Thursday, January 20, 2011

Changing Habits is saving money...

Taken by me in the Otway Ranges
So we're almost six month into Our Mission and there are some areas we are seeing some definite savings. The biggest is the grocery shopping which is down from around $250 a week to $120 a week. Some weeks its a little more, others a little less and some weeks we don't need to shop at all. It's not been about cutting what we buy and living on 2-minute noodles and canned beans ~ although I do like the odd can of baked beans in ham sauce on toasted slices of grainy bread...

Some of the things we are doing might help a lot of people save on their grocery bill. We are buying for 2adults, 2 children, 2 cats and a heap of chooks who pay their own way by giving us eggs and, soon, free fresh chicken meat. That last bit is definitely not for everyone *grins*

The most helpful thing we did was to list what we buy in a typical week - those things that are on the list every week, habitually.  Have a think about it and what do you buy every week.  What are some of those impulse buys - trying new cereal, cleaning products, biscuits, chocolates? Forget about them for a while. Our shop also includes bathroom needs, laundry and kitchen bits and bobs. Some people say shopping is just the food shop - ours includes everything from beef to batteries, tomatoes to toilet paper.

Do you get some items every week, without checking the cupboard?
Are there items you could get elsewhere cheaper by buying in bulk - or by checking out the other shops and comparing the prices between stores?

Like I said, every week we were spending around $250 on the shopping - plus top ups as DH would go to the shops if we were needing milk or bread or cat food and coming home with 20 items! OK, exaggerating there, it was usually only 12 extra non needed 'things'. I think most people do that ~ go in for one or two things and come out for six...

Over the past few months, some of the changes we have made include:

  • Buying UHT milk for cooking. Using milk in a rue for a pie, or creamy pasta sauce is quite common for us, but it uses a lot of milk better used on cereal or for drinking - still getting used to the idea of drinking UHT.  Having UHT and powdered milk on hand also means there has been less impulse buying because we are not heading to the supermarket every few days for milk. 

  • Shopping less often ~ really easy to do now there is always milk at hand.

  • Stopped buying splurging yummies (special cheeses, pate, chocolate coated ice-creams) unless greatly marked down.

  • Buying cat food in bulk on special - this can save $9 a month.

  • Buy meat when it is marked down by 33% or more and freeze.

  • Putting a copy of My Shopping List on the fridge to mark any items which are running low or finished and using this as our fortnightly 'big' shopping list ~ this also stops the need to 'duck to the shop' unexpectedly. 

  • Making my own cakes, biscuits, muffins and muesli bars.

  • Buy the big block of cheese when its on special ~ and grate it yourself. Stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer, this lasts for ever without getting mouldy and lasts a whole lot longer than slicing it as you need it.

Look at all the 'reduced' stickers

  • Buying bread when its marked down (not on special) and freezing it. Again, the 33% rule applies for something to be a marked down bargain. This goes for rolls, crumpets and other bakery items like big iced donuts or finger buns (for school lunch treats - thus avoiding canteen spending)

  • Stopped treating sweets (desserts and lollies) as a 'need to buy' staple - home made desserts are great, plus 'pantry shopping' has found heaps of desserts. I do tend to have a few no name butter or plain cake packets but these make donuts, quick teacakes and other sweet treats when time is of the essence. At 80c a packet, I can justify that 'expense'.

  • Only buy icecream on super-special and do without, or making our own - we've got an ice-cream maker and its great for using marked down yoghurt mmm.

  • Stopped buying new products to "try out" unless there is a genuine need. Well, sometimes if its on super-special we might give some a go.

  • Before each payday (fortnight) I have a look to see what I have, then check to see what is in the cupboard to make with it. For example mince can become a spaghetti bolognaise, a lasagne filling, chilli con carne, savoury mince, meat pie, mince on toast. 

  • You can pad savoury mince recipes out further by adding frozen mixed vegies, tinned beans, left over veggies in the fridge ~ which in turn stops waste and adds variety. 

Once I have my plan for the weeks menu, I write down anything needed to add to make meals out of the freezer or fridge. Then I look through the supermarket catalogues and note anything on special I use on a regular basis! Then I go shopping with a list. Shopping is not a day out ~ but it is still fun ~ check out what is other people's trolleys and see if you can imagine who and how many they are shopping for.

A special isn't a special if you don't use it as part of your regular shop ~ its an impulse/try it buy. 

And there is nothing wrong with putting an item back on the shelf if you decide you don't need it ~ heck I've even done that at the register. You can change your mind any time before you pull out your purse to pay for it *grins*

Hopefully that gives at least one person out there a way to think about saving some money while shopping. None of these ideas are really new ~ you can find them all over the internet on FlyLady, Low Income Lady, Simple Savings and other such places. But seeing someone doing it for real might give you the incentive to try it for yourself.

Wait until I tell you about being a 'Vinnie Rat' and dumpster diving...

Remember, the Spare Change Jar at the top of the page will always be able to put your coin contribution to a good use and I've got some great news with regards to the Hellstra Saga and getting the power bill down. 

OH ~ must let you know it has been cleaning and de-cluttering central here! We've even got rid of one of the fridge/freezers and should see a huge change on the power bill. That ol' beast has never sealed properly, always iced up and been unable to keep things cool. The space it's removal had made is phenomenal! 

Have fun :D


  1. Love reading your posts!!!!

    I too am a list maker, make a 'menu' for approx 6 dinners, then make my list from that.

    I also like to shop about 8pm, that way the bakery items - donuts, finger buns, cheese rolls are on special - HUGELY!!! I wrap donuts (2 at a time) and cheese rolls in glad wrap then freeze. That way the kids can take a 'packet' to work/school and they are defrosted by morning tea time.

    Sue D

  2. Thanks Sue
    I could make a list for anything ~ what time to wake up, order of action, people to see, places to go! If I ever went missing, I think there'd be enough evidence to find me ~ easier than a trail of breadcrumbs :D

    Really pleased you are enjoying our Mission
    Mands :D