Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce

Slash your grocery bill by living sustainably

$100 Budget 27/6

Posted by on Jun 26, 2009

Photo by Robert CharlesTo survive in modern times, we need to adapt to change.

Lately, with recessions  and so forth, this means getting out of  your comfort zone on an almost  continuous basis, which is tiresome,  particularly for no-longer-young-folk who  are happily stuck in their ways. But how  secure is your future?

The $100 a week grocery budget has been a great tool for me to fight back against the recession and see some cash build up in my bank account where no cash lingered before. Although for me the budget was borne from lack of funds, that may not be the case for all of us. What I am trying to say is that the concept of paying more attention to how much money is going out in grocery bills applies to all of us, rich and poor. Money wasted on unnecessarily expensive packaged products is better off in your own pocket, no matter who you are.

Here are some reasons I’ve heard why various people resist cutting back on grocery spending:

We’ve got plenty of money, so we don’t need to.

I have a teenage son.

My husband will have a fit.

My wife won’t do it.

I work, so I don’t have time.

The facts are that we don’t like change and so we dig our heels in. Here’s a hint: recognise that you are likely to be resistant to changing your spending habits. Set a lower budget and be prepared to feel uncomfortable in the beginning. Accept the feeling of anxiety but resist the temptation to return to your old ways. Look forward to the day where you feel confident using your new knowledge and skills, you’ve integrated the lower budget into your lifestyle and are enjoying feelings of familiarity, mastery and accomplishment. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

And this week, a camera crew came to visit from TV3. Watch out for me on Monday night on Campbell Live at 7pm.

Next week: Do you really know how much things cost?

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$100 Budget 20/6

Posted by on Jun 20, 2009

Instead of being frittered away on  unnecessary grocery items, my  hard-earned cash is staying in  my pocket. Here’s an example of how to trim your grocery bill  down without missing out on  much. Imagine it’s one of those  expensive weeks where  everything you need has run out  at once. Here are some actual  prices of middle-of-the-range  items randomly selected in my  local supermarket: Ordinary shopping list:

Loo paper 12 rolls, $7.99

Dishwashing liquid 1litre, $3.79

Laundry powder 1kg, $7.99

Spray cleaner, 1 litre $5.29

Toothpaste Max White, $5.59

Deodorant, $5.69

Mouthwash, $11.89

Shampoo, $7.99

Conditioner, $7.99

Moisturiser, $12.26

Bread – 10 @ $3.70, $37

Pet food rolls 3 @ $7 $21

Total: $134.47

Save money shopping list:

Loo paper 12 rolls Homebrand, $4.58

Dishwashing liquid 1 litre, home-made, $0.43

Laundry powder 1kg, home- made, $2.66

Spray cleaner 1 litre, home- made, $0.06

Toothpaste Yuk White, home- made, $0.68

Deodorant, home-made, $0.06

Mouthwash, home-made, $0.10

Shampoo, home-made, $0.45

Conditioner, home-made, $0.15

Moisturiser, home-made, $2.50

Bread – 10 Homebrand @ $1.49, $14.90

Pet food rolls at Matador Fresh (best deal in town) 5 for $10 $10

Total $36.57

I hear you shriek: I haven’t got time to make all those things myself. How gross, washing hair with baking soda. I haven’t got time to go to Matador Fresh to get cheap pet food and that Homebrand bread tastes terrible.

Well, it only took about five minutes to make all that stuff, my hair looks and feels better with baking soda than ever before, I get some great deals at Matador Fresh, not just on pet food, I like Homebrand bread and I’ve still got $60 left to spend on food.

Classes on making your own cleaning products at home are now running every Tuesday at 7pm or I will come demonstrate to groups of 10 or more people at your venue.

Just look at the money you can save.

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$100 Budget 16/5

Posted by on May 16, 2009

There you have it: A fortnight’s worth of groceries for less than $200.

This can be achieved week in, week out, but some skill and a small amount of shopping around is required.

If you are affected by brand snobbery, this type of budget may prove beyond your reach. The products listed here are mostly Home Brand and sourced with much backstrain from the lowest, most unpopular shelves in the supermarket.

The products are not all from the one shop, either. Four local outlets, I have discovered, consistently deliver the lowest prices for certain things. The time taken to shop around between Countdown, Matador Meats, Spudz and The Kiwi Butcher is minimal and well worth the effort.

The astute home executive will have already noticed the absence of milk and cleaning products from the list. Up until now, I was lucky enough to meet the family milk requirements directly from the cow – one of the few perks of a sharemilking job. Now that I have dried my cows off, I will have to factor at least 6 litres of milk into the budget – more on that next week.

In my quest to save my money, I have found that for minimal outlay, an absolute fraction of what has been spent/wasted previously, I can make my own soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, washing powder, dishwashing liquid, window cleaner and more. If you are interested in more detail on practical, environmentally friendly, everyday household products made quickly and easily at home, saving literally thousands of dollars, contact me via the Taranaki Daily News and I will share my secrets, or you can wait and read about them in upcoming columns.

Next week: The price of milk

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$100 Budget 28/3

Posted by on Mar 28, 2009

Sometimes I feel like I live in a nursery rhyme:

Old Mother Hubbard

Went to the cupboard,

To give the poor dog a bone:

When she came there,

The cupboard was bare,

And so the poor dog had none.

Don’t call the SPCA, but our pets are being affected by the credit crunch. Because the humans are economising, the scraps, which made up a considerable amount of the dog, goat and chicken’s diets, are no longer being wasted. It’s not that the girls and I are reduced to eating scraps – although Danni and I had a close eye on Stevie’s apple core the other day – it’s just that a weekly grocery budget of $100 means we can no longer afford to throw too much away. These days, our meals are more carefully planned and the leftovers are eaten the next day instead of being left to fester. Between you and me, I confess, I am totally ashamed of my wastage and excesses of the past. I was a greedy pig.

So far the cats’ diets remain unchanged. I am spending approximately $17 for 3kg of dry feed for them ($5.70/kg) and plan to source cheaper brands and alternatives. A 3kg bag lasts Yoda and Millie about two weeks (or 60c each a day).

I was blissfully unaware of how much dog roll costs. My pre- budget attitude to grocery shopping was, if I want it, I’ll have it – who cares how much it costs, so I never looked at the prices. Now I am forced to pay attention. Dog roll at the supermarket can cost over $7. A similar product at the farm supplies shop is $5.50. The cheapest dog-roll I have found so far cost $2.50 at the butcher’s. The dog likes them all equally. One dog roll lasts Kiedis about a week (or 42c a day). He’s surprisingly cheaper than the cats.

Deduct the animal food off the weekly spend and it leaves $88.50 for humans (or $4.21 each a day). It doesn’t sound like much, but at least it works out more than the daily pet allowance.

Next Week: How $100 a week is affecting our family.

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$100 Budget 23/3

Posted by on Mar 23, 2009

Slapped cents-less by the global recession, we’re counting on a strict weekly food budget to bring us back to our economic senses. In the holidays, our $100 worth of groceries easily lasted a week, making our goal of buying a rental investment property next year look possible. Then something happened: it was back to school.

“What can we take for lunch, Mum?” was the question of the week.

Staple lunchbox favourites of biscuits, chippies and yoghurts are now an expensive luxury. A pow-wow decided that a can of fruit is a healthy, easy and economic food item to plan lunch around. Just don’t forget the can opener. I thought the girls might get mocked at school for their tin of peaches, but apparently, it’s catching on.

But food wasn’t the only problem. Can you relate to the horror of the extensive, expensive school stationery list, an expense multiplied by the number of students you are buying for? Even before the budget, I dreaded both the boring hunt around the stationery shop to locate the 3B1 notebook or the 1E8 (7mm) maths book and the ensuing large bill. Strictly speaking, the back-to- school stationery items are not officially included in the grocery budget, but every penny counts.

I was intrigued when Danni, 16, and Stevie, 11, announced they had reduced the stationery lists to mere shadows of their former selves by recycling items barely used from previous years. They sifted through the art cupboard’s pens, pencils, half-used books and drawing supplies. The remaining stationery requirements became so minimal that I was able to throw them in the supermarket trolley and still remain well under budget for the week. Who knew an exercise book could be purchased for 29 cents? The grand total expenditure for a year 7 and a year 12 student was $5.11. It’s amazing what you can do if you try.

Next week: How our pets are faring on $100 a week.

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$100 Budget 14/3

Posted by on Mar 14, 2009

Surviving on a grocery budget of $100 a week while keeping the family happy, healthy and clean at both ends is my challenge.

A family meeting ascertained our staple list of grocery items. Brainstorming saw pasta, tuna, apples, veges (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, avocados and capsicum), bread, butter, cheese, tinned fruit and meat on the list. Milk is not listed – sharemilkers can pinch that from the vat, which I hope will deter me from popping out to the shops for the things that invariably accompany the milk purchase.

Groceries don’t stop at food.

Toilet paper is an obvious necessity, cosmetics and bathroom, laundry and kitchen cleaning products are unavoidable purchases. At this early stage of budgeting, we have supplies of half- finished cleaning products, so we’ll finish then and then replenish the supply with a minimum of low-cost replacements.

I plan to locate the cheapest products available using the newspaper and the internet. Unfortunately, the amount of time I can spend on this is limited. If you know of any fantastic special deals, particularly on cleaning products, please contact the paper and let me know. The Plan:

Avoid shops.

Stick to a list.

If you can’t afford it, do without! Buy bargains.

I don’t want to fall victim to harsh economic times, so it is important for me to economise. My strict grocery budget allows annual savings in excess of $10,000. That is money that previously went down our throats or festered in the fridge for a fortnight before being binned. I hope this disciplined approach to household spending results in a lifetime of better habits. If I live till 82, that’s $400,000 – even if I keep it under the mattress. With this budget, I have nothing to lose – except maybe some extra weight!

Next Week in Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce: Back to School. How we amazingly got food, filled two school stationery orders and remained under the $100 budget.

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