I set myself a challenge to only spend $200 on the fortnightly food shop. August is a crazy month for us as we have around 5 (immediate) family birthdays which pulls at the purse strings, and I’m hoping to save a few hundred dollars to buy a chicken coop. So as most of our money is tied up elsewhere, I thought I’d see if I could use the food budget to scrounge a few pennies to put towards the purchase.
I normally allow about $300-$350 per fortnight to feed a family of 5. Our children are only small so we find this amount covers us at the moment without having to be too strict. I usually shop fortnightly, and then top up with fresh fruit and veg and milk after the first week. I use a meal plan to organise our dinners and lunches and use budget-friendly breakfasts. I find the fewer times I go to the shops, the more money I save.
So, the first step was to look through the freezers, fridge and pantry and use the food I already have to base my meals on. Meat is usually the most expensive to buy so I tend to buy extras when they’re on sale. So in the freezer I have plenty of chorizo, bacon, chicken breasts, sausages and beef mince.
You don’t have to be fancy when deciding what dinners to cook on a tight budget. There’s nothing wrong with meat and veg or an easy pasta dish. So we’ll be having meals like chilli con carne, chicken pie with roast veges, beef stroganoff with mash and I will also slide in a breakfast dinner that the kids go nuts for; pikelets with jam and cream. This light meal will be followed by a filling dessert, maybe apple pie (bought on sale and in the deep freeze) with custard or my favourite, sticky-date cupcakes with a warm fudge sauce.
Breakfasts are usually porridge (healthy, super filling and cheap), toast, or poached egg. We usually have it with tea, milk or hot chocolate (I make my own, see recipe below).
For lunch hubby and I usually have any leftovers from dinner, but I’m also making ham and salad wraps (wraps are less than $2 for a pack of 8 at Aldi), tuna and corn muffins, homemade sausage rolls and easy sushi (recipe here http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/sushi-kids). The salad wraps we’ll have first so the salad doesn’t spoil, and the muffins and sausage rolls can be frozen. Mr 9 will usually have one of these for lunch in his lunchbox, as well as two pieces of fruit and a treat (homemade cake or biscuits, popcorn or pretzels).
Homemade Hot Chocolate
1/3 cup cocoa powder (we like Nestle cocoa the best)
2/3 cup caster sugar
Mix together well, store in an airtight container
You can adjust the quantities to taste. We find that this is perfect for us as it’s not too sweet, and has a rich chocolatey taste. I use one teaspoon per mug, add a small quantity of hot water to mix into a paste and then fill with milk. Heat in the microwave until hot. Stir and enjoy!
The challenge was actually more easier than i anticipated really. What made it simple and easy to stick to and to be honest I will be doing this more often, as it not only saves me money on my budget but also cuts back on wastage too. A double win by my books.
So lets recap on how I did the challenge and you can too, look and do a stock take on what you have in your cupboard, fridge and freezer. Make sure you check the use by date as well.
Now write out you meal plan for the fortnight using what you have in your home. This will help you to write your shopping and ensure that you are only purchasing what you need not want you don’t. Let’s be really honest with ourselves you do not need 5 cans of bake beans or 6 packages of pasta for a week.
Make sure your really intentional with you shopping list and only get what you need to fill your meal plan, which should not be too much only the fresh food like vegetables, fruit and dairy.
You will be amazed at how many meals you can actually make with what you have already in your pantry, fridge and freezer. So, why not give it go and see how much you can save on your grocery bill that can help you get further to one of your other goals in life, like a holiday or new car.
If you looking for more tips to help you with great tasting, quick to make and inexpensive meals then check out our other recipes, and share with us your tips to save money on your grocery bill.