Grocery shopping on a budget

I recently told some friends that my food budget is $100 a fortnight. They all told me this was impossible how on earth could i manage that? Well my house is chocked full of food! I think the reason is that alot of people don't take the time to actually work out how to eat and shop properly. They just buy what they want and bam they have spent $300 to feed two people. I get it, I really do. My issue at the moment is that im so good at shopping to a budget that I actually have too much food! Its cheaper to buy in bulk, alot of us know this but when you are just a family of one adult and a preschooler it means your cupboard and freezer are packed full of half eaten packets and leftovers. I have several bags of frozen pasta sauces in my freezer as well as about 5 jars (i use glass clip top jars from kmart in my pantry to keep the moths out) of cereal.

I hate to be wasteful but most of the things you buy at the shops are designed to feed a family of 4-5. Unless i want to eat the same thing everyday then i will end out with alot of leftovers.

I will break down how to shop for $50 a week and not starve first so that you can see how I actually do this.

1. Meal plan. Look at what you have and what you can add just one or two ingredients to make a meal out of then chose those ingredients based on what else you can make from those left overs. 

2. Add vegies (frozen is just as nutritious and often cheaper) to bulk out a meal.

3. Keep it simple. In the age of tv chefs and cooking competitions and health gurus we seem to think that the more ingredients a meal has the tastier and healthier it is...not true! 

4. Make leftovers. If a meal says it serves 4 i guarantee it will serve 6. They say serves 4 so you buy more to feed more. We as a society eat far too big servings when all we need is a small bowl. You will feel better for it i promise. 

5. Look at the cost per 100g, not the total. This means that a 1kg bag might be $1 and a 2kg bag is $1.50 so the bigger bag is better value. 

6. we generally don't snack. It's a bad habit and a big money suck. If my son says he is hungry he gets fruit or toast, or occasionally cheese or yoghurt depending on what was on sale.

Okay onto the example grocery list. (I usually shop at Woolworths, I actually find Aldi more expensive as you can't get homebrand)

Groceries I always have on hand:

Tinned diced tomatoes 60c
Rice  (essentials longgrain 5kg $6.70 or .13c/100g or woolworths brand med grain 5kg $10 for 20c/100g see how much different brands vary, rice is rice)
Canned corn kernals 90c
Frozen peas and corn $2.35
Sausages pack of 24 $9.50
butter $2.75
homebrand margarine $1.60
White bread loaf $1.50 (again bread is bread no matter the fancy packaging)
Spaghetti $1.00 (i actually dont like the cheapest brand so i go the next up)
Beef mince $7
Assorted herbs and spices
Tomato paste $2 (i get the squeeze one that doesnt go bad as fast)
Frozen pizza $3
Cheese shredded $5 (yes shredded is almost 5x the cost of block but im tired and lazy)
Milk $1 (i get longlife)

Now the frozen pizza is something i got of Frugalwoods. Frankly being the only person in the house that cooks i certainly dont want to do it everyday so on those days rather than getting $40 worth of takeaway i chuck a frozen pizza in the oven.

Ok so here is the meal plan. You will notice that my lunch is generally leftovers from the night before or a previous week. The free leftover is because i generally get over eating a meal before i finish all the frozen leftovers i packed so i have a few from previous weeks that i can choose from. I entered all of this into the Woolies online shopping feature and even considering most of this i would buy on sale or already have in my pantry this fortnight it came to $96.11. This is including potatos, onions and carrots which would last me several months so i wouldn't be buying it each week so that $8.90 would be $0 on some fortnights, but i tried to include everything here so you can see that it is very possible to do! Likewise the bacon i buy the bulk pack for $9 and divide it to freeze so it can last me 6months. Cerial, pasta these things also last longer than the fortnight so i dont buy as often.

To break it down further. The roast chicken is the most economical as it does 3 meals.

  1. The roast chicken with roast potato and gravy only used about 1/4 of the chicken. The rest i pick off and freeze. 
  2. Then i use half of that for the curried chicken (just add chicken stock, milk and curry powder) 
  3. Then once I have picked the bones after the roast, I put the carcass in the pressure cooker for 2hrs with water, pepper corns, onions and carrot or what ever you have really and freeze the stock. This stock I then use through the week but especially to make the chicken and corn soup on Thursday. This is just reheat the stock, whats left of the chicken, half a can of corn blended and the rest of the can all thrown in. You can break up some spaghetti to go in for chicken noodle soup also. The blended corn acts as a thickener and the super rich homemade chicken stock is not only free and tastes amazing but is full of antioxidants and minerals. 
College spaghetti i hear you ask? Yes this was one from my super budget days. All it is is cooked spaghetti thrown into a baking dish with a can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup then add what ever veg and leftover meats you have. Add cheese to the top if you have it then bake until its all hot. Makes heaps for about 20c a serving haha.

The benefit of buying things on sale is that then you have a few extra $$ to buy treats like icecream or jelly. Meat is the biggest sale item. Try and find marked down for quick sale items. As long as you freeze it when you get home and eat it the same day you defrost it then you just saved 50-80% off the price of meat. If i see a big markdown i will buy several trays and freeze them which can last me weeks. I once found whole chickens marked down from $9 to just $3. I bought 4 of them. The large tray of sausages is also a huge money saver on meat as it is $9.50 for the tray which i only use 6 per meal so thats 4-5 separate 5 serving meals I can make.

Other meals on rotation are:
Chicken kiev
homemade pizzas
Tuna bake
Pasta and sausage bake
zucchini fritters or balls
corn cakes
slow cooked pulled pork
various roasts
Beef stew with cheezy dumplings

My grocery budget also includes anything you buy from a supermarket so cleaning products and nappies. However i buy these so rarely that its not worth putting it in this example.

Cleaner: Vinegar  ($2 for 2L) bicarb ($1.59 for 500g) and water
Laundry powder $3.69 4kg (essentials brand, lasts about 3months)
Toilet paper $8.50 24pack (woolworths select lasts about a year, no joke)
Shampoo and conditioner Tresemme $7 for the large bottles (lasts about 3months)
Dish liquid $7 (its actually dish and hand wash from coles. Smells amazing and lasts about 4months)

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