of methods to bring the price of a weekly shopping bill down to as low as humanly possible. Her techniques enable families to save around $600 each month, and her techniques focus on having balance, so you can still treat yourself with takeaway or go out for dinner each week too.

Here are four of Penina’s techniques to keep your servings down to the price of small change so that you can save money for the more important things in life, like chocolate.

#1 Have a strategy

Make sure you have a strong game plan when you head out for your grocery shop. According to Penina, even though she’s an expert on low spending, she says even she finds it difficult not to succumb to the powers of the shopping centre’s marketing team, so have a strategy. One-day sales, price drops and other tempting deals are created for the purpose of convincing you to purchase things that probably weren’t on your shopping list.

“Supermarket marketers are really good at their job,” says Penina. “Take a list, stick to the list, and don’t buy anything else. Focus on what you’re doing and don’t just throw stuff in your trolley. Be smart about it.”

#2 Shop at home first

Food wastage is a problem in Australia, with an estimated $3800 worth of food being disposed of per household each year. Find opportunities to use everything left in the fridge before going to restock on groceries. Not only does this prevent food waste, it can save you a lot of money each month, which translates to huge savings over a year.

Be mindful of the “use-by” and “best-before” dates on your food.

Be mindful of the “use-by” and “best-before” dates on your food and try to use products that are at the end of their shelf life first. Omelettes, soups, curries and smoothies are all great ways to use leftovers because ingredients can be simply thrown in together.

Before doing a grocery shop, try skipping it altogether by creating a meal with what you can find in the fridge. See how far you can stretch it out.

#3 Cook in bulk

Once a month, Penina suggests taking your grocery list, doing one big purchase and cooking the majority of your meals in bulk. It’s can be four to five days of shopping and cooking, but the idea is to get as much food on the table for the least amount of money.

For example, if you cook up a big mince sauce, you can use it for multiple meals including spaghetti bolognese, tacos and a shepherd’s pie. Freeze the meals and have them from Sunday through to Thursday. You’ll save both money and time.

During the week, most of us don’t get home until 7 or 8pm so, instead of wasting time each evening cooking a meal, you can just heat up your dinner in ten minutes. This way you’re able to make dinner healthily, quickly and cheaply. There’s also more time for you to relax.

According to Penina, it’s all about balance. On Friday, it’s take-away night. You can relax with a wine after work and get delicious food delivered once a week. On Saturdays, you can eat out, or choose to cook up a fresh meal while you’ve got the extra time. Eating fresh twice a week saves you from getting tired of freezer meals, too.

#4 Go easy on the meat, hard on the veggies

The more veggies you add to each meal, the healthier and cheaper it will be for you. Veggies are significantly cheaper than meat, so bulk up on your vegetable servings and get as many of them on your plate as you can. Not only is meat expensive, it has a huge impact on climate change – producing about half a kilo of beef requires more than 6500 litres of water alone. Australian nutrition guidelines recommend that we eat red meat three to four times per week, not multiple times per day as many Australians currently do.

Once you start to practice these tips, it’ll be a breeze to save on your groceries ever yweek. Your health, the environment and your wallet will all thank you later.

Sam is a freelance writer passionate about sub-cultures, oddballs of the world and music. She runs a Melbourne music website and writers banter for VICE, The LAD Bible, and other websites. You can find her on Twitter at @hamsoward.

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