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Thread: Need ideas - how to reduce grocery bill

  1. #1

    Question Need ideas - how to reduce grocery bill

    I've just come home from doing our f/nightly shop and I could cry. The bill just seems to be creeping up and up. Two big reasons for that are probably that the kids and I are at home full time now (so here for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner most days) and DS is eating more food now that he's older.



    We are not extravagant with our groceries by any stretch of the imagination - we don't buy chips, soft drink, lollies, chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, none of that stuff. We shop at Aldi and I really don't know how to get this bill down but with me not working, I've really got to try or we're going to be cutting into money that's budgeted elsewhere.

    We buy our fruit, veg and meat at a local market. Meat is brought in bulk every 6 weeks or so, fruit & veg f/nightly.

    We were spending around $170 f/night at Aldi (today was $210 ), $60 on fruit and veg and about $150 every 6-8 weeks on meat. Does this seem over the top for a family of 4?

  2. #2

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    i would think thats great. We spend $150 a week (not including formula and nappies) and there is just the 2 of us. My sister has 2 girls and spends about $180 a week and my other sister has 6 in their house and spends $200-220 a week.

    If you break that down... its costing you $140 a week for all that.

    as for ideas of how to reduce it.. im not sure. Mayb buy in bulk from the compaines.. such as spc etc

  3. #3

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    Yeah, I don't think it is too bad actually but it just keeps creeping up. I was just looking at my receipt and had to buy a few extra items this fortnight that I don't buy every time - shampoo and conditioner, cleaning products, sposies and wipes (grrrr, hate buying them but DS wears them at night and i only get one packet a month) so I guess that alone adds up to the extra $30.
    Last edited by Willow; March 13th, 2009 at 05:37 PM.

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    Yeah i think thats a pretty good amount actually, we spend about $100 a week, and $100 meat every 4-6 weeks, just for the two of us. Oh jazz eats a little bit but not much LOL

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    what about buying your cleaning product in bulk from places like big W?
    i spend $40 per yr on washing powder by buying a big box.
    also toilet paper from there(i like quilton)

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    We are a family of 8, and it costs us around $160 a week......

    *I breastfeed and use cloth nappies, so that cuts down a lot
    * I buy cheaper cuts of meat and make YUMMY meals in the slow cooker or we bbq
    * I use only bi carb and vinegar for cleaning, no bought products except washing powder
    * I bake... its so much cheaper and yummier
    * side of the road stall up here for all fresh produce, its great (about an extra $30 a week)
    * I buy all shamp's, cond's, toothpaste, loo paper etc at the "cheap" shops
    * buy whatever is on sale, like cereals, pastas etc...

    I'll be back if I think of any more babe...

  7. #7

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    I actually think that's pretty reasonable...but you can save money by cooking from scratch as much as possible (ie don't buy packet mixes or cooking jars), going through your pantry and fridge and doing an inventory of what you have then planning meals based on that, and meal planning. Actually meal planning is the main way you can save money - plan all your meals for the week or fortnight in advance, write a list of the ingredients that you need, and only buy what you have on the list.

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    That sounds really reasonable to me too. We usually spend $100 a week shopping at Aldi, but sometimes I have to pick up some extras at Safeway so it pushes the bill up a bit more. We have just started our own veggie patch so we're hoping that will save us some money, we've also just planted lots of fruit trees (apples, pears, mandarin, lemon and a blueberry bush), but I don't expect to get any fruit from them for another year or so. But it's a start!

    Do you have a slow cooker? The cheaper cuts of meat taste great in the slow cooker!

    It sounds to me like you are doing everything you can to keep the cost down. My MIL lives by herself (FIL is in a nursing home) and she can spend up to $300 a week on groceries ! So you guys are doing well LOL!

  9. #9

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    We're going through abit of an extravagant phase at the moment but (before my DH's significant raise at the end of last year) we really had to pull in the purse strings.

    We're a family of 5. Our 13yo DD eats more than what I do (she's into athletics and is fit though)... and we have 2 young boys. We currently spend $200 a week at the supermarket/s on "consumables" not just groceries... I lump things like hair dye and my DH's expensive psoriasis shampoo in with that budget. We don't eat red meat but we eat good quality fish and organic free range chicken... but also have at least 2 vego meals per week.

    Ways that we save when we have to include:

    Buying bulk laundry powder like Doudou said... we buy Omo or Drive and it works out to be $2.40 per kilo when you buy in bulk.

    Lots of bulk products are worth buying but don't take it for granted that it's cheaper... take a calculater with you. Non perishables are the best things to buy in bulk.

    Don't compromise with meat. You usually get what you pay for. I buy my chicken from a local independant supermarket which if you go early on a Saturday has amazing specials. I can't stand most supermarket chicken... can't stand the bleachy taste... but this place sells good quality chicken which I only buy on special.

    I basically have expensive tastes which is a real handicap LOL because once you have experienced the best it's hard to "go back" to what you had before.... so to deal with this I basically wait until what i want is on special and I plan my meals around that. However I also cook mainly from scratch so feel confident making do with whatever ingredients are available.

    Things like toothpaste and tissues can be bought from the HomeBrand range... ok, not ideal, but won't be too intolerable. Don't buy Homebrand shampoo though... it's nothing better than dishwashing detergent. Homebrand automatic dishwashing powder is almost universally fine... I think i have tried them all... does the job.

    Try not to buy things like pancake, biscuit, cake mix.... making these from scratch using homebrand flour and homebrand butter is waaaaay cheaper.

    We buy longlife (UHT) milk. Saves us a fortune compared to fresh. We go through almost 2L a day!!! (remember I do a lot of cooking from scratch).

    Long life cream is also a weekly purchase... once again much cheaper and the risk of it going to waste is reduced.

    Try to cook with cheap protein sources like legumes: dahl, split peas, lentils. Indian Dahl is one of our favourites... served on a bed of Basmati rice (bought in bulk) with papadams and a dob of chutney can work out to be about $2 a serve.... pleases my whole family... doesn't have to be spicy.

    If you like a drink (wine) with meals don't pay any more than about $5 a bottle. Buy in boxes of 12 bottles when you can afford it... Dan Murphies sells a drinkable Chardonnay for about $2.70 a bottle if you buy it in bulk. I add a drop of Cassis to my glass of Chardy and this becomes a classic French apertif called "Kir".

    If I can think of anything else I'll add

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    *I breastfeed and use cloth nappies, so that cuts down a lot
    Me too! But DS is a toddler now so he needs some food! LOL. I spend $16 a month on nappies because he wears them at night (he wakes if he's in cloth which seems to be a common problem in older bubs)

    * I buy cheaper cuts of meat and make YUMMY meals in the slow cooker or we bbq
    We do this too and yep Trish, we have a slow cooker too but I haven't really used it in summer. It's cooling off a bit so might get it out again.

    * I buy all shamp's, cond's, toothpaste, loo paper etc at the "cheap" shops
    I'm not fussy, I get all of this at Aldi these days so it's pretty cheap!
    * I use only bi carb and vinegar for cleaning,
    I need to learn how to do this! I don't get how bi carb or vinegar is going to get my shower clean

    I do use vinegar on our floors if I'm not using my steam mop. I do buy surface cleaner, loo cleaner, window cleaner (tried vinegar and it just didn't work??). I don't buy these very often though, maybe once every few months.

    I am going to try meal planning next fortnight and see if that helps, should have done it this fortnight because I've been thinking about it for a few weeks but wasn't organised enough.

    I generally do cook from scratch but will use the odd packet side dish too - again these are only 99c from Aldi and my kids love them unfortunately I do need to bake more. I was thinking on the way home I should start making pancakes from scratch rather than buying the packets. I've been making the kids pancakes for afternoon tea lately and they love them.

    Thanks for all your tips, keep them coming if you think of any others!
    Last edited by Willow; March 13th, 2009 at 03:50 PM.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willow View Post
    I need to learn how to do this! I don't get how bi carb or vinegar is going to get my shower clean

    I do use vinegar on our floors if I'm not using my steam mop. I do buy surface cleaner, loo cleaner, window cleaner (tried vinegar and it just didn't work??). I don't buy these very often though, maybe once every few months.

    !
    I have half vinegar,half water in a squirter for surface, windows, mirrors and loos etc. I use different cloured microfibre cloths and its streak free..

    In the shower i use hot water with vinegar in a bucket with a squegee (sp? brain freeze!) and just scrub with the soft side and sqegee off... clean and spotless....For the bath and loo, sink etc I sprinkle on bi carb, tip on vinegar, it fizzes, and then clean..

  12. #12

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    Cooking from scratch: Don't feel pressured to follow recipes too religiously. Learn to "make do". If the recipe says "hazelnuts" feel free to throw in whatever nuts you have... the ones that you have had the longest as a priority (rotating your pantry is a valuable habit!). If the recipe says lime juice then try lemon or orange or even mandarin if that's what's sitting in your fruit basket... a certain amount of experiementation within "families" of foods is a good thing. When I make a fruit cake I take note of the total weight of dried fruit in the recipe.... and then happily substitute! So instead of using currants, raisins and sultanas I might throw in dates, crasins (dried cranberries) or even pitted prunes! rather than going out and buying exactly what it says. I can safely say I haven't made a failure fruit cake!

    At least grow a herb garden... fresh bought herbs go off soooo fast and buying a whole bunch is usually a total waste. Grow from food scraps and seeds if you can rather than buying seedlings. Most herbs "go to seed"... and when this happens just bend the plant over (when it's looking almost dead ie the seeds are dry and mature) and dig it in... water well and voila! You'll have a whole new crop come up! For free!

  13. #13

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    Well everyone has covered heaps...

    We buy no name brand stuff for our basics like rice, pasta etc etc... Aldi is actually really far from our house, so we have to do it a bit differently.

    We have a family of 4, and the girls eat quite a bit, and have food intolerances so we can't buy anything with milk, banana, almonds, or oats in it which is actually quite hard. I cook from scratch, and do a bake up weekly.

    Our food budget is $180/week. We buy our meat from the butcher, we buy our fruit & veg from either the markets or the local green grocer. Everything else is from a big shop. We have to buy 10 litres of rice milk a week. That from Coles is $22 and from Woolley's is $25. Its no easy task. If I go to Aldi, its $10 in petrol and doesn't have all that we need because of the allergies... so we have to go to a major shop or health food shop to finish the shop which is hard.

    I don't use cleaners, I use bi-carb and vinegar. I also use soap nuts to wash our clothes in and in the dish washer (with vinegar).

    Its hard because we sacrifice a bit of $$ for being allergic and chemical free, but its the only way we can do it. Sometimes it can take me a full day to do the shopping, or it has to be cut down into 2 days and I'm still not allowed to bring M to the shops... so that makes it all fun.

  14. #14

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    Christy - I can imagine how hard it is for you guys We've had DS dairy free so far which means buying lactose free milk for him from coles (although he is b'fed, he has a cup of milk a day and also has it on his cereal etc) and it's expensive! We are slowly trying to reintroduce dairy and see how he handles it (gave him horrible diarrhea in the past). We've tried a bit of yoghurt here and there and so far, so good (this was the biggest culprit in the past, days and days of diarrhea after the smallest amount). It also means snacks for him can be tricky because for DD it was mainly fruit, dried fruit, cheese and yoghurt.

    We're hoping that as he approaches 18 months he may be able to tolerate it better - here's hoping!

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    I think thats reasonable....i spend $320 this week on food - thats not meat. From Coles. That should last a fortnight....

    I do all my shopping online....i dont know if im saving money....im defn saving time and energy. I suppose i stick to my budget each fortnight ($300 or thereabouts) and i can delted items if i go over it.........

    I used to meal plan - i still do........BUT, i would write out meals for the next 14 nights...buy all the ingredients....but then end up throwing food items out (e.g buk choy, mushrooms, etc) coz by the time i got to use them (i.e 10 days later !!!) they were rather sad looking. So now, i write down what NIGHt of the week we are having meatloaf, or stir fry etc, so that i reduce the amount of food im throwing out. It worked last fortnight....and we've kicked this fortnight off pretty well.

    I find all the tips helpful....but food has gone up in price considerably.....theres no escaping that.....

  16. #16

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    i spend $500 a mth on food and what not. so i think ur doing pretty good.

    mbear: very true, there is just not getting out of it cheap anymore

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    great thread!

    christy, you cn use soap nuts in the dishwasher? do you use vinegar to rinse? mine is getting installed next weel woo hoo! but not looking forward to paying for the tablets..............

    for an all purpose cleaner i use bicarb, vinegar and tea tree oil in a pre mixed bottle. You cant use it in a spray though, just doesnt work (put more bicarb than you should and each time you use it/shake it up just add a little more vinegar to get the fizzy cleaner effect happening).

    i think you are doing really well, and dou dou is onto something there with quilton - if you buy the bulk packs the nice quilton toilet paper actually turns out cheaper per roll (adding in the extra ply, thereofre you take less off the roll).............

    bulk - i just bought 12 of te lip balm that i use, why? a 12 pack ends up being the same as the price of 9 when you buy the in single packs. all these little things add up, but sometimes we have to go without something one week in order to get the better bulk price on something else.

  18. #18

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    christy, you cn use soap nuts in the dishwasher? do you use vinegar to rinse? mine is getting installed next weel woo hoo! but not looking forward to paying for the tablets..............
    You can! My box I buy at the markets comes with little calico bags that you put the nuts (2-3) into and then into the dishwasher. Then I put 1 tbsp vinegar in the rinse.

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