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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!