Okay, no in depth details here. We will save them for another time. Here we are just going to give you the highlights to stimulate thought and discussion. Just enough for you to dig deeper online if you wish or ask in relevant groups what others to to achieve each of these key. We hope these twelve are just the beginning of a great savings journey for you.
1. Create a loose and flexible meal plan
Have a loose plan for main meals that can be easily varied based on what is in your fridge, what is in season and what you have available to you. If you tend to follow recipes, be prepared to adapt them and see what you come up with. You might surprise yourself!
2. Work towards zero waste at home
One of the biggest sources of food wastage at home is when food spoils. To avoid this you need to evaluate what you have available and then work out what needs to be used before it perishes. This, for us, becomes the basis of our final meal plan for each day (after choosing our protein source earlier in the week). Start by evaluating what is in your fridge, then your spice drawer and then specifically the door of your fridge where you keep and often neglect preserves and the like. After this look at your less often used pantry goods. What can you make to use these up based on what needs to be used up first?
Hint: A really good idea for your pantry is to have a specific location for your less commonly used foods so you can see at a glance what needs to be used rather than sifting through your regular pantry items to find them.
3. Grow what you can
Be wary that some foods are more labour intensive than others, so do a little research and work with the time you have to invest in growing your own produce as well as the space that is available to you. If you have a small space then fresh herbs can make a massive difference. If you have access to large pots or open space that you own then long-term investment in fruit trees can pay fantastic dividends. Then you have all the things that you can grown by way of fruits, berries and vegetables in between.
If you have a bit of money to invest and power offsets like solar panels then why not consider hydroponic or aquaponics as a form of contained space to build your own food stocks. Both are great for leafy green vegetables and your herbs will go just a little bonkers in response. They are also relocatable which can make them practical if you have the potential to be moving house or changing spaces as a result of renovations or extensions.
If you are really game, have the space and your council allows then you can consider live food sources such as chickens for eggs. Goats also make great lawn mowers.
4. Engage in produce exchange
Once you have your own supply of food from home be sure to take advantage of your excess. You can offload it by exchange through the Grow Free Community allowing you to swap out for other foods that are useful to you. Alternatively you can barter or source fresh local produce through web sites such as Ripe Near Me. And, if those aren’t active in your community then make use of buy, swap and sell groups, Marketplace and other locally focused groups.
5. Where possible, purchase in season
Purchasing in season means overall cheaper prices and much, much fresher produce than those items pulled out of a cold store. It means a greater variety in your diet as you change your usual buying habits from season to season and the higher level of nutritional intake value tied with it being fresh. Eating from seasonal foods is much easier too as you connect with local growers either from backyards or from nearby farm lands.
6. Buy as close to your food source as possible
The less hands your food has to pass through the cheaper it will be. It also increases the chance that more of the profits will go into the hands of the producer by giving them a better sell price. Do some research and have a look at what is produced in your area and seek out vendors that source locally first before looking interstate or to imports.
7. Seek out second and third grade produce
Second and third grade produce is just as good for the eating as the first grade food. It simple doesn’t have that polished, picture perfect appearance. Many producers lose massive amounts of income from large chain stores locking second and third grade produce out of their supply chain. And since the War on Waste segment on bananas those chains will pass seconds to you at what was a regular retail rate and now slug you a premium for first grade items.
As a result there are great savings to be made by going to suppliers that are closer to the food source who are willing to sell produce of these near-perfect gradings. Just have a hunt around your local fruit and vegetable grocers and, if not, ask outright too.
8. Stockpile only what is well below your interest offset threshold
What exactly does that mean? What I mean is, think about your highest interest earning debt. If you are stockpiling it has to be something that you already regularly use and absolutely must be discounted at a rate that is less than the interest paid on any debt your currently have outstanding based on not stocking up on more than 12 months worth of a given item. My benchmark is double the savings than the interest payable. (This well covers off the compounding factor of interest also.) This means if you have a credit card debt then unless a product is an end of line discounted by 50-60% then there is no point purchasing it. You are better off putting the money into paying off the card.
Have no interest or fee/surcharge based debt? That’s awesome! If that’s the case then plan your savings benchmark on what you would lose in interest or capital earnings by not saving or investing that money. If you can’t double the savings then don’t buy it. Otherwise, go to town within a 12 month consumption period or the product expiry date – whichever comes first.
9. Buy your meat in bulk to obtain the best bang for your buck.
Deep freezer storage is quite cost effective to run if you are only opening the freezer a maximum of once a day. Buying in bulk can cut your meat cost down to around ten dollars a kilogram including some pretty choice cuts. Actively seek out suppliers that have the best priced deals on each types of meat you eat – pork, seafood, beef, lamb, chicken. You don’t have to purchase them from the same location.
10. Establish a pantry for your regular use items.
In establishing a pantry store, look to keep the regular use items that you need to make the kinds of meals you would regularly prepare. The premise is to save yourself going to the shop because you are short on the one or two ingredients that you need in order to cook that night. This often results in an extra 8-10 things being purchased as well, affecting your weekly spend.
11. Reduce processed food usage
One at a time, seek to replace each processed food item you purchase with a home generated alternative. This goes back to our second point as well – to aim for zero waste. For example if you purchase scrolls, finger buns or sponge rolls then consider baking an equivalent making use of any fruit that needs using up. If you are not a big user of a spice collection and regularly buy frozen wedges to oven bake, then buy potatoes and cut them into wedges instead and get a Roast Vegetable Spice Mix to season them with oil (available from amazing Foodland/IGA outlets also). It will instantly make a difference to the budget.
Don’t expect to change everything overnight. Just look for alternatives one at a time as you revise what you purchase. You may need to wait for something to become a routine habit first before trying to add in another change. Make changes at a rate that works for you.
12. Go shopping under time pressure
I think this is my one greatest tip that you start today. Put yourself under time pressure when you shop, have your shopping list and stick to it. Don’t browse. Know what you need to get and stick to it.