Tag Archives: budget

R3000 Grocery Challenge – (HOW) WE DID IT!

So last month, we spent under R3000 on groceries – all food. All food. How did we do it?

Let me keep this simple. In essence, you spend on food what you want to spend, or what you allow yourself to spend. It really is that simple. If I had R1000 budget, then it would have been pap, for 30 days, for each meal. Perspective.

I’d love to share my biggest takeaways:

My preface: It is GOOD to love, enjoy, find healthy value in, be filled by, be inspired by, create, and bring community together with FOOD.

So bearing that in mind – here’s how we did it:

1. Quality vs Price. Don’t get me wrong guys – I’m all about quality. Our Good Food Club allows me to get good quality (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, grass-fed, natural etc.) at a reasonable price – so I’m not sacrificing quality. This is not always possible though. You have to pick your battles. I chose to downgrade on coffee beans (from Organic to Italian Dark Roast and saved R40) and brown bread (from Superior to, well, regular – and saved around R3 a loaf).

2. Don’t buy more than you need: The more you have the more you eat. If you have 2L of milk, you’ll go through it faster than if you had only one. I’m such an automatic ‘stock-upper’ when it comes to basics that we end up consuming (and buying) way more than we need. Do you need 5 cans of tomatoes? Probably not.

3. Shop the sales: Food Lovers on a Wednesday, PnP discounted goods/bulk packs, Woolies sales even. Buy from the factory shops, such as Elgin. You can save tens, if not hundreds of Rands, by keeping your eyes on the numbers.

4. Meal plan: I know, I know, who has time for this? But really! Meal planning not only takes away that frustrating ‘Gah, what are we eating tonight’ thought around 4pm each day, but it removes the spontaneous buying… and it doesn’t need to be complicated or in-depth – just jot down some meal ideas and shuffle it as you go through the week…

5. Convenience shopping: Engen One Stop at 9pm is SO convenient, but will always (okay, 99% of the time) be more expensive. You PAY for convenience, don’t forget that. Ready-made meals are always more expensive, unless it is a $1 mac and cheese box my best friend and I lived on in the states in our early 20’s, which resembled very little of real mac and cheese. I shudder to think what was in there…

6. Buying take away lunches: Hubby and I felt this one, but I’m proud to say we did not buy ANY take away lunches, and the greasy take away joint in our business park makes GOOD ‘slap chips’. It was a rule – NO bought lunches. And when it’s a legit rule – it simply isn’t an option to break it.

7. Eat when you’re hungry – not bored: A good old Michael Pollan Food Rule.

8. Grow ‘extras’ in your garden: coriander, cherry toms, basil, spinach/rocket, spring onion. Those items cost money and OFTEN go off in your fridge. Garden herbs and greens are fresh, organic and ‘free’ in essence.

9. DONT WASTE FOOD: If my kids didn’t finish their school lunches, the lunch boxes were opened and the food was finished before any more was on offer. Darling child, eat your crusts/remaining apple/orange segment you left in there because it still had ‘the pip in’. You’ll honestly save an extra sarmie or piece of fruit you could use in the next days’ lunch box. Also, give your pantry a good clear out – spices, pasta, cans, almost-finished-packets of random stuff – it is all most likely (ermmm…) usable – so get your spring cleaning on and eat what has been neglected for too long (like 2 year old fondant, for example).

10. Simplify: Eat simply and drink simply. Water. Kombucha. Coffee. Easy meals, few ingredients – you can make something taste delish with less than you think. This way of eating is less stressful to prepare and lighter on the wallet. Save your gourmet meals for a special occasion.

11. Cook in bulk, stretch and freeze: I did this with mince and soup. I streeetched the meals (added lentils to mince and doubled the soup) and froze many portions. Not only does it make for quick dinners, but filling lunches at work.

12. Don’t get sucked into consumer culture: This is something a friend noticed she was doing, and honestly, I hadn’t even made the comparison. We walk around with our shiny, smooth (tired) credit cards and nonchalantly swipe swipe swipe. Put R3000 in an envelope labelled GROCERIES and you will avoid the shops like the plague. We are SO accustomed to buying WHAT WE WANT, WHEN WE WANT IT. For eg: we only use a salt grinder at home. But ours finished, so hubby suggested I use the table salt instead (WHAT? NO WAYS). But we did, and we survived.

We are a culture that doesn’t like to sacrifice. We don’t enjoy not having what we want. And we do this with food too.

Does that help? Can you relate? What did you learn? Do you know how much you spend every month?

As far as how this has transpired for us? I’m implementing what we’ve learnt, but I’m also going easy on myself. But no doubt, there will be times coming, when we need to tighten up again (I’m desperate to redo our floors, so R3k might be our ‘new normal’ for a while :)), and I’m happy to do that, aware that for MANY PEOPLE R3k is their average monthly income; they don’t have the luxury of having that much for food alone. That has been eye opening for me.

So give it a go – and let me know how you do. Good luck. xxx

R3000 Challenge: I’m in trouble… 

YOI! I’m in trouble. I did a quick shop yesterday. (I’m surprised at how often I need to go to the shops, as it turns out – 5ppl can eat quite a lot).

I spent another R300, which, in my vague calculation (still unsure of total GFC order) leaves me around R600 for the rest of the month. 😳 I have meat, and staples. But today my confidence may have superseded the reality of my situation because I might have made some rash decisions.

I bought 2 x 3kg bags of butternut. Why 2? Did I need 2? I’m not so sure. I also needed tea. So I bought a box, of 107 teabags. Do I need all 107 teabags? Can I even drink that much in 15 more days? Not a chance. But the bulk buyer in me came to the party.

The saver came to the party too and I couldn’t refuse the Jungle Oats on sale, nor the Bubbly chocolate. If Bubbly is ever on sale, it’s almost sinful to say no. Surely? So I caved, and as I grabbed two slabs off the shelf I thought twice about my budget. And naively took the hit. 


I seeeeeeriously need to tighten the purse strings. Because I have a birthday boy coming up, and cake (and school party treats) will be a necessity shortly.

RIGHT! Two points that have been raised by numerous readers: FREEZING GLASS JARS.

Yes, I too believed one could never freeze glass, but, it turns out you can. A friend showed me or else I would’ve been way too scared to try. They must be decent glass jars and you must be sensible. Don’t freeze HOT food, straight from the oven into the freezer, and take care when defrosting. Don’t take it from the freezer and pop it straight in the microwave/oven. Go easy on your glass.

I buy my glass jars from Bonpak in Prime Park, Diep River. They’re the same size and shape as the Oh Mega Nut Butter jars.

RETHINKING FOOD:

A friend messaged me today, and she was reading my mind. Her message was as follows:

I love the challenge blah blah because… you “buy what you need, no need to overdo elaborate meals EVERY night, good for the hips, good for the world / enviro (cause not over consuming in this consumer crazy society etc etc). Every time I have made my “normal” purchases I think of you and how you’re exercising such restraint and it makes me see the “normal” purchase as a super spoil.”

Someone else (talking about something similar but different) spoke of our consumer culture like this: shopping (unnecessarily, in our case maybe for food/eating) is a way of “filling voids, eradicating boredom, fostering laziness, thwarting creativity, not to mention draining our bottom line“.

I sometimes imagine asking someone from the early 1900’s to watch our western culture. And I wonder how sensible popping into the same shop every 2nd day would seem? Especially in today’s unbelievably demanding lifestyle, when we don’t actually have the time to spare? Does buying a takeaway coffee look cool, indulgent or irresponsible? Is it a prerequisite to your morning? (Coffee is ABSOLUTELY a prerequisite to mine, and I thank the Good Lord for the creamy sweet nectar every morning as I sip it). Pre-cooked meals? Are they convenient, or necessary, or have we barely stopped to consider the joy and creativity involved in cooking we’re blindly robbing ourselves of? Nooooooo judgement here guys – I’m asking myself these exact questions… (and I could’ve fueled a small country on the amount of take away coffee I had last month…)

What is food? What have we made it? Where have we been sold a lemon by society? I’m ALL about good food. I’ve said this already. I love what it represents; different textures and colours, what humans are able to create with micro greens and edible flowers, the complexity of flavours and beauty and satisfaction in a delicately prepared meal. But when did we put it on autopilot?