We are a family of 4 living from paycheck to paycheck most months and I have gotten our groceries down to between R2000 and R2500 a month*. We aren’t big eaters but we like to entertain and there are more than 4 kids eating and drinking in my house most days.
*Added in: This does not include entertainment.
1. Meal planner & Leftovers
We have a menu that we eat by most months. Yes it can get a bit boring, but it saves me loads of thinking and cooking time. We generally have the following:
Monday – Pasta (chicken or beef)
Tuesday – Stir Fry (chicken)
Wednesday – Try something new
Thursday – Stew (chicken or beef)
Friday – Egg & Toast
Saturday – 2 x Braais or Eat out
Sunday – Roast (chicken or beef)
We eat a lot of chicken as it is much cheaper than beef.
Depending on how much food is leftover from the previous night we will mostly have it for lunch the next day or we will have it for dinner again. Eg. the other night I made a large Mac-n-cheese for dinner we only ate half of it and the next night instead of making whats on the menu I made some chops and served it with the leftovers. Saved me time, money and less dishes.
2. Shopping List
Planning your meals and writing out what you need for each meal makes it less likely that you have food in your cupboard or trolley that you won’t cook. I have a standard list with most thing I need to buy for the month like the girls lunch items and my cleaning supplies and toiletries.
Once I worked out my menu I would insert the food items onto the sheet including how much I need of each item and what the cost was at the store the previous month as well as how much I’m willing to pay for each item.
This may be the most obvious way to cut down on costs, but I hunt for specials like a crazy person. Have you seen extreme couponing? I will be a rock start. Around to 20th of a month my budget it worked out and I then start downloading and collect all the special leaflets from the stores in our local mall as well as all the shops that are within walking distance from my office.
My sheet has an average price column followed by a column for each store and I then fill in all the prices and discounts offered at those stores. I will then mark what products I will buy at what store. This means I will get to my local store at month end with my list and compare prices as I buy and if it is cheaper elsewhere (within walking distance from my office because driving for a R2 save is stupid) I will go buy those items the next day.
If there is a really good bulk special i will spend a little extra because it saves me loads in the long run.
4. Checking your cupboards
Do you really need 6 shampoos? I generally use 1 shampoo a month so I try to have 2 in the cupboard. Our tomato sauce lasts for 3 months so I check my bottle monthly and as soon as there is a third of a bottle left I buy a new one.
My list has how much of what I need on and I check every cupboard in my house the day before I go shopping and mark off what I don’t have to get. This saves money as well as space in my cupboards.
4. Go without
This may seem silly but note that we do not go without important things. There are certain things that i just refuse to pay more for. I do not pay more than R49.99 p/kg for mince so if I cannot find it that price I don’t buy it. If the cheese is over R69 p/kg we don’t have cheese.
I buy a 1kg pack of deboned picked breasts and instead of placing the entire pack in the freezer I repack them into bags of 2 breasts per bag. This saves me from using too much meat for a meal and if I need more I can take out another without having to cook for 8 people to not feel like I am wasting food. This takes time to repack and freeze but its saves money and prevents wasting.
How do you save money on your monthly shopping? If you have any tips please share them in the comments.
Did you enjoy this post? Do you want more of this? Make sure to subscribe on you right and share with your friends. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for shorter versions of what happens in our lives daily, or you can follow to Education series.