Top Tips for Food Budgeting

This week I am going to be featured on the NZ TV ONE program Whanau Living with the gorgeous Stacey Morrison.  She and I chatted a lot as we had our make up done and discussed being busy Mums who are trying to work and hold it all together – and sometimes not achieving it!  We also discussed keeping things in the home simple and economical.  I came up with a couple of recipes for the show that definitely fit the brief – and they are firm favourites from our family home too.  So make sure you check out the show on the 19th Feb on TVONE

In my home we are very blessed to not be consistently worried about where our next meal may come from.  However, there are times I stop and realise we need to be budgeting and sensible in the way we shop for food.  The grocery bill can get out of control very quickly if you let it. I have sat down and really thought through the natural ways I try to reign in when we need to.  This doesn’t mean that I can control my husband or the kids who can take off to the supermarket with a list and come home with half of it missing and a whole heap of things I WOULD NEVER BUY!!!

But – from my perspective – without a doubt – the crucial points are

  • Plan ahead – for the week – to cut out constant need to return to the shops and to be sure you buy just what you need and are going to eat
  • Cook from scratch – getting organised in the kitchen and grabbing a few moments as you chat to your kids, for example, to make a 5 minute muesli slice, will save you invaluable times + keep your costs right down.  Homemade pasta sauces, home-made baking; eating fresh……..all key pointers for being a little more frugal


Here are my TOP 10 TIPS to a Frugal Way to plan out your week in the kitchen

  • Always, always, make a list before you go to the supermarket.  If you love apps then use ANYLIST which I find invaluable for keeping things sorted. 
  • Check your pantry before you shop and start to plan meals around what is already there.
  • Plan your menu according to the seasons – this will ensure you are buying fresh and cost effective fresh produce at all times.
  • You may need to shop at different places to get the best prices. You will need to weigh up whether this is necessary:  time vs travel vs money equation !
  • Make sure when you buy items such as cream, sour cream or other perishables for a recipe that you can use them all, or use them up in another recipe.  For example, sour cream may be needed to go with a family taco meal – and the left overs can be used when you bake a batch of muffins or scones for a lunchbox.  Too often I find myself throwing out little bits of things in the bottoms of containers that could/should have been used.
  • Buy a whole chicken and break it up yourself at home.  You can use all of it, including the bones for stock.  Your butcher will talk you through this if you need guidance – without a doubt it is a much more economical way of shopping.
  • If you spot something really great on special then grab it – throw it in the freezer and then add it to the following week’s meal plan!  At really good gourmet shops you will find they mark down prices a few days before the use by date to stand by their guarantee of only selling fresh.  This is a great opportunity to buy better quality at a reduced price.
  • Bake from scratch – it is truly the only way – you need to cut the purchased cookies, juices, chips and other packaged food off the shopping list. Live as much as you can on vegetables, pulses, grains and seasonal fruits.  It’s healthier anyway!
  • Cook double quantities and freeze what’s left for days when you are running late (or the kids can help by pulling out something and popping it in the oven for you)
  • If you have the room, try to grow a few veges.  I am not brilliant at this but this year we have saved a heap by having plenty of tomatoes outside the kitchen window.  I also strongly encourage you to grow your own herbs – this way they are always handy for snipping and you can cut just the amount you need.


Things I always have in the pantry/fridge


Ok – so this list may not produce gourmet meals, but with a touch of fresh vegetable you could turn these ingredients into some pretty decent family meals in leaner times 🙂

Phew – that was a long list, and as I wrote it all down I realise that it is a super reminder to myself to take more of these actions in my own weekly planning!

If you have any other tips?  Please share in the comments

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2 thoughts on “Top Tips for Food Budgeting

  1. I am an ex kiwi living in Canada, and love NZ food and recipes.

    Your spinach pie is delicious.

    Can you sign me up for new posts Thank you

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