Save Money on your Grocery Shopping

 

Save Money on your Grocery Shopping

While talking to a friend I realised that the planning and structure I have in my kitchen and grocery shopping is not normal for every family. While comparing grocery bills she was shocked to hear that my family spends significantly less than hers, they are a family of 3 we are 5. She has since taken up some of my suggestions and has saved time and money. Therefore I thought would share these with you.

  1. Research

If you don’t have a list of at least 14 family meals that everyone enjoys then it’s time to do some research.  Select meals that you think everyone will enjoy, cook them, if they successful add them to your list.

  1. Weekly Planning

Once you have your list of 14 meals, select one evening to plan your weekly menu. My family sits on a Thursday night after dinner. I do the shopping on Saturdays so this gives me 2 days to put together a list. As I have 2 school going children we also discuss school lunches. This makes school mornings less stressful as we have planned ahead together.

  1. Shopping List

Using your weekly menu create your shopping list. Golden rule – never shop without a shopping list and always on a full stomach. Shopping when you hungry is dangerous, everything looks delicious and finds its way into the trolley. I also take my menu with me, if there is an ingredient I can’t find the menu assists me in swapping that meal for an alternative.

  1. Cut down on Meat

This seems like a tall order for most South Africans but cutting back on meat has so many benefits.  Health, cost saving and environmental. Allocate 2 to 3 meals a week to meat and the rest to vegetarian dishes. Because we cut back on meat we can afford to buy good quality meat and still save money. Try stay away from meat for breakfast and lunches, this assists in cost saving and improved health.

  1. Junk Food

Junk food can be so deceiving, a bar of chocolate, packet of chips. On face value they seem cheap, but on average a bar of chocolate comes in at                  R200 p/kg.  Still think it’s cheap? Junk food has its place, my kids love chocolate so much so they renamed a day of the week. Tuesdays are now Chocolate Tuesdays a tradition in which after school they off to Spar to buy their weekly chocolate.  As I said it has its place, moderation is not only beneficial to your pocket but also the health of your family.

  1. Limit products

Limiting the amount of same type food products in your kitchen reduces clutter,  wastage, makes it easier to shop and saves money. Example: select 2 or 3 different cereals or porridge’s in your pantry at a time, when one is finished you can then change it to a different cereal if you feel like a change.

  1. The Envelope System

Calculate the cost of your groceries per month for the last 3 months. Average this amount per month, this will be your budget for the next 3 months. When you get paid draw your total monthly budget cash. Divide your money by the amount of weeks in the month and then place that amount in the 4 or 5 envelopes. Only shop for items you need for the week using the cash envelope for that week. Take a calculator with you for the first 3 months until you get an idea of how much your average shop is. At the end of the 3 months having implemented the above suggestions you will come to a new average spend on groceries per month. This will become your new grocery budget.

Taking time to plan and structure your kitchen and grocery shopping saves  time, reduces stress during the week and saves money. No daily shopping trips, the adults and teenagers can share cooking nights and morning school lunches are a breeze as the week has already been thought through. Go on, give it a try, I am sure you won’t regret it!

 

Minimising my Children’s bedroom

 

Children are forever changing and therefore their rooms will forever change. Each child is unique and wants to express themselves in their own way. This will reflect in their rooms and can be difficult for parents, who like myself are OCD. We want everything in a structural and organised manner, they want to display everything. There has to be some compromise.  I have learnt to drop my OCD tendencies and they have had to learn to live a little tidier.

I believe that structure and responsibility should be taught at home and this is one area that can help achieve this.  Living in South Africa a lot of families have full time or part time domestic helpers. Although this is a great help it can leave children never learning how to clean up after themselves. A necessary life skill that should be mastered by the time they head of for varsity.

What our compromise looks like:

Bedrooms

My children have to make their own beds and keep their rooms tidy daily. Weekends are free as long as we have a clear path to the bed to kiss them good night.  There is nothing more painful than standing on a piece of Lego when there is a crisis in the middle of the night! On Sunday evenings rooms have to be neat and tidy again ready for the week ahead.

Toys and books

Twice a year going into winter and summer we evaluate what they have and what they need. We donate anything that does not fit or is no longer played with. It is important to do this task with your children so they learn how to manage and control their own stuff.  Each child has a storage unit used for books and toys. We agreed that if all their items don’t fit its time to donate something. We always donate  in the run up to Christmas to make space for the new toys.

CLOTHING

They actually need less items than you think, find a balance that works for your family. I have enough clothing to dress them for 7 days, so when we on holiday I don’t have to do washing. This works best for us. As for pyjamas we  have two sets, one being worn while the other is being washed.

These few principles work for our family. The kids still have responsibilities but also have some freedom to let go. We have a helper one day a week, the kids understand that she is here to clean and not to tidy up after them.  If their rooms are not tidy and cannot be clean, they will be cleaning them when they return from school.  Grounding children with responsibility, structure and boundaries will better equip them when it comes time to face adult life. This is a gift we wanted to give our kids.

Minimising my Lounge and Dining Room

 

Minimalist Lounge and KitchenOur comfort zone for relaxation, recuperation and family bonding.  This is where we share meals, build puzzles, complete homework and share stories of our day. My goal was to have this area functional for what we use on a daily basis.  Not functional for the once a year Christmas meal.

These are the things I took into consideration:

Dining Room

Is your side server functional or an ornament and photograph holder? If you are using it for storage, see what you could minimise that is in there. Then see what could be relocated to the kitchen and if the server is still required. We have an 8 seater dining table but I only have 6 chairs at the dining table.  The other two chairs the children use at their desks in their rooms.  When we have guests for dinner we simply move the chairs to the dinning area. This has helped me minimise the area while still leaving it functional.  It has also saved us money by not having to purchase desk chairs.

Lounge

Relaxation, Tranquillity and fun is what I wanted the lounge to represent in our house. An area for movie nights, board games and puzzle building. First decide what feeling and functionality you want to achieve and then minimise towards that.  Too many big bulky items make a space feel cramped and dark. Letting in natural light with minimised decor will help you achieve a tranquil lounge.

Books

I am an avid reader and love to learn so books have always been a part of my life.   I decided to keep those non-fiction books that have had a profound impact on my life. These are books that I will turn to again when the need arises.  All the other books were donated and I have comfort in knowing they will be appreciated by another reader. I now have only 10 books but they are those that build me and make me a better person.

DVD’s

We kept the classics and the ones we would want to watch with our children as they grow up. During this lock down period of Corona-virus we have actually made use of them.  It has been fun having movie nights and reminiscing on our younger years.

Ornaments

I have kept only those that have real sentimental value to me.  I have four sentimental items passed down from my grandparents that I will pass onto each of my children one day.  My husband and I travelled for four years before having children.  We collected memorabilia from so many places.  As our life and priorities have change, we find these have less meaning now.

Wall Units

These always tend to be big and bulky with lots of cubicles, draws and shelving.  A prime product for clutter.  We had one and getting rid of it has been the best minimising decision I have made.  It has freed up an enormous amount of space and made the lounge feel more airy and light.  What we have installed now is pure fit for purpose and nothing more.   We painted our old mahogany coffee table grey, changed the handles.  The lounge went from dark and bulky to new and airy with only a few small changes.  We managed to change and minimise this area without spending more money than what we sold our old wall unit for.

You cannot underestimate the impact that space has on your life. I remember when I finished minimising the kitchen, lounge and dining room I actually felt like it was easier to breath.  You may dismiss it as just stuff but that stuff you keep walking past is registered in your subconscious.  That clutter takes up space in your mind and generally comes with a to do list.  I no longer have that nagging to do list sitting in my subconscious. I can now just Chill!

Minimising my Kitchen

Minimalist KitchenI love, love, love kitchen stuff but at the same time get annoyed with cramped cupboards. As a true South African we love entertaining. Braai’s in Summer and Potjies in Winter,  with a bowl and plate for every occasion!  This was by far my biggest challenge, it time to get brutally honest with myself and my kitchen.

WARNING – ensure you have an entire uninterrupted day to get through this area before starting.

Below things to consider:

Large Appliances

The deep fat fryer,  2 coffee machines, rice cooker, bread maker etc. Consider how often you use them and is there not an alternative that could be used.  Example: Rice cooker, can you cook rice in a pot?  Deep fat fryer, can you fry in a pot or you can use the oven?

Pots and Pans

Pots, Pans, Colanders and Roasting Dishes, select the ones you use daily. Think about your Sunday roast, this is generally the meal that uses up most of these items, make sure you have enough.  Consult with other family members who cook as we all have our favourites that we prefer using.

Serving Dishes

The only time we really use serving dishes is Christmas and sometimes when we have guests over. Consider your Pyrex and oven pots and pans that can be used as serving dishes as well.  From oven or stove to table has its benefits, food stays hotter for longer and result in fewer dishes.

Tupperware

The worst cupboard in the kitchen, its always in a mess. Basically if you don’t use it lose it.  Get ride of anything that is missing its partner. The less you have in this kitchen cupboard/draw the easier it is to maintain. Kids drinking bottles and school lunch bags start creeping in unnoticed in numbers. One per child is enough with a neutral extra for that morning emergency when the zip breaks!

Plates, side plates and bowls.

Its time for those impractical or duplicate Wedding gifts to find a new home!  Mixed matched, chipped and child unfriendly items need to hit the road.  Keep what is practical for you and your family.  As a family of five I have a set of 12, this gets me through two days before having to put the dishwasher on.  This work us. Consider your life style, your family and what will make the most sense for you.  The objective is to clear your space to give you back time, freedom and enjoyment of being in the kitchen again.

Cutlery and Cooking Utensils

You will be surprised how little you actually need. I have a cutlery set of 12, just like my dinner set, for dishwasher reasons. Cooking utensils, one of each is all you need. Then one of each for things like tip opener, potato peelers, wine bottle opener etc.

Glasses, Mugs, Tea Cups

These are definitely gifting items.  Just because you were gifted a mug does not mean that you need to keep it! Pay it forward and gift it to someone else or someone in need. Opt for duel roll glasses that can be used for soft drinks, wine and whisky.  These always work better if they are individually replaced.

Baking equipment

Simple if you have not used it in the last 6 months it’s unlikely you will use it anytime soon, get rid of it. You either a baker or you not.

That bottom draw

Better known as the chuck it draw – get rid of it. Everything in that draw has a place in the house, it just has not been taken to its rightful place.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, where laughter, conversations and teachings take place. Having a clutter free and easy flowing space will enhance these experiences. Nothing in the kitchen should be a chore but rather a mindful activity that is filled with love and care for those closest to you. After all the best ingredient in any dish is love.

Minimising my Bathroom

 

Minimalist Bathroom

The most natural progression from the wardrobe was minimising my bathroom. Depending on the kind of person you are this can be the hardest or easiest room in the house. The main objective is to get down to those few items required to remain hygienic. Keep only the  makeup you wear on a day to day basis.  Keep counter tops  clutter and mess free.

Below are the things I took into consideration:

Hotel mini bottles

Out they go because you don’t need them at home. Next time you visit a hotel pack your own toiletries and refrain from bringing back the mini bottles. This can be your way of contributing to a lower carbon footprint.

Shampoo, Conditioner, etc

Half-filled body washes, body creams, shampoos and conditioners can be consolidated into one bottle per category and then use until complete so as not to waste. Once you have used the left overs select the brands you like most and that you can afford and stick to them.

His and Hers

Do away with all the his her products and find something that works for everyone.  This will reduce clutter, save money and time when it comes to the shopping list.  Face products for his and hers are acceptable as they are tailored to suit your own skin type.

Toothpastes

Select one toothpaste that the whole family likes. If you have small kids keep using age appropriate toothpaste for them because they have lower levels of fluoride. Usually by age 6 they are on the same fluoride content as adults,  dependant on your brand preference.

Make – up

Make up can be a very dirty place and it does not stay hygienic for very long. Keep the brand you like the most and discard the rest. If you like mixing up your colours for winter versus summer then consider purchasing a small pallet to get you through just that season.

the non-essential items

These are all your bubble baths, bath salts, scrubs etc.  These are items I never purchase for myself they always gifted.  I make use of them but in the interest of minimising my bathroom they not on my shopping list.  If you are someone who does enjoy a good salt bath then just stick to one product at a time.

 

Finding products that work for everyone contributes to minimising your bathroom and also saves you money. Less product means less to purchase and less money spent, it’s a no brain-er.

Minimising my Wardrobe

Minimalist WardrobeAs this is something I wanted to do I start minimising my wardrobe first.  Unfortunately my wardrobe was not just confined to my bedroom. Don’t judge,  I am sure many of you can relate!  I did not have a plan before I launched the attack on minimising my wardrobe but in hind sight these are things I considered while going through the process:

Weather

I live in East London, South Africa which has a lovely sunny climate and next to no winter at all. However as a family we love hiking which takes us to colder climates where we need those winter boots and jackets.  Ensure that you make a realistic percentage contribution to your wardrobe per season.

Work Attire

I work in the corporate world which requires a smart wardrobe, these are not the same clothes I enjoy wearing on my time off. In essence I have two wardrobes in one, one for work and the other casual.

Washing

As I work full time and to make life simple, I selected two days in a week in which to do washing. In this case you need to ensure you have enough clothes to wear between washes. Minimising your wardrobe should not result increased  household work.

Holidays

When we go on holiday the last thing I want to do is washing, therefore I made sure I would have 7 sets of clothing for a holiday trip. Things like denims, jumpers and jackets can we worn 2 or 3 times before being washed so this brings your overall need of clothing down.

Everyone’s wardrobe will be different and there is no one size fits all.  It’s important to find what works for you.  When I finished clearing my wardrobe I had 4 large boxes to send to charity.  This was too daunting for me, I opted to keep the boxes in my garage for 4 weeks. If I did not need anything from them  in 4 weeks, chances are I would not need it in the future. If you live in an area where your seasons are more defined, pack your boxes into seasons and donate once you have been through 4 weeks of that particular season.

As you adjust to your new norm you will notice clothes that are still not in use even though you have minimised. This is normal, we all have our favourites as we naturally wear what is comfortable and feels good. When you ready you can go back and re-evaluate your wardrobe again. In the meantime, sit back with a cup of coffee and admire the work that you have achieved.

The Wardrobe – impact on ourselves and the world

Over generations clothing has moved from necessity to something that we do that bring us happiness.  It’s not just about the purchase but the event of shopping itself. Some of us do it with friends, while others do it for some quality alone time. Every purchase brings with it happiness which is good or we would never purchase anything. The question is how long did that happiness last for? Was it for the right reasons?  In the long run will it have a positive or negative effect on my life?

There is a big difference in the long term satisfaction of a purchase that was a need and will be used for years versus the purchase to fill a void. A void filling purchase yields instant gratification but is usually followed by a feeling of guilt.

Before you make your next purchase take some time to consider how it is going to impact you.

Interesting stats on clothing
      • Every year the world produces more than 80 billion items of clothing.
      • We produce more than 13 million tons of textile waste a year globally, 95% of this is recyclable or reusable yet ends up in landfills.
      • The fashion industry makes up 20% of the worlds water waste.
      • 10% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions come from the fashion industry.
      • South African personal credit card debt was sitting at R116 billion at the beginning of 2019, that’s an average of R16k per person.
      • The fashion industry exploits people in developing countries. These are female workers in places like Bangladesh and Vietnam earning less than R5 an hour.  R5 is not enough to sustain the basics needs in life.

Everyone wants to look beautiful and feel exceptional in great clothing, but how many garments does that take? Do we really need a new outfit for every party or event?  Are we not more beautiful from the inside as who we are and how we contribute to the people and world around us?

We all need clothes, they are a necessity and serve a purpose. The balance is only tipped when we over consume at the expense of others and the world around us.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_fashion

http://theprettyplaneteer.com/fashion-industry-waste/

https://www.iol.co.za/personal-finance/debt/credit-card-debt-tackle-it-with-these-5-easy-steps-36380072