Lifestyle

Food costs eat away at budgets

Author and founder of money-saving website Cheapskates.com.au, Cath Armstrong, said there was a number of ways smart shoppers could slash their household food bills and save their hard-earned cash.
Author and founder of money-saving website Cheapskates.com.au, Cath Armstrong, said there was a number of ways smart shoppers could slash their household food bills and save their hard-earned cash.

WE need food to survive, but food costs don't need to eat away at the family budget.

Author and founder of money-saving website Cheapskates.com.au, Cath Armstrong, said there was a number of ways smart shoppers could slash their household food bills and save their hard-earned cash.

Her first tip for shoppers is to make a shopping list.

“Make a list and come up with a meal plan for the week, month or fortnight because that will give you control over what you buy,” Ms Armstrong said.

She said shopping list tools, found on most supermarket websites, gave the total cost of the bill so you knew what to expect when you reached the supermarket checkout.

“Because you know how much it's going to cost exactly, take that money out and only have that amount in your purse when you go shopping. This way you won't be tempted to buy anything extra because there's nothing more embarrassing than not being able to pay at the register,” Ms Armstrong said.

She said buying fresh food and cooking meals from scratch was a great way to not only save money but also your family's health.

“It's not expensive to eat healthy,” Ms Armstrong said.

Fresh fruit, milk, dairy, meat – these are the main things you need and are usually found at the back or down the sides of the supermarket, she explained.

“The easiest way to cut your bill is to cut-out the centre aisles ... pretend they're not even there,” Ms Armstrong said.

She also advised shoppers to get to know the supermarkets in their area and take advantage of the sales offered at different stores.

“Play the supermarkets off against each other. You don't have to be loyal,” she said.

Even if the stores are owned by the same company, they often have different managers who regularly mark down items like bakery products and meat at a specific time.

“If you need these particular items you then know when and where is the best time to shop for them,” Ms Armstrong said.

“I have two Coles stores in either direction of where I live. One always marks down meat at 4pm on a Sunday.

“If I need meat I'll go to that store at five to four and wait.

“Another supermarket does the same thing, but in the mornings.

“It pays to know these things.”

She said comparing the prices of different brands and choosing generic labels could also help cut food bills.

“Flour is flour and sugar is sugar. Whether it comes in a pretty packet or a plain packet, who cares,” Ms Armstrong said.

Coles' head of housebrand marketing, Simon Brady, said “dishing up something new for the family meal while sticking to a tight budget can be challenging”.

“Curtis Stone's Feed Your Family for Under $10 recipes (available in-store or at www.coles.com.au) offer inspiration for the kitchen and still leave you with change for dessert,” he said.

“The quick and easy lunch and dinner recipe ideas have proved extremely popular with people on a budget.”

He also told shoppers to “look for great savings on larger packs of the items you're buying and don't be afraid to buy in bulk, cook, then freeze for later”.

“This can save families both money and time,” Mr Brady said.

Frugal tips

  • Make a list and stick with it.
  • Check what you already have before shopping.
  • Shop on your own without your children or partner as you often find things that you don't need end up in the trolley when you're with them.
  • Before buying in bulk, consider how will it be stored and if it will be used within a reasonable time.
  • Don't feel the need to spend your whole grocery budget.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Facing up to the music

SOUR NOTE: Scott Cooper at The Mecca.

Lismore Music Festival organisers apologise for event cancellation

NORPA founder brings us Opera Australia

FOR KIDS: James Payne as Troll and Ruth Strutt as Ferdinand in El Kid, Opera Australia's production for primary schools.

El Kid comes to Albert Park Public School

Women's Expo to open the festival

Lismore's Women's Festival.

A day long event for the wellbeing of women in Lismore

Local Partners

Tony Abbott: Coalition in danger of becoming ‘Labor lite’

Tony Abbott has penned a highly critical analysis of the Turnbull Government, highlighting voter “despair” and concerns “the Coalition has become Labor lite.”

REVIEW: Under the Gun doco looks at right to bear arms

ARMED: A still from the 2016 documentary film Under the Gun by Stephanie Soechtig.

An in-depth look into America's gun culture.

Messing with your head

MIND BLOWN: What could be weirder than the realisation that we have another completely separate brain and nervous system than the one originating in our heads?

Fascinating connection between your gut and your brain

Sir Elton John coming to Mackay: What you need to know

Sir Elton will come to Mackay and Cairns in September.

Tickets to the concert go on sale on March 14

Wonderland star hits the big time in America

HE MAY not be James Bond, but Bundaberg lad Michael Dorman has hit the big time in a lead on Amazon web series Patriot.

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

Bindi Irwin's birthday tribute to her dad

Bindi Irwin

Bindi Irwin has paid tribute to her dad on his 55th birthday

Reality TV show gives Maryborough a boost

*WARNING EMBARGOED until 9.15pm Monday January 30* Sean Hollands and Susan Rawlings pictured after their wedding on the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Maryborough looks good on reality TV show.

Buderim dad rejects gay son's emotional plea for second time

LOVERS: Grant and Chris have been together for more than three years, and Chris' parents refuse to acknowledge their son's fiance.

Son’s emotional plea rejected again by unmoved father

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Popular island resort sells to loaded international investor

OUR PICK: Chris Foey's colourful shot of one of Gladstone's great tourism hot spots, Heron Island.

International investor snaps up piece of Gladstone paradise.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!