Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Food Budget

This post is for anyone that needs a little help with their food budget.
A few people have asked me how I feed my brood on $150 week budget.... well this post is for you.

Before I start, I have to say that I do go over every now and again, but often that is negated by being under every so often.
We also have chooks, a vege garden
( although coming near to an end, must sort this out! )
and have enjoyed foraging over summer for fruit
 ( our fruit trees are still young ).

We live in a small rural community where we have one New World supermarket, and one Four Square.  Unfortunately food prices are way above average in our community, so many either deal with it, or do a big food shop when they are in a big city.

And like many of you,  I almost weep when I walk down the supermarket aisles... its definately getting tough out there...
so here is what I do to feed my family without compromising too much nutrition..........

  • Menu Planning!

( Hubby made this for me! People always laugh at the house rules.. hehehe)

It really is the key to successful budgeting, it stops you from doubling up on your grocery shop, and putting unneccesary items in your trolley.
Also you aren't caught short when dinner time comes around and the... "whats for dinner" at quarter to six happens, so what do you do?  you rush down to the fish and chip shop, sound familiar?
 sure does for me!

So every sunday I wash down my board and plan the next
 7 days  menus.
This is based on what I have in my cupboards and freezer.
Then I write a list of things I need to bake for the kids lunch boxes.
Once this is complete, I write a shopping list of what I don't have at home to complete the menus and I stick to it!
 ( this can be hard but your wallet will thankyou :)

As you can see above, I like to remind myself the day ahead,
 what needs to be done in order for the following days meal to be completed, eg: cook more rice for one meal to use the next day.. or soak chickpeas for hummus for the following day.
This really saves you being caught short!
Been there many times before.

  • Because meat is so expensive, ( and mince ain't cheap here either )
I try and buy whats on special, and often buy extra to freeze...
I have a rule.  If it is more than the $10 dollar mark total, I will try and make the meat last for two dinners.  I will do this by adding more vege ( courgettes/carrots are good ) or beans, red lentils (these are very good to bulk out mince dishes
Thankyou Destitute Gourmet! you can find her site here )

  • I try and bake and cook as much as I can, and I use recipes that don't use huge amounts of butter, and make large amounts, basically good value recipes! 
 Also making biscuit dough that you can freeze in log shape, really helps as a quick fix when you can't be bothered baking or baking a extra cake to freeze.

  • I make my own cleaners,
 Megan at Mousehouse has a great series on this.
And although this isn't a green cleaner, my mum always makes a spray using about a teaspoon of Handy Andy ( or pams equivalent ) with water to the top, in a spray bottle, certainly makes it go further.

  • Have you tried washing your hair with baking soda? and then conditioning with cider vinegar?
Well the secrets out.... I have converted! Definately feels weird at first but you soon get used to it and the results speak for themselves.  But note: make sure you thoroughly wash out the vinegar! hehehe

  • Having a vegetable garden and planting fruit trees, really is worth it.... and even though it can be hard work at times, its rewarding... even if next summer all you plant is a one courgette plant..... try it!
  • Lastly if I go over my budget one week, I will try and make up for it the following week. 
 (This can happen when butter is $3.99 a block, so I stock up.)

Like me, there are going to be items in your shop that you just won't compromise on, for us its milk! 
 But by planning ahead and getting creative with my cooking,
 I have managed to accomodate this in my budget.

I have to end this by saying, I am not the most organised person ( my family can vouch for that ), but since using this system, I have seen how much I can save and now it has become a personal challenge for me ( borderline obsessive ) and when I cook something for my family that they really enjoy, and hasn't cost a arm and a leg
 it gives me warm fuzzies!

What do you do? love to hear.


Widge said...Best Blogger Tips

wow your organisation is totally inspiring! I so need to get me one of those planners!!!

Hootnz said...Best Blogger Tips

@Widge Thankyou, you give me too much credit, although the food side is sorted, the rest of the board is for me to inspire to :)

jimbillsmum said...Best Blogger Tips

Wow thanks for the ideas. Is $150 just for food or does it include things like cleaners, gladwrap, dog food etc? I made the dishwasher powder. I dont think its as good as the supermarket stuff but its good enough and cheap. How is the nappy making going :-)

Hootnz said...Best Blogger Tips

hey there, yes the $150 includes , cleaners,dog food etc. As for the powder, I know what you mean, but I to think its good enough... have you tried white vinegar as a rinse aid? First nappy made, definately want to make more... will email you :)

Sooner said...Best Blogger Tips

thanks so much for that. I have tried the baking soda/vinegar hair wash, and must admit I quite liked it. But where do you get those things in bulk (bulk bin...or is there somewhere else better) and how much vinegar did you use (did you put in a spray bottle)? I found the vinegar went so fast. The meal thing is my
"demon"....I go really good planning meals, then everyone (me included) gets bored with those...and then I am stuck. I too love Destitue Gourmet... I have recently bought a 2nd hand magnetic whiteboard that I will update slightly to include what you have. I know it is definately helping with the organization and the kiddos.

Again, can you tell me how much milk you go through in a week? do you make your own bread? Also, can you give an idea on your kids lunches/breakfasts etc? Sorry to be so nosy, but if I can get one idea that moves us toward financial freedom, it is so worth it.

Hootnz said...Best Blogger Tips

Hi sooner, I'm glad this was some help,

I got my washing soda crystals from Bin inn, you can also get your vinegars and baking soda etc from there, but be cautious and work out the pricing compared to the supermarket... I found that pams, white vinegar, and dyc cider to be cheaper than the bin inn I go to... although all bin inns are different.
At the moment I use the vinegar straight from the bottle, but next time I am in a city I will be buying a spray bottle, as this will probably give better distribution. So far the vinegar has lasted about a month and it is still half full...mind you with mostly boys in the family that could be why ( they only use the baking soda )
As for the meal planning I understand the rut you can get yourself in, so I try and mix it up differently each week, though fridays are usually our "fast food" days, where we enjoy making pizza, or wraps with leftovers and salad ( kids enjoy making these ).
As for the milk? well we generally go through 3-4 lots of 3ltr milk bottles a week...we mainly make our own bread, but we also have store bought mixed in there too ( trying to rectify this )
breakfast, is anywhere between the standard ricies, cornflakes or toast, sometimes porridge.
Kids lunches is usually a cake/muffin, then a couple of biscuits or slice ( all homemade to save the dollars )...
two pieces of fruit ( could be tinned fruit if I have run out) a sandwich, jelly or homemade yoghurt, occasionally cubes of cheese and gerkhin.... at the moment the kids are enjoying popcorn. We have a air popcorn machine, so I do this in the morning and add a bit of melted butter and salt ( I know that plain is healthier but they wont eat that )
Normally the sandwiches are the uneaten item but wastenot want not, that gets feed to the chickens, so it saves on poultry feed.
As a rule I generally put six items in the lunchbox, and that seems to be enough.
When they come home, its usually a milo and something that I have baked, to wait out till dinner time.

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions let me know... I couldn't find your email so I wasn't able to contact you via google account... Laura

Penny said...Best Blogger Tips

Some great tips there Laura. I, too, am on a bit of a budget, with me being a stay at home mum and my husband, a teacher. I already do a lot of what you do, although I could prob bake more, but so keen to try making my own cleaners!
Just tried your mum's trick with the teaspoon of Handy Andy (I used Jiff but it's similar right?) in a spray bottle and I think it's going to be great. Thanks!!

Hootnz said...Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Penny, I would say you and I would be just a few of many who are in the same boat... as for the Handy Andy trick, I'm not sure if Jif would work the same, since it is more of a paste, abrasive cleaner, where as Handy Andy is a ammonia liquid cleaner... let me know though if it works

natasha said...Best Blogger Tips

thank you :)

Cat said...Best Blogger Tips

great post - I shop monthly and online - it has honestly cut down time and cost.
we too have veggie garden AND chickens.
I bake our own sweet treats and bread.

amanda said...Best Blogger Tips

Hello! First thank you for your post, I've been trying to save on various things that my family uses around the house and your ideas are encouraging. With my son having asthma and both kids having eczema i'm eager to find a cheaper and healthier way to clean and cook. I love the idea of a vegetable garden and tried this summer to plant a container garden, it didn't go very well but on my first try at least i got the plants to turn green and i had two teeny tomatoes that i was so proud of!

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