Tag: Food

July: End of Month recap

So at the beginning of the month I decided it’s time to say see-ya to our home mortgage. I gave myself the timeline of a year to completely get rid of just over $90,000 in mortgage. Whilst I still need to dedicate some time to working out exactly how to achieve that I worked out roughly where we need to be each month. Well the numbers are in and in this first month we are a mere $700 outside of where I would prefer be (after paying $300 in interest!). I’m pretty happy with that for a first attempt considering I didn’t decide on this goal until a week into July.

We did well getting $300 for scrap metal this month, I brought in $240 in surveys and $330 in catalogue delivery. So in all an additional $870 – which will help towards $10K additional for the year if we can keep this momentum up.

I also got a great deal on 4kgs of strawberries and 16 small pineapples for $20 from my local fruit shop. The strawberries have all been devoured with the pineapples being the current target. I have intentions to use them in curried sausages, pancakes and fruit salad, with the ability to chop and freeze extras for later cooking/smoothies. We also have avoided needing to pay crazy prices for tomatoes as all the self-sown ones have been ripening at a wonderful pace. I need to plant a bit more lettuce to sustain us, but we’ve also been eating broccoli leaf, garlic leaf and silverbeet reducing our grocery bill somewhat in the veggie department.

There are some big bills heading out way for August as there always is so I need to work out some extra ways to bring in extra funds – namely surveys, scrap metal and selling goods. I’ve just begun listing things for sale over the past few days (I was really slack on that one). I’m currently taking advantage of accruing more flybuys points through an offer that will get me another $30 in points for doing my usual shop over 3 consecutive weeks. That will give me $120 in flybuys for grocery shopping.

FID (frugallyinclineddad) is away for the first 2 weeks of August for work which will mean reduced expenditure for food as his work covers his meals as well. He also will receive additional pay during his working away.

In all I’m still feeling really optimistic towards our goal. Our daily interest will continue to go down ($20 this month compared to last month) which will continue to gradually give us money to put towards the mortgage.

Advertisements

Mid July Progress update!

So I’ve been working on the lofty year long goal for a fortnight now. I am tackling our pantry and deep freezer. Particularly since I’m not currently loving the Flybuys offers for bonus points, always a good time to take a break (I really do need to make a post explaining my process there!) Some payments have come in and unfortunately some bills have gone out leaving me in a fairly stagnant area at the moment.

– I need to get my butt into gear and list some more things for sale online.
– I had an awesome purchase on strawberries and pineapples at my local fruit shop which means a frugal treat in the form of delicious strawberries and cream, strawberry syrup, and if I get around to it possibly strawberry ice cream 😀
– I’ve been doing pretty well at earning almost $10/day through surveys
– We’ve begun collecting more scrap metal as well as pulling apart old appliances to remove the plastic… I tell you if you ever want to feel how much of an over-consumer you’ve been – going through less than 10 years of accrued appliances will do help it – I spent the time meditating on why had I even bought the junk appliances in the first place!

I do feel we are in the process of setting ourselves up for success though. I am motivated by this goal and my husband is plodding along once again skeptical we will see success in my timeline (his skepticism helps motivate me more though 😉 )

How are your goals tracking currently?

Cutting Costs: Project Groceries

projectgroceries
Recently a question was asked in a Facebook group I’m in – “how much do your weekly groceries cost and for how many people?” I was absolutely shocked when I was the only person who feeds 3 people (2 adults and a toddler) for less than $100 – usually closer to the $50-$75 mark where the norm seemed to be $150+ for the same sized family!

That conversation lead to many people asking how I manage to do it and so I am going to share my methods here.

Grow food where possible.

Now before you cry out that you can’t possibly grow anything because your yard is too small etc – I grow a decent amount of food on my balcony as I live in units. It’s nowhere near enough to sustain us but it certainly helps reduce costs and encourages us to eat healthier. We grow spring onions, silver beet, tomatoes, lettuce and sprouts such as alfalfa. Herbs are worth growing if you use them frequently as they can be quite expensive.

Keep a (digital) price book

There are apps that can fulfill this need or you could even use something like google sheets to create your own. Creating a price book can be time intensive but the payoff is massively worth it. They give you a starting point for what a good price is for each item you frequently buy and allow you to compare which retailer offers the best price if you have multiple choices. For example I live close to a Coles and Woolworths with an Aldi reasonably close by. I reject the idea that Aldi is cheapest because at least for where I live each retailer offers various things at the cheapest price. I never knew any of that before I started a price book.

Buy discounted vouchers

I almost always get at least 5% off everything I buy at Woolworths because I buy e-gift cards online. Coles doesn’t sell them as regularly at a discount unfortunately but you can sometimes buy only1 visa gift cards at cost value (ie $100 for $100) from Woolworths with your discounted wish card, that can then be used to shop at Coles – or anywhere that accepts visa – to allow you to shop at a discount. The discounted wish e-gift cards can also be used at big w and Woolworths Caltex stores.

Buy in bulk

Most of the time (although not always) buying in bulk is cheaper. If you can buy something in bulk and store it so it won’t be wasted (weevils, food spoilage etc) it’s a good way of reducing costs as well as your environmental impact due to reducing packaging. Always compare unit cost (price per kg or L) to make sure it is actually cheaper to buy in bulk – the price book is great for that.

Buy on special

Similar to buying in bulk, if you know you will use it and it won’t go to waste if you see it on special – buy up. This may temporarily make your grocery bill cost more but in the long run allows you too save. I buy milk frequently as it nears it’s expiry and gets marked down and freeze some (don’t go overboard though as it doesn’t freeze well for too long!) Similarly I often buy meat on a mark-down special and then freeze for later, allowing for cheap meat meals.

Utilise the store loyalty program

If a loyalty card takes $10 off my shop I still include that as an income/expense in my budget so technically isn’t reducing my grocery expenditure as far as my budget is concerned – but it is still reducing the amount I have to pay – and that is a definite win in my eyes.

Reduce wastage

The statistics for how much of our groceries goes into landfill is quite honestly terrifying. This is probably the single largest thing you can do to reduce your grocery expenditure. Shop your pantry and make a meal plan before you go shopping. That’s not too at you cant make wiggle room for awesome specials, but shopping your pantry first will remind you what you already have, it’ll allow you to rethink what you need in order to use up what’s in your pantry first. Learn more about the food we eat is another way to reduce wastage too as you can learn to make meals with what you probably used to throw out. I regularly make bone broth with scraps of bone and veggies, I salvage good bits of going bad fruit and freeze for easy smoothie bags, I freeze diced onion an mushrooms before they go bad for later use in cooking (note freezing can change the texture of food – some foods freeze better than others which can influence how they can be used post freezing)

Make from scratch or create your own bespoke version of processed foods

As I have mentioned previously in Cutting Costs: Project Cereal, you can use a combination of different cereals to make your own cheaper (and tastier) cereal. I also frequently make my own tastier, healthier and cheaper pasta sauce from scratch when I buy bulk quantities of cheap tomatoes. When buying processed foods you are frequently paying for convenience so expect there to be more time required to reduce the grocery spend this way.
There are also other methods you can use to reduce the overspend that are hugely well covered, things like avoid the centre aisles, don’t shop whilst hungry and only carry cash, but I don’t find those tips anywhere near as handy at reducing my overall grocery bill. I hope you have found some worth in these suggestions and would love to hear if you have anymore suggestions 🙂   -FIM

Don’t forget to check out other articles in the ‘Cutting Costs’ series!
Cutting Costs: Project Cereal
Cutting Costs: Project Water

Cutting Costs: Project Cereal

cereal2.jpg

I’m picky when it comes to cereal. Ever since I was a kid, light ‘n’ tasty was the only cereal I never got bored of ⅓ of the way into the box (sorry mum!). I dislike porridge and always have, weet-bix gets soggy and gross… but combination cereals, like just right and sultana bran are my kinds of cereal! However… they’re expensive and more often than not the box image expectation and the reality of what’s inside the box leave me totally disappointed.

Solution: make your own cereal!

Now I’m not saying this is the cheapest way to eat cereal, but I find it is the cheapest way to eat this type of cereal, and you can chop and change it entirely to your tastes.

 

I don’t have a set recipe and each batch I make is slightly different but the basic elements I try to include are

  • Corn flakes
  • Rolled oats
  • Weet bix
  • Rice bubbles
  • A combination cereal like light n tasty
    Optional extras:
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Sultanas

Honestly you can use any cereal you have available to you but it’s the quantity of what that averages the cost out for you. For example I use the cheapest of everything available to me (yes, even the cardboard tasting home brand weet-bix!)

Instead of paying around $7/kg for combination cereal, if I combine the following in complete packet sizes-

Combination cereal 770g = $5
Corn flakes 550g =$2
Rice pops 400g =$2
Rolled oats 750g=$1.19
Weet bix 1kg=$2.86

It comes out at
=3.475kg/$13.05=$3.75/kg
Which is by itself a $2.70 saving per kg however, that’s not the quantities I use.

The rough quantities I use are closer to as follows-

10% combination cereal =(.64c)
30% weet bix (crushed)=(.85c)
20% corn flakes=(.72c)
10% rice bubbles=($.50)
30% rolled oats=(.48c)

Or $3.19/kg a saving of more than 50% of store bought combination cereal!

Of course adding sultanas and dessicated coconut bumps the unit cost up a tad, but still it is much cheaper than a store bought version and if times are lean I can tailor the cereal to be cheaper again by increasing more of the cheaper ingredients and less of the expensive ones. The price can also be reduced by buying the cereals in bulk quantities while they are on special, or sometimes stores have multi-buys (such as 3 for $5 instead of $2 each for homebrand corn flakes and rice pops).

For the actual making part I just layer them all into a airtight container and then – to my sons amusement – shake it all up, and serve.

Don’t forget to check out other parts of the Cutting Costs series
– Cutting Costs: Project Water
– Cutting Costs: Project Groceries

Have you tried making your own cereal?
What ingredients do you include?