Are you left confused every month as to how your grocery bill ended up higher than what you budgeted for previously?
You sit wondering where the money went, and it unfortunately it has the knock on effect of disrupting the rest of your finances.
Here’s the shocker, statistics show that South African households do not have enough money to buy the food they need to survive every month, and we’re talking about households from various socio-economic backgrounds.
It’s also a sad fact that low-income households prioritize expenses, such as debt repayments, before purchasing groceries for their households.
We all know that food and grocery shopping is necessary, and yes the cost of meat and produce these days is absolutely madness, but there are things that you can try, that will help bring these costs down.
- Budget: Calculate the amount that you can spend on groceries each month. The preferred amount for groceries (luxuries definitely excluded) per person, per month should be between R1000 – R1200. Keep in mind that you’re probably going to have to spend a bit more every 2nd or 3rd month, as you going to most likely have to replace toiletries and cleaning products. Therefore, keep it in mind and prepare and plan for those times.
- Take only the money you’re prepared to spend: If you continuously exceed your grocery budget, only take the cash amount you’re prepared to spend with you. Absolutely DONT USE CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS! You’re objective is to purchase only what you need, NOT WHAT YOU WANT!
- A grocery list: Without a grocery list you are heading towards spending more than you need to, and also forgetting to buy the items you actually came to the shop to buy. Get prepared so that you know specifically what you need to buy when you go. It truly makes your life a lot easier. I personally make notes on my cellphone (because you always have your cell on you), so that I know exactly what I need to buy when I go to the shop. This makes the experience less painful and time consuming. I hate walking up and down aisles aimlessly trying to remember what it was I was here to buy, nobodies got time for that!
- Plan your meals: Plan your meals ahead, specifically a few weeks in advance and keep an eye for deals (such as “buy two for the price of one”), clearance items and other specials on items you need. By planning (keeping track of what’s in your freezer and lying in your cupboard), you can avoid extra trips to the shop.
- Shop without distractions: Don’t let your kids influence the amount of items you buy, especially if it’s not on your grocery list.
- Buy & cook in bulk: You can save money when buying in bulk, but make sure it really is a bargain price. Cooking in large batches means you can always add a few meals to the freezer for those rough days at work, when the last thing you want to do is stand in front of a hot stove cooking.
- Save with No Name brands: Don’t think you won’t save cash on those “No Name” brands you see in the store. No name beans or tuna cans, can definitely save you money on your grocery bill.
- Meat “free” days: Think about having a day or two out of the week that is meat-free. This helps to stretch your meat out allowing you to have enough for the rest of the month. Think about easy dishes like stews for example, where you can buy your meat in bulk. You then don’t have to buy thick expensive pieces of meat for every person.
- The little things count: Remember to take your own shopping bags with you, help the environment by being sustainable. Purchasing bags every time you go to the shop does add up in the end, not to mention the damage you do to the environment when you have to throw them away because their cluttering your cupboard. Another thing, the rewards/points you obtain at stores, like Clicks, Spar, Pick ‘n Pay, or Woolworths, really do add up and can help. I have friend that save their points until the end of the year, and then they use them for their Christmas shopping which is a huge help & savings!
- Eat at home: Nothing can compete with a nice home-cooked meal, especially price wise as eating out has truly become a luxury. Try to eliminate take-out and junk food dinners or at the very least reduce them to an absolute minimum. Your health and your wallet will thank you. Take-out’s are a luxury and should in actual fact have no place being part of your food budget.
Understandably, your new “shopping culture” will take time to change and adapt.
Just be realistic about it and take it one step at a time.