Smart Shopping

At the dinner table last night, conversation turned (inevitably at the start of a new year) to money. We were discussing the pros and cons of owning an old house; after some very heavy rain and the discovery of some broken tiles, there are some unforeseen unwanted repairs we might need to have done sooner rather than later.

Then we ended up discussing how much I spend on the groceries each week. I was feeling rather proud after a cheap (around $50 less than normal) shop on Sunday, and Tall was interested to know where that extra money would normally be spent.

IMG_1917I’ve never been very good at budgeting when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping. I tend to peruse my recipe books and decide on the recipes I want to make, write my shopping list accordingly, and toddle off to the supermarket to get everything we need. However, this method has a tendency to backfire, when I decide I want something out-of-season, and end up paying through the nose for it. Like eggplants, which I crave during winter when they cost ridiculous amounts.

Tall wasn’t suggesting that I should be spending less all the time (we eat well – very well – and it’s important to us that we have varied, healthy, tasty meals which will offer our boys the chance to try different flavours), but he decided to throw down a bit of a challenge. A challenge we shall call “Cheap-As Tuesday”.

The premise? Create a meal for four (me, Tall, Tiny, and leftovers) for under $10 every Tuesday. Of course, I accepted immediately (our relationship began with a challenge involving a whole pineapple…but that’s a story for another day), and I’m quite looking forward to it.

It helped that this Tuesday, I’d already planned on a cheap-ish meal, but I’ve already got my thinking cap on for next week. I wish I’d kept the receipt from the groceries so I could work out exactly how much tonight’s meal will cost, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be around that magic $10 mark.

On the menu this week:

~ barbecued honey-soy pork ribs with coleslaw and new potatoes
~ lasagne*
~ Cheap-As Tuesday: barbecued sausages with salad, sweetcorn and new potatoes*
~ grilled chicken teriyaki with rice and stir-fried vegetables
~ portobella mushroom quesadillas*
~ proscuitto and rocket pizza*
~ slow-barbecued lamb with salads

* with the potential for leftovers for Tall’s lunches, saving even more dosh.

Are you good at sticking to a food budget? Do you have any suggestions for a Cheap-As Tuesday meal I can try?

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11 thoughts on “Smart Shopping

  1. What a fun idea! I’ve never done a dollar amount for a meal, but I have done things like cook vegetarian for a week, no refined sugars, etc… this sounds like another challenge for me to take on 🙂

    As for cheap cooking, all I will say is that lentils + veggies = one cheap meal!

  2. I’ve always wondered how much you spend on your groceries since it sounds like yes, you do eat very well.

    I’m kind of lucky in that we have a very limited taste range – i’m not a good or experimental cook, so its very easy to stick to basic flavours and keep our food budget down.

    I always frown when I hear of my friends food “spendings” (because really, there is no budget). Where as I rigidly stick to mine and base my grocery budget off it.

  3. Surely saving money is one of the advantages of meal planning? Seeing what you need before you are in the checkout line and can make appropriate adjustments before hand? (eg, buying whats in season etc)

  4. Great idea and challenge Ange. Im with you about trying varied tastes and textures… Especially for the kids so they don’t become fussy eaters! We plan our meals, and have at least one vegetarian meal a week. We also try to cook larger meals that will last for at least two nights as it saves time and money. We have a budget and work to stay within it. Since we’ve been making our own bread (flour and yeast in bulk from gilmours) we are saving heaps in that department. Our vegetables are seasonal and are factored into meal planning to keep costs down. Pasta, pulses and rice go a long way too. Were always trying to find new ways to save! In the beginning it took a bit of effort to re-think and work out the different approaches but it doesn’t take long before you get into the swing of it! Also I’ve heard Sophie grey does some great food budgeting advice. Sorry about the essay! Looking forward to seeing how your meals go! 🙂

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