On Saturday night as I was planning our weekly menu that would be turned into our shopping list, I thought I would do a post about this as it is such a key part to keeping on track with grocery spending, being organised and making sure we are eating a balanced healthy diet. By being organised like this we are more likely to avoid the very unnecessary takeaway dash because there is nothing quick and easy to prepare on those nights when we are time poor or are just a bit to tired at the end of the week.
Over the past year with the big sporting focus our grocery bill has shot up massively! This was due to eating specific meals that fueled our bodies for our sport, a different focus to 'normal' eating on the amount and type of proteins and carbs along with plenty of colourful veg not to mention the quantity (you get a bit hungry as an athlete training 10-15 hours a week whilst balancing a day job and family).
I will confess often we weren't menu planning but rather just going to the supermarket and making a loose plan as we went around. Did this work for us? 50/50 really. Half the time we would be getting enough to see us through the week but overall our meals were not the cheapest to prepare or the quickest. I would also often find we would be shooting past the shops midway through the week because we didn't have what we needed. I also really shudder at the amount we were spending week to week, I know most of it was a necessity for the stage we were at but as I reflect back I know if I had been a little more savvy with the planning I could have made it less expensive. The issue for me here though was I was juggling way to many things on a day to day basis and really I was just bone weary tired but just trying to get through.
|An adaption of Courgette Slice - great for lunch or post training|
Once the race was all over and done with in September we came home from our big adventure and knew it was time to knuckle down. Our grocery spend had crept back to $350 or so a week and sometimes it was ending up costing more! I wrote a few years ago a Living Series and reading back I talked about our spend then. This is the same amount we used to spend when the kids were babies and our spending was not monitored and we dug ourselves into a bit of a deep hole. I do NOT recommend digging deep holes!
|A little treat in Italy, the Gelato's were to die for!|
We made massive efforts to get our grocery bill down all those years ago and it did get down to around an average of $180-200 a week. I know that this is not realistic for us at our current stage of life; our boys now eat twice as much (my goodness tweens eat so much! and yes they are going to get worse...bottomless pits spring to mind), I myself have to eat wheat free as much as I can due to a health issue and well lets face it, in NZ and I am sure it is the same all over, grocery prices have risen twofold in the past few years. Have you found your grocery bill has fluctuated significantly with life changes? I'm pretty sure my Mama crystal ball is showing me what we are in for with teen boys - any advice with feeding them nutritiously and keeping them satisfied whilst on a budget is welcome!
The cost of living is becoming a nationwide issue for many. We are a big agricultural hub and yet we find a block of butter is well over $5, it costs nearly $6 for a 3litre bottle of milk, meat is pretty pricey depending on the cut and our fruit and veges are no longer as affordable overall as they used to be. Chuck on fuel prices nearing the $2.50 mark in some regions and it becomes super hard for most NZ'ers. We can't do anything to change this ourselves but what we can change is how we operate with our weekly grocery shop.
I have been keeping a closer eye on our spending and how this is being spread out and the biggest eye opener for our grocery bill was the fruit and veges. Our fruit and Veges are twice the amount that we used to spend when we lived in the country. A big reason was having our own vege garden and previously we lived in the heart of vege land with growers on our back doorstep and now we don't, so that will account for some of the fruit and veges being more expensive. It is a catch 22, we eat a well balanced diet and are very mindful of eating healthy and so fruit and veges are a mainstay of this but it's a large proportion of the overall grocery spend. Through strict planning we have very little to no wastage so we are going through it all. This then leads into making changes in the rest of the grocery bill.
|Meal prep Sunday's|
So I am working over the next wee while of bringing this astronomical amount down to a figure we can live with - and our budget can live with, so we can redirect those much needed funds to where they are really needed. This will mean breaking down each part of the grocery bill each week and getting an idea of how we are spending and where we can save. It involves making sure meal planning and sticking to shopping lists happen.
I hope if this is an issue for you also, that perhaps with this approach you can break down what you are spending your money on with your groceries. This may then assist in narrowing down where you can make cuts and therefore savings, in your grocery bill.
To be a worthwhile a goal has to be realistic, practical and achievable, otherwise it becomes to hard and you end up letting it all go out the window right? How do we begin to achieve our goal once we have identified where we can tighten up the spending?
Let's go over that in Part 2 :)