Getting that grocery budget down.


The grocery budget finally seems to be under control.  Our 20 points for getting it right (for us anyway):

 Budget at the beginning of the month before you are paid.  We do it a few days before salary comes in.
  1. The grocery budget then is divided over four weeks.
  2. We only major shop once a month.  It makes a huge difference not to be popping into the shop every week.  You waste less money on things you should not buy in the first place. This also means our poor baby is not getting PnP animal cards.
  3. Menu plan.  We menu plan and cook ahead so that there are good meals ready and waiting.  This avoids having to buy something you can cook quick, because most convenience meals tend to cost more. This also avoids the take away thing. (this is a post on its own)
  4. As an aside, we have budgeted two take away meals a month, or one sit down meal at a restaurant.  We make the most of it, and because it is limited, we carefully pick what we want to do. We prefer the take away, because then we make it a family movie night thing.
  5. We no longer sale shop (because we find that it actually wastes money more often than not.  I remember thinking that was nonsense, until we stopped doing it.
  6. Our grocery budget includes non food items like dish washing liquid and toiletries. It also includes the cat food.
  7. Yo do not have to buy everything at once. If there is something you want to buy that is not on the list, write it down for the next list.  Then the next time you will end up seeing if you really needed that, because the impulse is gone.
  8. Some things we do buy in bulk:  Meat, because it is cheaper like that.  We eat loads of game meat, because it just has so much less fat than any other red meat we have come across. So if we bulk buy the game meat, then that is the meat.  We normally don’t use it all up in one month.  With the menu planning it is so much easier to balance the meals, because you know what you are eating over a long period.  We ensure all portions have enough veggies. Also, because starch cannot be frozen, we eat less of it.  Not because we believe in Banting, but because it is icky defrosted. So if we did the bulk game this month, next month is will be chicken.
  9. We buy frozen veggies for cooking and only what fresh veggies are in season.  They just are much better quality and priced when you buy in season.  The same goes for fruit.
  10. We only buy fruit once a week, and then it is one or two at a time.  We only get as much as can be eaten in one week.  I eat about two or more portions of fruit a day and HB two, and Hubby we have to force feed. Fruit is a huge money waster.  You buy too much because it looks yummy in the store, and then it ends up going bad at home.
  11. We have an A4 white board and marker next to the fridge.  As soon as something is approaching finishing, we write it on the list. This is the only shopping list (other than the one menu planning weekend).  We stick by this list very strictly.  No deviations allowed.
  12. HB and Hubby get lunch at work and school, so I am the only one needing lunch everyday…I tend to eat leftovers.  HB’s snack box is standard and stays mostly the same: Yoghurt, biltong, cheese, crackers,fruit, sandwich..and it varies only slightly.  We buy all the snack stuff monthly as well. (Not yoghurt, and I do homemade yoghurt for myself)
  13. Breakfasts are also very standard in our house…oats or bread.  And then pancakes or eggs, etc over weekends.
  14. We make our own burger patties, meatballs and planning sausages as well.  We are not super healthy earth types, but it just tastes better when we make our own.  A burger and chips is a good substitute for when the take away craving hits.
  15. Like mentioned above, the biggest thing to reduce the grocery budget is the menu planning.  It so easily becomes a part of your life, that there is no other way.
  16. On a weekend, we will cook something that has starch in it…like a breyani or curry that include potatoes or something like that.
  17. DO not be afraid of leftovers, they are your friend.
  18. We have a deep freezer, so we are able to freeze ready made meals and buy meat ahead.
  19. You also have to make a hard decision, that you just cannot have some things.  Yes we can buy it, but it is not in the budget.  If we spend it all, there will be no money saved and nothing extra to the home loan.
This can only work if the whole family is committed to it.  You have to work at it together and make sure everyone is happy.  No one wants to feel like they cannot move an inch…so you need a tad bit of float in that budget to be human.

14 responses »

  1. Oh I LIKE you 🙂 Hahahahaha. I agree with most of the above although we differ slightly on a few things. We don’t have a deep freezer so buying food in bulk, especially meat, is near impossible. We don’t eat game at all, I think it’s a mindset thing, no particular reason, just strange for us not to eat cow, pig (my absolute fav!!!) or chicken! I have a board too and deviate very little from the board. I shop weekly – I’ve done the comparison of weekly versus monthly and it mostly works out the same and then of course, there’s the space issue so even if we wanted to shop monthly, we’d have to perhaps ask the neighbor if we could store our meat there, hehe. I also plan for the week ahead and that’s how I shop. As for lunches, I generally eat whatever there is in the house – sometimes I eat tomatoes, carrots and then a piece of meat just because that was all there was. But hubby usually has leftoevers. I feel you on the fruit and I’m seeing that more now that both kids are in school – I get fruit at work and the hubster and nanny don’t eat fruit, so there’s no point buying loads of fruit when it’s just going to go off. People can slate organized people as much as they want but honestly, in cases like this, I find that organization works very well. Oh – I also split my food budget over the number of weeks so I know how much I spend weekly and I make sure I’m within. If I go over, I know for the next week, I have to be more strict. And we don’t do much takeouts, I’d rather just put chicken burgers in the oven on a Friday or make 2minute noodles ‘cos takeout is also very pricey 😦

    • Having read the comments, I thing we are strange…with the game. I also did not eat much growing up. However, now I do. I just about never serve it to guests, because I am not sure how people feel about it.
      For me it came from the fact that I don’t eat pork or beef, and I struggled with getting good quality lamb here in Gauteng, when I first moved here. Game became a viable solution when I worked out how to cook it.
      I agree on the takeout…if it cannot be better than I make myself, then what is the point? Why pay for cardboard meals.

  2. Things cost so much nowadays. And when you add cleaning things to your trolley it costs a bomb.
    I also love buying fresh fruit & veg and end up throwing half of it away or on the compost.
    I’m especially bad a Woolies. Have you noticed you buy of bunch of Woolies stuff and then that’s all you eat for 2 days because it all expires in a few days.
    I can’t get into making meals for the freezer, but we have become masters of the quick meal which is usually grilled steak or chicken with frozen veg and either oven chips or boiled spuds. I’m so grateful that Liam eats pretty much everything. He just has an aversion to green beans

    • Yes, the price of the average shop is shocking. It feels so sad when you compare what you paid with what is in your trolley.
      I just about never shop at Woolies anymore. I find that by sticking to in season fresh food, you can still good quality items cheaper at other places. Also, because I have a hubby in retail, I know about where Woolies get some of their produce.
      I save Woolies for the kiddies meals and those cinnamon doughnuts and hazelnut latte.
      I don’t think make ahead food works for everyone. The quick meal makes me want to cry, because I hate dishes.

  3. Thank you for writing the post. It sounds quite similar to our methods

    but I need to take my head out of the sand and look at this again. Maybe I should take over shopping for June because it’s getting out of hand again.

    We never ever eat game 🙂 I only buy mince or chicken, and I do buy pork sausages. Really, is there anything better? 🙂

    Maybe we should next write about suppers – I’m curious about how people do it.

    PS I NEVER chase sales, same as I never chase petrol prices going up 🙂

      • I mentioned to Jodie, I don’t eat pork or beef, and I don’t love seafood or chicken enough. I also love mushrooms, and for it makes everything taste better.
        Yes, dinners would be interesting, we could all learn from each other.
        I think it is easy to let the budget slide. For us, the grocery budget was so easy to get out of control and seemed the best place to save. Hence we tackled it first. Hopefully it will continue to work.

  4. I love these kind of posts, our budget was always out of control, but it’s gotten a lot better, I am saving quite a bit now, but still, monthly things just seem so much and we do a double take on a lot of things. I must say, that we do buy Makro specials, BUT, I keep an eye out on our usuals every month and then compare to their “special”, so that when we do get it, I know it’s really a saving, and it usually then keeps us for a few months, we have a special savings account just for those kind of things.

    We buy our meat from Food Lovers opposite Eastgate now, took us a while to find a proper butcher, but for now they are excellent. We don’t eat game meats, I get hectically sick from it, and right now Chicken is completely out 😉 Still cannot stomach chicken.

    We need to get back into the habit of shopping monthly again, with me not feeling up to it the past couple of month has set us back, but I am determined to get back onto that horse again, it saves a ton of money.

    • It makes a big difference to see your budget written down every month. You cannot fool yourself. I also use a budget app on my phone, so I can compare what we budgeted against what we actually spent.
      I think you have to know your prices so you know if something is a good deal or not.
      I have to admit, I hate shopping myself, and I get tired.
      You are growing precious cargo in there…take care.

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