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