Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grocery Shopping Mummy Hearts Money Style

My grocery budget is $260 per fortnight. With that money I am feeding a 5 person family, including 1 baby in full time nappies, and a toddler in night time nappies. I know many families the same size or smaller spending much, much, more, but I also know of families doing an even better job with their budget than me. I don't have the luxury of time on my hands to shop at smaller greengrocers, deli's, and butchers anymore, so almost 100% of my shop is done at one of the majors, who are conveniently open at 10pm. I do a handful of smaller shops throughout the fortnight to top up on Milk, sandwich meat, and fruit, all included in my initial budget. It's a fairly flat budget, as if I am way under for the fortnight, I will use the spare money to stock up on oher essentials like toiletries, cleaning products, tinned products, and hygiene products. It's pretty rare we run out of those things.

Here are my top tips for working the shopping trolley:

Shop alone, or with the most helpful person in your house. I NEVER shop with Husband, who gets to the shops so rarely that new products always catch his eye and make it into the basket. Instead I take Madeleine, who is old enough to nip between the aisles in search of items for me.

Discard all Brand loyalty. If it isn't delivering the most cost efficient, quality output, it's not the right brand. There will be a different promotion every week, and your allegiance needs to shift to the lowest unit price. Know what doesn't suit your family though, and don't buy it again regardless of price.

When it's awesome, buy 10. Anytime a product I enjoy is half price, I will stock up with 10 of them (provided they are a essential consumable, and not a luxury item). I love my Moccona coffee, but always make do with cheaper stuff until Moccona goes on sale again and I can stock up.

Ask for a Rain Check. If that awesome sale item has an empty shelf, ask for a rain check at the service desk. Sometimes I go back on the last day of the catalogue because I know the shelf will be empty and I can get a rain check. This is great if it's something outside my budget today that I will want in a month. This is an especially awesome trick when it's bulk nappies on sale. Laundry detergent or dish washing tablets is another good one that can kill a shopping budget if I wasn't planning for it, but the rain check gives me time to factor it into the budget.

Generics Rock. Tried something 2 years ago and thought it sucked? It probably did. Try it again anyway. Never say no indefinitely to a generic for anything, they are always improving the products. Hygiene products, tinned foods, frozen foods, there are some gems everywhere, and in many cases the generic is my favourite option (Woolies cheese, or Aldi's nuggets anyone?). My cart tends to be 50/50 these days, as the brand labels are often cheaper thanks to sales and promotions. And don't kid youself, alot of the time the same product is repackaged for another company. Check out the 2 tins of tomato's top right. Look familiar?

Shop in the clearance sections. We know where the half metre clearance shelf is in the fridge section, bakery, as well as the location of the clearance trolley. These babies are goldmines! Dairy with only a few days left, beauty! Potato Bake tonight! Pizza bases running out of time, tonight's dinner is served. I often grab pantyhose with ripped packaging, or cleaning and bathroom products with damaged boxes at less than half the original price.

It's all in the list. Write a meal plan using the items already in your cupboards, then follow through with meals based on items on special, then make it up after that. Once you have a locked down meal plan, you can make a list of missing items. Try to stock up on specials and use them heavily in meals over the coming weeks.

Give yourself an impulse budget. Impulse purchases are what drag everyone down and I'm no exception. It's the clearance items that get me, so I have a $20 allowance that I can spend on specials or clearance items. Once that $20 has run out, then the items have to wait for another shop. The clearance items end up saving us money in the short and long term, but I never go overboard buying more than we need thanks to the $20 fail safe.

Check your prices. If you nailed down your shopping list and kept track as you shopped, you should be pretty on top by the time you get to the register. Check prices at the scanner or on the receipt before you leave the store. Have any discrepancies fixed up immediately, as it's unlikely you'll want to come back. I tend to find at LEAST 1 mistake per shop, particularly on sale items. If in doubt, take photo's. I get stalked by curious security and workers as a result of my photography sessions, but I do it anyway.

Watch your unit prices. They are often wrong, and you may make the incorrect purchasing decision. If not wrong, they may have employed inconsistent pricing methods, such as a per tablet unit for one brand of dish washing tablet, vs a grams unit price for another.

No shame. There is no shame in asking for a discount for damaged stock. Look them in the eye and wait out the incredulous silence. Trust me, they will break first. Just remember that no shame rule when they are staring you down for a $0.50 refund or rain check.

What's your top tip for saving money at the cash register?


  1. Great shopping tips. I generally only buy meat when it has been reduced down, I have worked out the days and times this generally happens at my local supermarket so I get plenty of great deals to choose from. Your tip about not shopping with hubby made me giggle as that is the same as our house.

    Leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT

  2. I follow most of these rules too. I used to work in the advertising industry so I just love to avoid the brands altogether and go for the generic! You know, I just love the look of Home Brand in the pantry! Everything looks the same and it actually starts to look stylish in there! True story!!
    I am one for memorising absolutely every single price of every item in my trolley. When I get to the check out and it scans wrong - it's mine for FREE! Yay! It's like Bingo! It happens just about every time I shop and is so worth doing for the freebies and fun factor!

  3. I hate paying full price for anything, they don't call me the bargain queen for nothing! I often use my junk mail to do meal planning. I check out what's on super special for all the supermarkets and as they are all close by I will pop in and grab the best deals for the week.

  4. Wow that's fantastic! I find that my fruit, veggies and meat would eat up over $100 at least!

  5. It sounds like some of us are on the same page! Thanks for stopping by all xx

  6. Wow I'm impressed you can shop that cheaply! I would love to get away with it that for $260 a week.
    You've inspired me to try harder.

  7. I spend WAY you much - we spend at $260 a week for our family of 5, but then I'm not a very good meal planner. I MUST do some of these to cut down this major cost we don't need to have!

  8. I love this! Well done for such a low grocery bill! I follow most of yor tips already but I love the $20 extra spend part!


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