Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Budget to Spend Less on Groceries

On Monday, I began talking about just how much our grocery bill was costing us during a month! It seems absurd that groceries can take up to 80% of my income....but that is the reality of it! And it is a very scary reality in deed.  For a lot of families out there, what we were eating wasn’t that fancy. The amount we were spending at the shop wasn’t that much. And our portions were pretty good! {Okay...I agree a little with the portions thing...we aren’t gorging ourselves over here!}

finances, budget, money, shopping, cards

For us though, it just isn’t working. We don’t eat steak....the closet we get to steak is tenderized steaks! We eat a LOT of chicken, mince and a lot of eggs. And to budget down when I include the costs for nappies, formula, cleaning and bathing items in our has been stressful.

However, it is necessary for this to stop! So, Hubby and I talked and decided to get serious. We started cutting out the unnecessary items. We started planning better. I started price checking!

1)   Cut out the unnecessary items!

To begin with, we have dropped meat twice a week! In its place we are substituting eggs, beans and other high protein items! This was actually the easiest decision and surprisingly Hubby doesn’t mind at all! For the first time ever, I cooked with lentils on Monday! I can’t wait to share with you the amazing Lentil Shepherds Pie I made and how yummy it was! You can find some awesome budget friendly vegetarian recipes by clicking on that little Linky! Or alternatively, you can look at All You for some delicious and easy recipes! I’ve really enjoyed getting creative with these!

A few other items we’ve cut:

Coffee...not all together! We drink A LOT of coffee though (6-7 cups/day at home/person [plus what we drink at work!]) and it is EXTREMELY expensive for us. We have cut ourselves to one cup in the morning and one at night! Instead, we are drinking tea! Price difference: R20!
Cream....I love fresh cream! I use it in pastas, desserts, potato bakes....anything I can get an excuse to put it in. But it costs us R35 per month! And then I only use it 3 times! For R35 I can make 3 complete dinners! more cream!
Rusks, cookies and biscuits....we love these little treats. It’s a quick and easy breakfast or a simple sugary fix. But you know what....for the same price I can buy a box of rusks which is about 20 of them....I can make 100 homemade!
Premade sauces....Hubby loves my homemade pasta sauces. He actually requests it. But I like to do things easy in the week considering my work hours....and therefore have been spending over R100 each month on premade sauces. I get around 13 of them. I use them in pastas, soups, gravies, bakes....etc. However, by getting the basic ingredients and spices...I can make them homemade for less than R2 each! Compare that to R7.50!

{Are you still stuck on the coffee part...don’t worry it will take some adjustments for us to! ;-)}

That is just an example. The point is we started evaluating what is truly necessary to our daily nutrition and what isn’t! I'll go into more detail about all we've cut out, why, and how another day!

2)   Set a budget and stick to it

I took our staple items (rice, oil, milk, potatoes, onion, jelly, yogurt, etc.) and added it up first. I then split it for the 4 weeks of the month and subtracted it from the total I’m allowed to spend for the month. In the grocery category, I’ve given myself R1500. Once the staples were divided up and subtracted, I was left with around R200 to spend a week. With this R200 I needed to get the rest of the supplies I needed for our meals.

I don’t pull money from other areas either. Our budget is R1500 on groceries and meat and all food items. R300 on cleaning/household supplies. R1200 on nappies, kids toiletries and our toiletries. And finally R500 on LJ’s needs (formula, purity foods...for extremely busy nights, and cereal/juice). If we save in one of those categories....SCORE...but that doesn't increase the budget in another. If I save R200 in the bath/nappies...then I've saved it. It DOES NOT make my grocery budget R1700!

This may seem a little different for you being in America but let me try to shine some perspective on it. A kg (2.2 lbs) of ground beef costs R60. That same R60 could buy us a box of milk, 6 ℓ (1.32 gallons). Or R60 could cover a case of eggs (48 eggs). Or R60 could purchase my washing powder for the month. Or....R60 would get you approximately 4 ℓ (1.056 gallons) of gas! cost is expensive! A kg of ground beef is meat for four meals for us. A box of milk is milk for 1 week if we are very strict with it. And on average we use at least two cases of eggs a month!

So...a budget. Do it...stick to it...and make it work!

          3) Plan your menus!

The next decision was to try and create dinners that fit within our budget that would provide us with lunch the next day at least 3 days a week. This got a little complicated.

I’ve never in my life menu planned like this! I normally decided that morning or maybe a day in advance what I wanted to make and then figure out what I still needed from the store.

Can you see my costs going up by the minute on this little doosey? Luckily a few pastas, some mince bakes, etc. and we have managed it. That means that now I only need to create lunch 3 days a week instead of 6!

So, I created a calendar and started with the first week of the month. I started with dinner. For breakfast, we usually eat a toasted slice of bread and hard boiled egg, homemade oats (which fell under monthly costs) or pap (also monthly costs). I pick up a couple of boxes of cereal as well. So breakfast is typically covered unless I wish to make something for a special occasion.

menu planning, calendar, weekly meal plans, budget meal planner

Therefore, dinners; I wrote down a list of all the dinners I already know how to prepare from the top of my head. Then I worked out how much those dinners cost us, outside of the already monthly costs I’ve calculated.  I will go more into this on a later post.

I further then wrote down which days we would pull lunch from the leftovers and quickly created a simple menu plan!

4)   Price check

Lastly, I price check. I have a Clicks (like Walgreens) and two grocery stores within sight distance of each other. Literally...they can share a parking lot. So to store hop doesn’t cost on petrol (gas). Then the other grocery store (my main pick) is on the way home from those ones. So I check prices and the stores and I hit the sales. If I can save on something somewhere, I grab it there. Even if it is R20....those small amounts add up!

Even with a car....the total calculated cost of driving between the shops I go to is less than .5% of what I save!

In America, you have the option to use coupons! I’m not saying you need to go extreme couponing (though I LOVE that show and am thankful to those who do it because it provides me with much needed entertainment!). However, utilize what is available. It can take as little as 30 minutes a week to grab the local papers a clip a few coupons or go online and print them.

I’ll talk more next week about each topic and get into even more detail about how we use each step and how you can make it work for your life too!

Remember, this is coming from a mom of two boys under three years old with a 10 hour a day job! If I can manage this, so can you! I’m hoping you see it and find the inspiration!

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Shana Danae..


  1. This is such a huge thing for me with 5 of us in the house! I also meal plan and then buy only those ingredients. I buy whatever is on special and use mainly PnP because I get points back and they do help! We also cut the luxuries - I bake a lot instead of buying biscuits/cake etc. But I never make it each month - I always end up needing more money :(

  2. It is really difficult! Like I said especially here because our living cost is so high! I mean Nappies for both boys easily costs me between 800-900 a month depending on sales! Maybe we can swap tricks tips and recipes! I also use pick n pay as my main store for my points but buy what is cheaper at shoprite!

  3. Great tips! I am always looking at new ways to save money on our grocery bill!

    Doing a giveaway, would love for you to check it out!

  4. I'm glad they could help you! Stick around...I'm going to break each one down a little bit further and through in some cheap and easy recipes to help too!




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