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Shopping on a budget

April 20, 2016

With one thing and another over the past year, we’ve ended up on a pretty tight grocery budget. Many people I speak to can’t believe we feed two adults and five children (13, 10, 9, 8 & 7) on $120-$150/week, even if the children are not with us 100% of the time. My three kids are with us about 60% of the time, and M’s two kids are with us about 30% of the time. Miss 13 is a vegan now, Mr 10, Miss 9 & Miss 7 eat like horses (but are fussy) and Miss 8 eats like a sparrow (and is even fussier).

Well, last week we actually did the week’s food shopping for $59.65. We didn’t need meat, as the freezer was full of markdowns from previous weeks. By the end of the week, we won’t have much meat left and will need to buy more, but I still expect next week’s shop to fit within the $150 budget easily. I don’t pay more than $10/kg for meat unless it’s a very special occasion, and 90% of the meat we buy is marked-down (buy on marked date and freeze – never had a problem).

Some of the bargains we got last week included:

  • bag of 5 zucchinis for $1
  • bag of 5 capsicums for $1
  • 1.5kg bananas at 99c/kg
  • 1.5kg ripe bananas at 49c/kg
  • 2kg apples at 99c/kg
  • 2kg potatoes for 99c
  • 500g shredded cheese $3.99
  • sliced bread 99c x2
  • pack 6 rolls $1.69

On Monday I made butter chicken (2 adult dinners and 2 adult lunches) with 1 chicken breast, a meal kit that had been reduced to $1.50 in Coles weeks ago, and cream that I’d bought marked down and frozen a few weeks ago. Cooked frozen peas and corn kernels with the rice. I also made a large zucchini slice which I still have most of, to use for work lunches using 2 of the zucchini, six eggs from 18 I’d bought marked down last week (still in date). I used another 6 eggs and some lemons I was given by a friend to make a lemon slice. Bananas in the freezer for smoothies and ‘ice cream’ desserts. Baked nut & seed granola bars from a packet mix marked down to $1 a few weeks ago (made these vegan for Miss 13). This will keep the kids in snacks for the week given they’re on school holidays, along with the fruit of course. We still had oranges and watermelon from last week. Tuesday’s dinner was pork meatballs (pork mince marked down 50% after Easter and frozen, carrot, onion, celery & homemade breadcrumbs made from the crusts of bread), pasta and sauce made from tomatoes that needed using & 1 of the capsicums. Tonight we had a big barbecue – lamb koftas, peri-peri chicken skewers, sausages – all marked down, approximately $9 in meat for 6 of us, plus potato, sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower.

THIS is how I feed all of us on this shopping budget. We eat plenty and often fit in treats, they’re just half-price treats. I snap up markdowns when I see them, freeze or cook that day or the next, and always have an inventory in my head of what’s in the freezer/fridge while I’m shopping. I have my favourite brands but I buy them when they come on half-price specials. Knowing the catalogue cycles, I rarely pay full price for items like toiletries.

Except coffee. $50/month on freshly roasted coffee beans for home and freshly-ground filter-roasted coffee for my Aeropress at work. Priorities! Fits in the $600/month grocery budget 😉

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