With the economy as it is at the moment, more and more families are finding it difficult to make ends meet, and our family is no exception. Each week I find it more and more challenging to provide healthy meals for my family. It seems to me that many of the healthy choices are also more expensive, and this means that one has to be creative in shopping to come up with good options. Here are a few tips that I follow each week to ensure that my small budget stretches as far as possible when shopping.
- I work out how much money I have for groceries for that week. This could vary from week to week depending on what other unexpected expenses I may have that week for example birthdays that require gifts, a school outing for the children etc.
- Before I go shopping, I go online and check out the specials at two local butchers to make sure that I know which one will be the best to shop at for that week. I determine in advance how much money I will spend on meat that week.
- I set aside a certain amount of money for fruit and vegetables for the week, and I only buy those fruits and vegetables that are cheap and in season.
- I buy a tray of eggs (30eggs) from a local dairy in the vicinity of the supermarkets I shop at as they are much cheaper.
- I then divide my remaining shop between two supermarkets that are a few hundred metres from each other. The reason for this is that certain products are cheaper at the one store and the other store is cheaper overall for grocery items. Because the butchery, dairy and the two supermarkets are all within close distance to one another this is easy to do – the only costly thing is my time as this takes a little longer than doing everything at one shop, but enables me to provide good food for the whole week for the family.
- I am not overly fussy about certain products – I have tried budget brands that have not been so good, but other budget brands have been excellent and so I am always willing to try no name brands at least once. Fortunately for us, no one in our family has special dietary needs which really helps.
- I always shop with a list so that I do not buy unnecessary items, however if there is an exceptional special I work it into my budget.
- I always add up my purchases as I shop so as to not overspend.
- I avoid certain aisles in the store – I don’t go down the biscuit aisle – I always bake my own treats for the children.
- I never shop when I am hungry or with any of my children in tow – the kids always want extra treats when they are with you and it takes too long.
- Lookout for great specials and buy extra when you can.
- I buy items like flour and sugar in bulk when I can as this always comes in handy.
- I buy cereals that are filling like weetbix or oats – very seldom will I buy sugary cereals that have no substance or nutrition.
- I seldom buy fruit juice for the children – they have been trained to drink a glass of milk or water when thirsty and we are enjoying homemade orange juice from oranges off our tree at the moment.
- I never buy precooked meals – they are expensive and full of preservatives and colourants. I always cook from scratch – the meals don’t have to be elaborate or fancy but tasty and simple.
- If I have coupons for things I need I will use them. However I don’t buy things I wouldn’t normally buy just because there is a coupon.
- Yummy treat meals like burgers can cost a lot for a family of our size. We enjoy making our own homemade burgers on the BBQ – they are tastier and more healthy too!
All these tips help to keep me on track when I am following a tight budget. I would love to hear of any other tips should you have any. Shopping this way is time consuming, but once you get into a habit of going to certain shops and following a pattern, it does become easier. I wouldn’t recommend travelling great distances for one or two specials, but if like me everything is in a block radius then it is economical to shop this way. Happy shopping and here’s hoping your buck goes a long way!!