Saturday, March 16, 2013

Size doesn't always much is your grocery budget?

With everyone struggling with their budget these days, one of the things I get asked about sometimes is my grocery budget. Most people aren't sure whether they are spending big on small in this area in comparison to others, they only know how they are spending according to their own habits.

So I thought I'd share in order to provide a bit of a benchmark. I KNOW I have lots of room to reduce how much I spend still, despite my best efforts there is still an element of laziness or unplanned luxury items that affects the outcomes.

My budget (and I do stick to it but feel it could be less) is $300 per fortnight. I have a family of 5, including a 12 year who never stops eating anymore, a 7 month old going through a tin of formula weekly, and a 23 month old who is still in nappies (like the 7 month old obviously). So my $300 budget includes 2 jumbo boxes of nappies, a jumbo wipes, and x2 tins of formula, which would be anywhere between $80-90 depending on sale prices that fortnight.

I know of a lot of people spending much much more than $300 per fortnight on similar sized families, or proportionately much more on different sized families. So I know my budget is pretty tight, but I also know by the expensive Jarlsberg cheese I manage to sneak into the trolley still, and the HUGE amount that gets spent on prepackaged snacks for school, work and outings that I could reduce more. Definitely an opportunity for me this year!

One of the things I do to keep my budget low is meal plan each fortnight AFTER I get the catalogues the mail. I keep an eye out for particularly cheap ingredients - meats especially - and I make sure that meat plays a huge part in that fortnight's plan. I also make sure that those are the meals being made in bulk to freeze for another night, whereas a more expensive meat, or one that isn't on sale I would only cook 1 nights serving of it.

It might not seem so obvious in Australia where so many of our fruits and veggies are available year round, but there is a big price difference when your produce is in season vs when it isn't. So I try to shift our produce needs according to the time of year too so I never pay the top prices. Particularly for fruit - apples and bananas - since just buying a different variety can make a difference.

I am lucky enough to save 5% on my Coles ad Woolies vouchers if I buy them through a work scheme so that also shaves about another $15 off that end cost each fortnight. My $300 budget includes x1 BIG shop each fortnight, a smaller fresh food topup midway through the fortnight, and periodical topups of milk and bread throughout the whole fortnight. It does not include petrol though - no way!

Help me benchmark whether I am on track for getting my budget down. Share your budget and best tips with me!

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