Last night Channel 9 aired a new show called "Eat Well for Less" and I knew it would be right up my alley. The weekly food budget is one that is unavoidable however we can always do better and spend less. There are different ways to save on a budget without giving up things. For instance instead of buying a can of coke for lunch at the shop you an buy a box of coke from the supermarket and take on to work for lunch and save yourself approximately 50% or more without giving up coke or diet coke as was in my case. I actually love budgeting and spreadsheets and recording things so this doesn't bother me and I know where all my money goes.
The show aired last night and followed families doing their weekly food shop to the check out. The hosts were in the office watching via a TV how the families shopped, what they bought and how much they spent. They say the average food shop for a family of 4 is $156 which personally is very lean however these families were spending $350-$700 a week food shopping. These families didn't shop with a list, nor did they view their pantry, fridge and freezer before going shopping. You can pretty quickly accumulate things if you just keep buying the same food items each week. For instance one family purchased a tray of Italian canned tomatoes when in fact at home they already had 7 or more tins. Unless they were having 50 people around for an Italian meal that is probably too much tins of tomato to keep in the cupboard.
In Australia we really don't need to stockpile food and if you ever run out there's usually 3 local supermarkets within 2 kms from your home. We don't need to stockpile for the winter or have snow days where you can't leave the house so a few years ago my friends and I cut back on what we were stocking in the pantry. We meal plan for the week and therefore you only need to buy food that you are going to have that week. As far as specials go if you don't buy it at the supermarket this week the other supermarket will have it on sale the following week. I would much rather that the supermarkets when they have specials 2 for 1 that they just lowered the individual price for the 1 item because it still forces us to spend more to save less... ah great sales and marketing coming into play here. Spend more to save more.
Most of the families were shocked at how much their annual food bills were and how much they could save buy making some simple changes. Firstly there was the one Dad who is a bit of a home brand snob and I thought he would have the hardest time making changes however he ended up being really good about it. The weekly food bills they referred to included food, take out and alcohol.
I loved the show and even though I learnt all these tricks about 7 years ago I can still improve on my weekly spending at the supermarket. This year I made a big effort to shop at Aldi 95% and Woolworths 5% and so far it's working and my food budget is going further however I do need to tweak it to save even more.
We all know that buying pre-packaged individual packets of biscuits, yoghurts etc. cost a fortune and I stopped buying the kids individual yoghurt about 7 years ago. A 1kg tub is a far better option and all you have to do is spoon it out into a bowl. Making food from scratch will always be healthier and cheaper for you.
If you didn't watch the show I encourage you to as I loved it. I think it's a weekly show and not a once off. With costs of fuel and electricity still so high saving money on food is a good place to start. The only thing I hope with people saving this amount of money that they put it to good use like paying off mortgages and debt rather than a "wow we've got all this money now we can spend it".