A good way to lower your monthly spending is by trying to cut your grocery bill because buying food and other groceries can take a large chunk of your budget. Luckily it is a variable cost that can be reduced. For the last few months my boyfriend and I are trying to reduce the amount we spend on food, care products and household products. We used to spend around 400€ a month and we are trying to get it to 300€ a month, and so far it seems to be working.
I collected several tips for spending less money in the supermarket:
- Never go shopping while hungry. When you are hungry you tend to buy more food and greasy unhealthy snacks. It sometimes happens that I’m in the store with an empty stomach, and then I really notice the snacks stacking up in the shopping cart (which is bad for both my wallet and my weight).
- Make a list of the things you need and stick to it. This will help to avoid impulse purchases.
- Also try to make the list in order of the organisation of the store (for example, vegetables and fruit are aisle 1, cheese aisle 2, drinks aisle 3 … ). This way you can walk through the store without going back and forth between the different aisles. It will save you time and you will be less tempted to take some extra chips or snacks when you pass that aisle for the third or fourth time.
- Before going to the store, make a week menu and look what you already have and what you need to buy and put in on your list. It’s really handy because then you have food for a week, you don’t have to ask yourself every evening what to cook, and you avoid going last minute to (maybe more expensive) stores to buy the ingredients you need to cook a meal. This also eliminates freewheeling at the store and will keep your weekly menu healthier, cheaper and more diverse then if you have to decide what to eat all week when you are in the store.
- Check the weekly promotions, however don’t be blinded by them. Only buy the things that you know you eat or use.
- Try to buy season fruit and vegetables. Out of season vegetables or fruit tend to be more expensive.
- See if you can replace brand products in cheaper brands. Most of the time (however not all the time, it depends on the products), the cheaper version tastes as good or is as healthy as the expensive brand. Also know that stores always put ‘expensive’ brands on eye level, and the cheaper brands at the lower levels of the shelves.
- Sometimes it can be profitable to buy different things in different stores. However you must see for yourself whether the costs of driving to the different stores doesn’t become higher than the amount of money you win by buying cheaper things in the different stores. (Don’t forget you waste a lot of time as well).
- Size matters. Take the size and quantity of products into accounts and buy accordingly to your needs. My boyfriend and I eat a lot of minced meat in spaghetti and other dishes. So we always buy a large amount of minced meat and freeze different portions. The maxi pack of minced meat is a lot cheaper (10% reduction). I also buy a huge bottle of provincial herbs. We use these herbs in a lot of dishes so its cheaper to buy a big bottle with which we can refill a smaller bottle. Another example is soda. We rarely drink it so we buy it in cans. Cans are maybe more expense than a bottle, but we drink it so rarely that its cheaper (since we can never finish a bottle before it’s lost all the bubbles), so we also don’t have to throw any away.
- Compare prices of different products/brands. If you compare the price, look at the price per kilo. So look at the relative price, not the absolute price.
And for good measure 2 extra tips:
- Keep your receipt. By keeping you receipts you can keep track your monthly spending on groceries, and you can also compare prices. For example, if you see that a certain product that you normally buy is in promotion, you can check how much you paid last time. Maybe the store says it’s in promotion, but it’s possible that they first raised the price. If you really want to create a system you can enter these things in an excel file, making them easier to track.
- Bring your own (re-usable) bag to the store. In Belgium (and I think in a lot of countries in Europe) most of the stores ask some money for a plastic bag so it’s better for your wallet (and also the environment) to take your own bag.
These are some general tips that my boyfriend and I know and try to follow. I have the feeling that they really help use to lower our grocery bill. What do you think of these tips? Do any of you have any other tips? Feel free to share!
A few days ago I discovered that I still have some chocolate figurines from a few months ago from St. Nicholas day [Or in Dutch ‘Sinterklaas’]. The chocolate is still good to eat, but we have so much chocolate at home (some still from St. Nicholas day, a lot from Easter … ) that it’s becoming a bit too much :). So I thought it would be a good idea to make something with a few figurines before they get bad (although chocolate doesn’t get bad that fast).
I don’t know if many of you know ‘Sinterklaas’ and celebrate st. Nicholas day on the 6th of December. Here in Belgium, on the 5th of December children put a shoe under the fire place (or just a place in the house) and during the night St. Nicholas passes by (or their parents ;)) and puts candy and presents in the shoes of the children that have been good throughout the year. It’s a bit like Santa Claus at Christmas in the US. Even though my boyfriend and I have gotten a bit too old for it, we still received a lot of chocolate from our parents. So much that there still is some left (and we eat a lot of chocolate).
I decided to make a chocolate cake with some figurines. Cake is always a good dessert, and it’s even better when it’s chocolate cake. My favourite cake is chocolate cake with raisins and nuts that my grandmother always makes. But my cooking skills haven’t gotten to that level yet so I kept it easy.
Recipe: ‘Sinterklaas’ cake
- 200gr butter
- 100gr sugar
- 1 bag of vanilla sugar
- 300gr flour
- 4 eggs
- 100gr of dark chocolate or as I did it dark chocolate figurines 🙂 (I don’t know whether milk chocolate also would be tasty).
To make the cake, melt the butter and add the sugar, vanilla sugar and egg yolks. Then add the flower (it’s best to sieve it first). Whip the egg whites until it’s foamy and add it to the rest. Then add the melted chocolate (I’m sorry ‘Sinterklaas’ for melting you).
To whip the egg white foamy I used a hand mixer that I discovered a few months ago in the Ikea. Before I had the hand mixer I used a fork to do it. But it always took me a long time and it was never very foamy. Now, with the hand mixer it’s super easy to do. It works as well as a normal mixer but you don’t need electricity. (It’s the same as our lawnmower. I get more and more fascinated by such tools that don’t need electricity or gas… )
When the dough is finished, put it in a cake mold and let it bake in the oven for about 45 minutes on 180 degrees. Then you have a super tasty ‘Sinterklaas’ cake :).
Do any of you often have left over chocolate? And do you make something with the left over figurines? Let me know so I can try it for myself so our excess chocolate doesn’t go to waste.
Did you know that you can freeze bananas? Most of you probabily allready knew. Until a year ago I however had no idea. When I saw that my bananas were over ripe, I ate them (even when I was not really in the mood) or even threw them away. Then I discovered that you can put them in the freezer which turned out to be super convenient when I got the urge for a smoothie or milkshake.
Freezing bananas is very easy:
- Step 1: peel the banana
- Step 2: slice the banana is pieces
- Step 3: put the pieces in an airtight bag or a plastic container
- Step 4: put the bag or container in the freezer
That’s how I do it. If you prefer, you can also leave the banana in one or two big pieces, or you can even leave the peel on and put the banana entirely in the freezer. If you leave the peel on you can afterwards easily peel the (frozen) banana by shortly holding it under running water.
Now what can you do with frozen bananas? There so many things that you can make with them. I prefer to use them for making smoothies and milkshake. Here are two super easy and super tasty recipies that I often make.
Recipe 1: **tasty-banana-smoothie**
- Orange juice (since I only use it for smoothies I use a very cheap brand)
- Frozen bananas (one or two, depends on your own taste)
- Poor a cup of orange juice in the blender
- Add the frozen bananas
- Blend until smooth
- Add some extra orange juice depending on your own taste
- Enjoy your tasty-banana-smoothie
Recipe 2: **sweet-banana-chocolate-milkshake**
- ‘Dame blanche’ ice cream
- Frozen bananans (one or two, again, it depends on your own taste)
- Maple syrup (for the sweet tooths)
- Scoop three spoons of ice cream in the blender
- Add the frozen bananas and a bit milk
- Blend until smooth
- Add a teaspoon of maple syrup
- Enjoy an uber-super-duber-tasty sweet-banana-chocolate-milkshake
These are two very easy recipes that I often make. It’s nice because they only take a few minutes to make and they are super tasty. And, best of all, you can make them whenever you want if you have some bananas in the freezer.
If you make the smoothie or milkshake, be sure to rinse the blender immediately afterwards. Otherwise, if you leave it for a few hours, it will be much harder to clean.
I hope you all enjoy the banana smoothie and milkshake as much as my boyfriend and me do!