Keeping the grocery spend down

Every Tuesday for the last couple of years I have posted my weekly grocery shop on my Instagram and Facebook accounts and it is the themed post that get the most requests every year.

I also get a lot of people that will look at one post I do a week and wonder how I keep it so low. I thought it would be about time that I did a grocery blog to capture the big picture of how I keep my costs down.

I do have to laugh because honestly, I was never a cook. My staple diet consisted of takeaway meals for most of the time I was running my business (probably contributed to all the debt actually). I remember buying $150 worth of groceries a week and throwing most of it away. And that was for one person!

I really did do a lot of research to get my grocery bill down – and a LOT of experimenting with foods and recipes. I always tried to aim for $40/week or less during my debt free journey (just because I like going to the extreme). But now I am a bit more relaxed with the grocery budget and allow myself a bit more flexibility. I am also cooking for one – so naturally the bill will go up if there are more of you. Even more so if you have kids too.

There are some of the key ways I have learnt to keep that grocery bill down:

  1. Meal plan.

The absolute most important part of my grocery spend is to meal plan, seems really simple (because it is). But it is a key part of my grocery shop. I start by having a look in the freezer first and figuring out what meat and veggies I have available. I also do a lot of googling to find recipes that suit my ingredients as opposed to just buying extra stuff to make a meal.

  1. Shop to the specials.

Once I have figured out what I need I will jump online and have a look at the supermarket websites to see what the specials are this week. It also pays to have a look at Facebook pages of the local fruit and veggie shops and butcheries. There have been times when I have worked out it is cheaper to change the meal I was going to make simply because the ingredients I had were on special.

  1. Buy in bulk, cook in bulk and store it well.

I will always keep an eye on specials and deals I can get on some of the items I use frequently for cooking. For example, potatoes and kumara, pastas, rice, flour etc. I also utilize all of my survey websites to try and buy these things in bulk with my points (and therefore reducing my grocery spend). I then also cook in bulk – 5 or 6 meals at a time. This means I can freeze some for a later date. I am fortunate enough to have invested in a large deep freeze. Just make sure you are rotating through the frozen goods, don’t want to end up with freezer burn.

  1. No wastage.

Did you know that New Zealand households throw away 157,389 tonnes of food every single year? Crazy! Imagine what that would be in $$! I make sure I find ways to store food, or freeze food or repurpose food to make sure nothing gets wasted. Ever had some veggies that are coming to the end of life in the fridge? Simply chop them up and freeze them or put them in a stir fry! Try to make sure your meals and snacks are planned around the fresh food you have to make sure nothing gets wasted

These are my 4 main tips to getting started with a smaller grocery bill – and it does take some practice so be kind to yourself as you go. It’s a big ask to go from $150-$40 in one go!

The last piece of advice I will give is to make sure you include your treats in your spend. We all like to believe we are going to cut out the rubbish food and that we don’t need the chocolate, but trust me… you will need it. Yes sacrifices need to be made but please don’t deprive yourself of the luxuries. I can guarantee that will be how you end up spending too much.