How To Halve Your Grocery Bill | News.com.au Interview

Ever have a serious “oh shit” moment?

I had one today while enjoying my besties daughters third birthday.  One of the Mamas from a Facebook group shared a fresh article from News.com.au asking if it was me and if I knew about it!

Oh shit.

All of a sudden I had an embarassing flash back to that time I was hit up to share how we save so much money on our monthly food shop.  I wrote an essay of an email with all my tips and tricks, clicked send, and totally forgot about it.

Next thing I know, it’s being shared around Facebook and has been viewed over 2000 times when Mum last checked (typical proud Mum thing to do)!  Apparently people are interested in what I have to say and have been heading here to read more about us.

So if that’s not the rocket up my ass I needed to keep writting and sharing, then I don’t know what would be.  From now on, I promise to ignore the voices in my head that say “no one’s interested Caity”, “people think you’re weird for living in a shed” or “why is your knowledge worth sharing?”  Screw you internal doubts, I’m going for it.

Read The Full Article Below Or Click Here.

 

IF YOU want to have your smashed avo and your, ahem, soy turmeric latte too — listen up.

Forget worrying about what your fancy Saturday post-pilates brunch is doing to your house deposit.

39% of the Australian weekly wage is spent in the supermarket. That’s a huge chunk of your take-home pay each month. So, sure, $19 for half an avocado smooshed onto two pieces of rye is offensive, but not monetarily life changing when it comes to your budget. Skipping coffees won’t earn you a house deposit. But downsizing your grocery bill will.

And when it comes to changing your weekly spend, consciously deciding to halve your grocery bill is tough, but doable.

One year ago, Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris moved to the country to start a new life — and soon had a baby. With the shift to one wage, Caity began to make changes to the family’s food and grocery bill in an effort to thin out their already tight budget.

For starters, their grocery bill had to shrink — from $500 to $250 per month.

Caity is serious about grocery spending. She now plans all of the family’s meals in advance each fortnight.

She shops at growers markets before heading to the supermarket to see what’s cheap — and hasn’t purchased pre-prepared meal bases or sauces since she moved to the country.

Sticking to a strict shopping list and growing her own herbs and some vegetables has also saved her plenty of money each month, as well as not just buying in season, but buying big when something is on sale.

“A couple of months ago red capsicum was crazy cheap so I bought a heap of it, sliced it up and put it in the freezer. I do this a lot with produce when it’s cheap and in season. My freezer currently has celery, blueberries, strawberries, and capsicum in it,” she told news.com.au.

Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Picture: Tyra Gunnis

Caity Fitzgerald and her husband Chris on their wedding day. Picture: Tyra GunnisSource:Supplied

And Caity also says with a pantry that’s always well stocked with the basics, rather than having to shop for every item when you decide on a particular recipe, it’s much easier to cook a basic meal — without needing to buy anything at all.

So, do frugal supermarket choices mean more available budget for chai lattes and embarrassingly expensive breakfasts for Caity and her family?

“I’m a self confessed tight ass so for me, buying the infamous avo smash kills my soul when I could buy enough avos for the month for the price of one breakfast,” Caity says.

“But coffee is life with a baby, a house, a business and a farm so no expense is spared for our regular coffee dates! Changing our shopping and eating habits has made a huge different to our household budget. It’s been the difference between our son going to childcare and me going back to work. This was the one area we could really cut costs without feeling like we’re missing out.”

Caity and Chris now live in on a beautiful property in the country.

Caity and Chris now live in on a beautiful property in the country.Source:Supplied

CAITY’S EASY TIPS TO HALVE YOUR GROCERY BILL

Stop buying the junk food, the soft drink, the chips, lollies, expensive cuts of meat, pre prepared sauces, brand name everything. We buy a lot of home brand and honestly, I don’t feel like there’s a huge difference on staple ingredients.

Shop at your local growers market. Not only are you able to afford organic and spray free — yes, there is a difference — but you’re supporting the small guys. Start at the markets THEN do your supermarket shop.

Plan your meals. Put a little time into it, involve the family so they get a say and are more excited for the meals ahead.

Cook humble meals. Honestly, simple for us is best. Our all time favourite dinner is a creamy mushroom and onion spaghetti carbonara with fresh basil and some nice crunchy bread.

Think of the environment. When you become more aware of the waste you’re creating and the products you’re buying, you naturally reduce your costs. At the end of the day, if it’s bad for the planet, it’s generally bad for your budget.

To read Caity’s blog about moving to the country and saving money visit createyourfatecollective.com.au

How We Eat Like Kings On A Single Income

I seem to spend a lot of time in my various Facebook groups sharing my tips on how we eat really great meals on a single income.  With daily living expenses rising and more families finding it hard to manage, it’s the question on the tip of many Mama’s tongues and it’s one that’s taken us a long time to perfect.

For us, it all started when we moved here.  For the first month we had no fridge – just an esky and a bookshelf for a pantry that needed to sustain us through the hard labour of setting up the property and me entering my second trimsester with Cypress.  We were sinking all of our money into the property and buying a family car so I had to get pretty creative with our groccery spending.

We started by only eating meat half the fortnight – mainly because storing fresh meat, living an hour from the shops, and both working fulltime made it very tricky to manage fresh meat with no fridge.  After having Cypress, we then decided to eliminate almost all meat from our diet, allowing ourselves the salty oily goodness that is bacon.  Naughty, I know – but it’s bacon!

Our current eating habits aren’t as perfect as we would like them to be.  At the moment, we’re not eating orgaincally and are only growing a small portion of our produce.  As Cypress grows and we’re able to have more spare time outside, we plan on growing all of our fresh produce.  Until then, we’re doing the best we can with what we have.

Get Organised In The Kitchen

How are you going to plan healthy, budget friendly meals if you have no idea what you already have on hand?  Getting your pantry, fridge and freezer organised is crucial to keeping your shopping costs low.  I use a Kitchen Inventory list to keep track of what I have and what I need to top up on.  As something runs out, I mark it on the list and when it comes time for groccery shopping, half my work is done for me.

Organising my food seems a little over the top but for me and my family, it just works.

Tips for keeping the pantry under control:

  • Store flour, pasta, grains, sugars etc. in clear containers.  I use our old coffee jars so I can see how much I have at a glance.  Everything is clearly labelled and kept in neat order.
  • Spices are kept in clear containers next to the stove top, again these are clearly labelled.
  • Tins and cans are stacked neatly two deep again, so I know at a glance what I have.
  • Everything else is organised into containers that I can pull out easily. 
  • Left over ingredients from larger packets are transfered into zip-lock bags or containers and clearly labelled.

How I keep the fridge neat and tidy:

  • On the top shelf we have drinks – water bottles, soft drinks, beer, juice etc.
  • The second shelf is for left overs, snacks and lunch ingredients.
  • Chris has a lunch box on the second shelf.  He makes his lunch ahead of time and I got sick of it being crammed in everywhere.
  • The third shelf is for fresh produce or prepped food for dinners. 
  • Everything on the shelves goes into a click lock container with a post-it note label on the front.  When the container’s empty, I pull off the label, give it a wash and chuck it in the cupboard.
  • Our small vegetable drawer is for fuit and the larger bottom vegetable crisper is for our veggies.
  • The door has a home for eggs, cheese, jarred cooking ingredients, spreads and condements.

Tackling an over-flowing freezer:

  • The top small drawer is for prepped baby food.  I use silicone ice cube trays to freeze the puree into shape, then transfer it into ziplock bags and label it.  When a bag is empty, I make more and top it up.
  • The second draw is for frozen fruit and vegetables.  I buy up when something is on special, chop it up and freeze it.  I also buy corn, peas, beans, broccoli and cauliflower frozen because we never seen to eat it quick enough.
  • The bottom draw is for bread, pastry and frozen meals.  Again with the ziplock bags, I put everything in them – including soup.  I lay everything flat until it’s frozen, then stand it up to take up minimal space.

Plan Your Meals

Not everyone is as excited by a well executed list as I am.  But this is my key to keeping our food bills as small as possible.  Each fortnight, Chris and I sit down to brainstorm our meal choices for the fortnight.  We try to keep a balance between rice, pasta, vegetable based meals and will often flick through my collection of cookbooks to get some inspo.

I’ve created my own print out with our meals on one side, and my shopping list on the other side.  So many times I add something to the shopping list and have no idea what I’m buying it for.  It also makes life easier having it all on one sheet.  It also has quick tick-and-flicks for our staple supplies that I seem to need each fortnight.

Once we’ve worked out what we want to eat, I check the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what I have and write down what I need to make the meals on the list.

When the house is stocked with our grocceries, I use post-its to plan out our Weekly Menu which includes food for Cypress.  This lets me be prepared and make the most of fresh ingredients or left-overs.

Stick To A Shopping List

This is the very most important part of my whole process and I’m very particular about how it’s done.  For starters, I DO NOT take my husband the man child with me.  He will try and shove every bullshit thing in the trolley that we just don’t need and then I feel like a bitch for saying no to him for an entire hour.  The actual child on the other hand is always welcome as long as he’s fed, full and healthy.

My shopping list goes in order of our supermarket so I’m able to whip around super quick, throwing in everything on my list and I’m usually in and out within the hour.  I avoid those aisles that have nothing but crap in them and I ignore everything that catches my eye that isn’t on my list.

Sometimes I’ll need to substitute if something is unavailable but for the most part, I stick to my guns.

Embrace Scratch Style Cooking

The last one sounds harder than it is and sounds sketchy.  When I started looking into heamsteading and budget meal planning, the term of “scratch cooking” kept popping up.  The theory is to buy base ingredients and cook as much from scratch as you can.  It’s ofcourse much easier to do when you’re a stay at home Mama and you love to be in the kitchen but it really does save us a bunch on money.  For example, if I need a tomato spaghetti sauce, I’ll get a large jar of Passata and add all my own flavour to enhance it.  If we have pizza, I make the bases with flour, water, oil and herbs.  I buy individual ingredients over getting packet mixes and jar sauces which makes way more quantity and variety of meal bases.