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thread: Need ideas - how to reduce grocery bill

  1. #19
    Registered User

    Sep 2007
    Off with the fairies
    470

    Things that work for me are, doing cupboard/ fridge challenges for a week every month or so, this is where I don't buy any thing unless urgent and simply use only the thing in the house, it is quite challenging but fun as you get creative. This has lead to some family favorites being created.

    I am lucky enough to live on 6 acres so I am able to grow alot of our staple foods like potatoes, pumpkins, peas, carrots, the list goes on so this cuts down heaps on the fuel costs and fruit and veg. costs. As Bath said taking the time to collect seeds keeps costs down to a minimum.

    I am also fortunate to have great family, friends and neigbours who all share there excess foods amunst each other, for example my SIL keeps chooks and I get my eggs from her, I harvested quite a few kg of spuds recently and shared some with her, this happens all year round and I find that we eat mostly thing that are in season. I know not everyone can do this but it may trigger you to think about other ways of "shopping." Along the same lines, friends of mine in Brissy go shopping at the bulk outlets and save by dividing up the tins, loo paper etc amongst themselves. This seems a bit more involved but works for them.

    I also clean using vinegar bi- carb, tea tree oil eucalyptus oil and lavender oil I mostly only buy powder for the dishwasher and liquid for the clothes, I have some bottles of cleaning chemicals still in the cupboards that I bought from my old place 3 years ago.

    I look forward to following this thread to see what other great ideas are out there.


  2. #20
    Registered User

    Aug 2006
    3,562

    OK, so sounds like cutting out cleaning products and using alternatives is one thing I could do. I have all of that stuff here now so I might give it a go this week.

    Also baking is something I could really do.

    Bath - part of my problem with baking is exactly as you said; I'll find a recipe but then only have half the stuff i need in the cupboard and I am not one to go to the shops and spend more money mid fortnight. So what are the basic staples you would suggest I have in the cupboard? I usually have plain flour, sr flour, brown sugar, cocoa, icing mixture, bi carb soda and at least sultanas if not other dried fruit. I was also buying butter (we usually use marg) and cream for a while but haven't recently. What else would you suggest?

  3. #21
    Registered User
    Add Kazbah on Facebook Follow Kazbah On Twitter

    Sep 2006
    Dandy Ranges ;)
    7,526

    With the menu planning, I also write out a list of "thaw" "prepare" etc for the next day. stuff like lunches. I'll use leftover rice and cook up some frozen veg and add in some soy sauce for tomorrow's lunch.

    Freezing stuff is handy - if you can, get a chest freezer. Leftover fruit to make sorbet (so much easier & healthier than icecream!) along with leftover white wine.

    Any juices etc going out of date, I freeze in an icecube tray for cooking later, also I use flat fizzy drinks for home-made iceblocks during summer.

    Salad plants in polystyrene boxes on the windowsill etc. for fresh salad most of the year.

    Windows, if you're using vinegar, always wipe with a water-damp cloth to stop the vinegar eating the glass. I use tealeaves for cleaning windows & showerscreens and they come up a treat.

    Also keep in mind that each person's serve of meat need only be 90g - a single lamb backstrap does us here for 2 meals (2 adults, one toddler) and that saves $$$ considerablly.

  4. #22
    Registered User

    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!
    11,129

    I have found Woollies (where I used to shop) to be getting more and more expensive, whereas the independent chain that's locally owned and "used" to be dearer now seems to be giving far better deals. It annoys me no end that all the Woollies "specials" these days involve buying multiples. Needless to say I am now shopping elsewhere.

    One of the things I find works for saving $$$ is to deliberately plan a couple of "slummy" dinners - this might mean Sunday night is toasted sandwiches or a pot of soup. Also planning a couple of dinners a week around cheap ingredients like rice, tuna and whatever veggie is on special that week.

    Also using small quantities of more expensive deli ingredients (like olives, fresh herbs, crisped bacon strips, marinated veggies) can really add flavour and interest but are relatively cheap. Ie a homemade pizza done with chunky roasted veg, herbs and a few strips of really good quality prosciutto is cheaper (and nicer) than one done loaded up with ham, grated cheese, etc.

    My latest strategy is only to buy fruit & veg for the next couple of days or so. It means that you shop 2-3 times a week - and can really concentrate on buying the seasonal specials. It has really cut down on wastage in our house as we are forced to use what's there instead of always having the oversupply we get when I try to shop for the whole week at once.

  5. #23
    Moderator

    Oct 2004
    In my Zombie proof fortress.
    6,449

    Also keep in mind that each person's serve of meat need only be 90g - a single lamb backstrap does us here for 2 meals (2 adults, one toddler) and that saves $$$ considerablly.
    I think DH would leave me if I only served 90g of meat and to be honest I would leave me as well if I did that!

  6. #24
    Registered User

    Mar 2004
    1,547

    Willow - I keep all the baking staples you mentioned, but also usually have at least 1 stick of butter in the fridge (I prefer to use butter instead of marg in baking, even though they are mostly interchangeable), eggs of course, some desicated coconut, white sugar, vanilla essence, honey/golden syrup and spices like cinnamon, mixed spice and ground ginger. I only buy generic brands. Most baking recipes call for caster sugar, but I just buy white now because its more 'all purpose' than caster and works fine. With these staples you will be able to bake pretty much any basic biscuit, cake or slice recipe, plus batters like pancakes, pikelets and fritters.

  7. #25
    Registered User

    Jul 2007
    in a super happy place!
    1,008

    Willow - I do kind of what Pretty Butterfly does for the shower but I use a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar, 1 part Metholayted Spirits, and 2 parts water. It is amazing how clean it gets the shower glass. I got the idea out of the Spotless book.

    * Actually not Spotless, their other one How to be Comfy. Heaps of great tips for cleaning using things commonly found in the home. I think the book was about $20 but you can generally get it cheaper in Target,Big W etc. The inital outlay would be worth the saving on cleaning products I think.

  8. #26
    Registered User

    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW
    6,975

    Willow: Pantry Basics: It's up to your preferences but a good database has been written by British chef Delia Smith. I'll see if I can find it online... it's in her first "How To Cook" book. She has a great website. I have three shelves of airtight glass Maccona coffee jars (I use these because I can't afford paying for a comprehensive storage system... and I think that even when I can i'll stick to it!) which constitute the largest part of my pantry "basics". I have lots of herbs and spices because I like using them and with good rotation can last a relatively long time. They are stored in the smallest sized Maccona jars. I find that if you have a good spice collection you can then go on to use your other staples creatively. Spices are needed for baking sweet and savory dishes. Curries all need a range of spices as do cakes and biscuits. I'd collect them all pretty much.

    Have at least 3 types of rice: A thin rice like Basmati, a "standard" multi-use one, and a glutinous one for Rissottos... learn to make rissotto... VERY cheap per serve but you can also make it special by adding more expensive ingredients when you can afford it.

    Ok... off to find the more comprehensive pantry staples list!
    Last edited by Bathsheba; March 14th, 2009 at 01:54 PM.

  9. #27
    Registered User

    Nov 2006
    Somewhere Over The Rainbow
    3,094

    bath I use the same jars!! they are great for rice, flour etc etc............. we used to know someone who worked at the factory so my mum scored about 50.

    another money saver - dont pay for postage for on line orders. there are a few places that we shop from - and if you spend a certain amount you get free postage. So wait till you need that $$ amount worth of stuff and order then.

  10. #28
    Registered User

    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW
    6,975

    Yep, Maccona coffee jars are ace!!! They are really airtight and the seal lasts and lasts... i've been collecting mine since 1992 when I first moved to melbourne... when I was single and only needed to buy the smallest sized jar. I added a gallery link to them in my previous post LOL I'm a tad obsessed

  11. #29
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    Sep 2006
    Dandy Ranges ;)
    7,526

    Nice jars Bath Very organised!

  12. #30
    Registered User

    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW
    6,975

    LOL ta Kaz. Just had to add to say that the biggest jar in that photo isn't a Macconna jar... it was store bought because I needed a huge jar to hold my plain flour and Macconna don't make them that big... it can fit about 3kg I think. Also i wish I could get more of those labels... they suit my retro kitchen... I need to label some more obscure things like Goji Berries.

  13. #31
    Registered User

    Nov 2005
    in a house!
    6,125

    I think you are doing well Willow! BUt good ideas in here to try as well

    Bath, could you make your own labels? You can buy the sheets of ready made stickers, then in Microsoft Word or equivalent, you can set the margins to be exactly the same size. Then you can type whatever you like and print yourself. Very cheap

  14. #32
    Moderator

    Oct 2004
    In my Zombie proof fortress.
    6,449

    I only got back into baking recently. What I found helped with having the right ingredients was to pick one basic recipe (eg Anzac biscuits), check the cupboard and then write the missing or low items on the shopping list. The next week I looked up a couple of more basic/everyday recipes and added those ingredients to the shopping list. Doing this I also realised that I did not have all the right tins and trays so I have started picking up one of those every week or two as well. At the moment I work from a Womens Weekly Old fashioned favourites book and a high school cooking book. Good basic recipes, often with variations listed as well.

    Bath is right, have all the spices you can. Often I found that was why I could not complete a recipe.

  15. #33
    Registered User

    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW
    6,975

    Mabello: yep, technically I could (and have in the past) made my own canister labels but the current set i have is just so perfect and on glossy water resistant sticker paper... they can even handle going through the dishwasher... this is an important thing for me. This set is pretty comprehensive... it has sago, gelatine, semolina etc etc you don't often get on pre-made labels... plus they included a sheet of plain (has the blue border but no text) labels but I haven't used them because I'm so obsessive/anal that I can't bear to not match the font.

  16. #34
    DoubleK Guest

    after reading this thread.. i have been convinced to try cleaning without chemicals!!!

  17. #35
    Registered User

    Nov 2005
    in a house!
    6,125

    Bath, have you seen the Tupperware labels? I remember someone telling me they are comprehensive too

  18. #36
    Registered User

    Jul 2007
    Melbourne
    867

    I don't usually buy "no name" or home brand stuff as I've always thought it was poor quality. But lately I've relaxed that way of thinking a bit!
    How about if everyone posts to let each other know what 'no name' products they buy that are equally as good as the popular brand labels?
    I bought home brand paper towels the other day and they are great!

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