How much do you spend on your weekly grocery shop? Is it more than $50?
For Jody Allen, back in 2011, that figure was looking a little more like $200. She was a mother-of-one, had her second baby on the way and with little warning, was made redundant while on maternity leave.
While living on one income, and with a calculator on hand, Allen realised she only had $50 to spend on groceries a week. So, after “crying for a week”, and fearful of losing her house, the now mum-of-two pulled herself together and worked out how to save cash in every element of her weekly shop.
Now the author The $50 Weekly Shop, Allen is using her own experience to make sure families all of sizes can cut down their own weekly spend on food as a means of spending money on the things they value a little more.
And one thing she wants to make sure you know? Being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap.
Saving on the staples
According to Allen, buying “generic brands is a key principle of the $50 weekly shop”. Don’t go overboard, and don’t feel distracted or attracted to the pretty colours and cute images on the packaging, Jody writes in her book.
“Many generic-brand staples (flour, sugar, oats, etc.) are made in the same factories as the branded ones and contain the same ingredients,” she says.
If you’re going to scrimp, scrimp on the staples. Things like olive oil, flour, sugar, butter and even frozen vegetables can by bought in generic brands. Buy puff pastry rather than make it in order to save both money and energy and use cocoa instead of cooking chocolate because it’s cheaper and it stretches further.
More than that, Allen stresses that families should be buying staples in bulk. She recommends heading to local markets at closing time to see if you can save on a buck, or going to cheap variety stores – like your local $2 shop – to snag a bargain.
“The supermarket isn’t always the cheapest place to buy, especially if you are able to buy in bulk,” she writes.
“Sometimes you’ll find spaghetti sauces, nuts and dried fruits, canned tuna or salmon, rice, olives, soups and cereals [at a variety store].”