We are all looking to save money at the checkout, without compromising on the food we eat. PlanBuyCook gives you some small changes that can have a big impact on your weekly family shop.
Block cheese is the cheapest way to get your fill of tasty/cheddar cheese. While we can now buy it sliced, grated or as individually packed cheese sticks, you can save about $5 a kilo (at least) by buying it as a block and doing the slicing, cutting or grating yourself. Get the kids used to blocks or batons of cheese in their lunchbox rather than as pre-packaged cheese sticks. Saves on packaging too.
How many times do you pick up a six-pack of fruit yoghurt where at least one flavour stays uneaten? Make your own by buying Greek yoghurt in bulk and mix with vanilla and a bit of icing sugar, grated apple and cinnamon, or any frozen berries, mango or banana you already have in the freezer. Kids can choose their favourite flavours, and you control the ingredients. See our flavour your own yoghurt recipes here.
Juice and soft drink
Lose the juice from the weekly shop. It is expensive and full of sugar without much fibre. Soft drink may be cheap, but again no good for you or your teeth. Save by not buying it regularly. Stick to milk and water (it’s free) and eat whole fruit. Your teeth and your sugar levels will thank you.
There is so much more value in wholegrain cereal than flavoured cereal. You get twice the weight of cereal in a standard family-sized box, for about a third of the cost by weight of its sweetened alternatives. They are also more filling, so the kids will last longer without the need for more food.
Make your own marinades
Pre-marinated meat is more expensive than buying plain meat. If you make your own simple marinades, you can save money and control the sugar and salt content yourself. Most homemade marinade recipes only have a few ingredients but are still loaded with flavour. Try an easy Indian chicken marinade with plain yoghurt, garam masala, and ground turmeric and coriander, or Portuguese chicken marinade.
Use cheaper cuts of meat
Having some great recipes that use gravy beef or chuck steak rather than eye fillet and other expensive cuts can make meat more affordable. Look for tasty meals that use chicken mince, turkey mince, pork mince, lamb mince, or veal and pork mince as a way to use meat in your diet. Stores are practically giving away chicken drumsticks now so think about recipes with chicken on the bone that you can substitute them in. Try new recipes like San choy bau (on the app), Pork larb, or Stir fry mince with XO sauce.
Swap a meat meal for vegetarian food
Cutting meat or fish out of at least one meal a week is a sure-fire way to save. Try tasty bean quesadillas, vegetarian fried rice, chick pea curry or a vegetarian stir fry. The key is to ensure it is tasty enough that the kids don’t miss the meat from the plate.
Homemade muesli bars and snacks
Rolled oats are so cheap they are almost free. So whipping up your own muesli bars with a few simple ingredients is a great way to save some money and reduce food packaging. You can freeze them in bar sized portions and simply pop one in the lunchbox that morning – they will defrost before morning snack time. Same goes for most snack food in the lunchbox – it is generally way cheaper to make than buy, and freezing in bulk will save you money.
Your supermarket’s homebrand is a good alternative for saving on standard items such as flour, sugar and other pantry staples. Try each product out first in small amounts to ensure it doesn’t affect the taste or your cooking. The difference can add up over the course of the year.
Eat real food
As a rule of thumb, cooking from scratch will save you in both the short and long term. Better for the budget and your health. Have a good repertoire of tasty everyday meals made from ingredients you recognise so you don’t reach for too many takeaway meals, expensive pre-made food from the supermarket or end up dining out due to lack of ingredients. A meal plan is the key to ensure you have the ingredients at home to cook great meals from scratch.
The savings are in the bank.
Plan your meals to save on your shopping. Search online for useful planners or buy the PlanBuyCook meal planning app for iPhone and iPad from the App Store for $5.99.
Jen and Gaby from meal planning app PlanBuyCook publish regular recipes and meal planning tips and hints at planbuycook.com.au.