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Frugality and Food – The Grocery Strategy

August 28, 2018


It’s time to tackle another big area of spending – food!

Hopefully we can help cut some fat in this area, providing a boost to your savings rate.  And as with our spending as a whole, the lower it is, the less investments we need and the sooner we can become financially independent.

Since frugal folks tend to spend a bit more time at home versus their restaurant hopping peers, groceries are an important topic to cover.  Especially because what we eat has a strong bearing on how healthy we are and how we feel too.

So let’s get stuck in…

 

Food is not expensive!

In the beginning, we were spending around $150-$180 per week on food for 2 people.  So my belief was that food is indeed, expensive.

But now we spend half that amount!  And this includes most of our dog’s food.

Despite the regular moaning from the media, grocery prices have been declining for a number of years now.

For example, a Wesfarmers (owner of Coles) presentation in June, saw the company tell shareholders:

“Coles continues to invest in price, (with) over 8 consecutive years of price deflation”.

The supermarket price-war is real.  And it hasn’t gone away yet.  In fact, with Aldi expanding and the prospect of its German rival Kaufland coming, food prices may even fall a little further.  Not to mention if Amazon gets into the grocery business like it has in the US.

So, the ever-escalating cost of food is somewhat of a myth.  Just like the cost of living.

Then comes the next complaint…

 

Healthy is expensive

This deserves an entire post in itself, and I’ve noted it down for a future article.

Look, it can be.  As with everything, things can cost as much we’re willing to spend.  But to say there’s no way to eat a reasonably healthy diet without it crushing our savings rate, sounds like an excuse to me.

Good nutrition doesn’t have to consist of 100g punnets of blueberries for $6, pre-packed salads for $5.50 and superfood snack-bars at $4 each.

By the way, the superfood marketing trick, is just that.  We seem to have an unrelenting urge for the new, the magical, and the one thing to cure our ails.  To make us healthy, attractive and trendy all at the same time.

Don’t bother, it’s nonsense!  Forget the fancy pre-packed rubbish.  Instead, spend your money on real, whole foods that are just as filled with nutrition, just a little less exotic because we’ve known about them for 100 years.

OK, on to some strategy…

 

Planning

Without some type of food plan or rough idea what you’ll eat during the week, your grocery costs are destined to blow out.

Day-to-day shopping is not only a waste of time, but it creates extra driving, short-term thinking and impulsive unhealthy food choices.

It also means you lean towards the lazy options of pre-packed food, even ready-made food which is going to cost you an arm and a leg, while likely lacking in nutrition too.

So make a rough food plan for what you’ll eat during the week.  Just a few good ideas for bulk dinners will do.  Be repetitive.

The more you can plan out your meals for the week, the better choices you’re going to make.  It’ll cost less.  It’s healthier.  And you’ll feel better for it.  It’s also one less thing to think about.  Job done!

 

Preparing

Of course, because you’re planning these meals, you’ll be cooking them too!

And now that we’re getting organised and efficient, here’s where it comes together.

I really mean prepare your own food.  Dice the veggies.  Chop the salad.  Cut the meat.  Whatever it is.  You’re now getting paid to be a chef!

Don’t believe me?

Think about it this way.  By buying ingredients that’s already cut, sliced and diced, you end up paying quite a bit extra for it.  But chopping it yourself means a lower grocery bill and more money in the bank.

See, you’re getting paid to prepare your own food!

It still blows me away if I see people paying a premium for things already cut up.  Are you joking me?  Unless you don’t have arms, this is ridiculous.

I’m not buying the “I don’t have time” argument.  Rubbish!  Especially considering Aussies still watch an average of 17.5 hours of TV content per week.

Your health is worth spending time on.  So a little extra effort in the area of food will pay dividends, and we know how nice dividends are 😉

 

Shopping

So far, we’re cooking and preparing our own food.  The next layer of efficiency is getting those ingredients in a cost-effective way.

One of the best ways to do that is measuring cost per kilo, per gram and per litre.  This is probably the next best habit of getting into at the shops.

Smaller items and packets may look cute and also carry a small price tag.  But when measured on a ‘per gram’ basis, the costs are often obscene!

You know those tiny figures at the bottom of price tags – ‘$0.72 per 100g’.  Use these as your guide.

Whether it’s coffee, spices, veggies, it doesn’t matter.  Rather than look for the lowest total price, look for the best value.  That’s the difference between being cheap and frugality.

The frugal shopper will happily pay more overall for a larger quantity today, based on saving more over the longer term.  

The cheap shopper will simply go for the lowest total cost item, regardless of quality or value, making a short-term choice, based solely on the amount they need today.

Buying in bulk where possible is often a good way to get the best value ‘per kilo’ and ‘per gram’.

And buying a week’s worth of food allows you to plan better and cook in bulk.  For us, we tend to cook up big meals that is enough for 2-3 days.  This saves time, automates your nutrition and reduces power and gas costs.

 

Name-brand vs Store-brand

For most people, they’ll buy at least a certain amount of home-brand/store-branded products.  But for some products, they may be loyal to a premium brand out of habit, or tried the store-brand and been disappointed.

All I can say here is, try again.  I’m serious.

Ten or fifteen years ago, store-branded products left much to be desired.  In short, they were pretty crap.  But in recent times, stores have upped their game and really overhauled their own-brand products.

We probably used to buy around half name-brand items and half store-brand.  Now I’d say it’s more like 80% or more, store-branded stuff.

Slowly we started trying the store-branded products and for the majority of things, there’s little difference in quality or taste, yet still a large difference in price.  We’re still regularly trying store-branded items as they get rolled out and have been pleasantly surprised on a regular basis.

Keep in mind, Coles and Woolies also have a policy that if for any reason you don’t like their own products, just take it back for a full refund.  And Aldi’s products tend to be very good, some of which they’ve even won awards for.

So there’s really nothing to lose and large savings to gain!

The stores don’t actually make their own products anyway – they outsource them.  This means that quite often, the name-brand stuff and the store-branded stuff are made in the same factory!

 

Specials and stocking up

Surely everyone can agree that when something you buy is on special, you buy more of it, right?

Well, I hope so!

Usually, a good approach is stock up as much as you think will last you until the next time the item goes on special.  These things tend to be somewhat predictable, as you may have noticed.

That’s because it can make a huge difference to the overall cost of your groceries.  And it’s something I take seriously.

How seriously?

Well, here’s a little story and you be the judge…

Since we do most of our shopping at Coles, we have a flybuys card and are regularly receiving offers by email.

Sometimes the offer will be like this:  Spend $70 per week for 4 weeks at Coles and get 10,000 bonus points.

Now for those unaware, each 2,000 points can be redeemed for $10 off your shopping at Coles (or certain other shops).  So this offer is essentially $50 cash for spending $280 on groceries.  Pretty good.  But it gets better.

Because we both signed up, we each get similar deals.  So double it.  Spend $140 a week for 4 weeks and get 20,000 points, worth $100.

But our shopping at Coles is probably only half that each week, since we get a bit of stuff from Aldi too.  So what to do?

Well, it’s easy.  All you do is bring forward your future purchases.  Essentially, anything that stores well and you normally pay full price for anyway – just buy multiples of it.

What’s the limit?  Whatever you can store in your house for as long as the food or products will keep!

This is what we did recently, buying $560 worth of groceries in a few weeks to get $100 flybuys dollars for future groceries!

As evidence of how stocked up we are, here’s what we’re storing currently…

— 56 cans of sardines (for our dog)
— 24 cans of beans (cannelini, kidney and chickpeas)
— 10 bags of frozen veg (broccoli, peas, corn, baby green beans)
— 7 bags of frozen fruit (blueberries, mango, strawberries)
— 4 jars of coffee
— 8 tubs of butter/spread
— 17 packets of peanuts
— 4 packets of all muesli supplies (oats, shredded coconut, pepitas, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, dried dates)
— 85 rolls of toilet paper

I could go on.  But these are the best examples.  Haha yes, I’m that guy!

These are all examples of food that we normally pay full price for.  So all we’ve done is bring forward the purchases without increasing the cost.  And now we’ve got $100 of future grocery money!

For other foods that are still much better value at Aldi, we’ll typically ride our bikes there once a week and grab what we can.

We’ve been gaming this system for quite a few months now.  Rather than lower prices further, it seems that the likes of Coles and Woolies are trying to lure us in with loyalty programs like this.

 

Do the old switcheroo

Another strategy is to simply substitute or switch to foods that are similar yet offer better value.

Things like frozen berries vs fresh.  Lower priced cuts of meat.  Peanuts vs almonds.  Apples and oranges instead of mangos (for non-tropical states).  And a house deposit instead of avocados.  Haha just kidding with that one, avocados to eat at home are fine.  But be careful, in many places they’re still stupidly priced.

Often we’ve found frozen fruit and veg to be just as fresh, if not better than the fresh stuff.  Typically it’s frozen at a stage of freshness anyway, whereas the store stuff might be a bit old.

To boost savings, try to change your habits over time by moving to lower-cost foods to get roughly the same taste and nutrition.

 

Eat less meat and more veg

This is a contentious issue.  Some people will be unwilling to alter their meat consumption.

We used to be quite heavy meat-eaters, myself especially.  And I was damn sure not looking to make any changes.  But over the last couple of years, we did change our diet to focus more on other foods.

The primary reason for this was seeing a few documentaries (which I can’t remember now) on where our food comes from.  And also doing further research on farming practices and the way animals are treated (hint: appallingly).  Being an animal lover, it was hard to watch and although I tried to shrug it off, eventually it really got to me.

I couldn’t ignore what I’d seen anymore.  And after becoming more interested in health, it was clear, the longest living people tend to eat a plant-based diet with very little animal products.

Anyway, it wasn’t an overnight change.

We first tried vegetarian meals – say a curry with beans or tofu for protein, instead of meat.  I was surprised that it was just a different texture, but tasted the same.  Then I realised, it’s how you flavour food that makes it taste good or not!

Combine these new outlooks with the realisation that eating less meat is massively better for the environment and I became compelled to push on and feel good with the changes.

Also, while not given a single thought at the time, it ended up slashing our grocery bill!

So if for no other reason, consider doing one vegetarian meal per week.  Then try one day per week.  And see how you go from there.

Now we eat a mostly vegan diet, and our optimised grocery bill went from around $120 per week, to around $80 per week.  That actually surprised me.  So it’s probably fair to call this our unfair advantage!

We also feel better about the food we eat and have more energy in general.

I don’t want to bang on about this too much.  But it’s been such a great choice from lots of angles, so I felt compelled to share.

 

What do we eat?

Amusingly, when people learn you don’t eat meat, the first question is “well, what do you eat?”.

Basically everything else, is the answer!  But what they really mean is, what do you substitute for meat in dishes and how do meals still taste good?

What does a plain boiled chicken breast taste?  Well, not much really.  It’s when you start adding other things, that stuff starts tasting good.

For protein in curries, stir-fry’s and other dishes, we use beans, lentils or tofu as the protein source.  And it works pretty well, absorbing all that flavour from spices, seasonings, oils and sauces.

Here’s roughly what a day of food looks like for us…

— Morning: A nice, strong coffee.  I use a french-press.
— Mid-morning:  Home-made muesli with the ingredients from earlier and soy milk (the packet muesli is far too sweet for our liking).
— Early afternoon:  Salad with peanuts or home-made vegetable soup (cooked in bulk of course) with greens and herbs from the garden.
— Late afternoon:  Fruit smoothie with soy milk, banana, berries and protein powder.
— Dinner:  Lentil/Bean/Tofu Curry with vegetables, herbs, spices.
— Snacks:  Other fruit.  Nuts.  Home-baked sweets that we shouldn’t be eating!

That all looks pretty healthy.  Plenty of vitamins, minerals and protein.  But don’t get me wrong, we do eat some junk too!

One of my favourite meals is a stacked plate of fried hash browns and baked beans on a Saturday morning.  And I also devour toast with honey or jam on the weekends, alongside my caffeine fix.

Admittedly we now have the luxury of spending a little more time on preparing food than before we retired.  While we were still at work, we’d likely have 1 less meal per day, but bigger serves, or we’d double up and eat leftovers for lunch.

I’m quite the creature of habit so I have no issue with eating the same stuff regularly.  Actually I enjoy it!

All we need is a good list of dishes to rotate through for dinners, with breakfast and lunch mostly on auto-pilot.

 

Try delivery

This is one of our extremely un-frugal habits.  We mostly get our weekly shop delivered these days.  And I actually think it can save you money.  Hear me out…

I hate going to the shops.  It’s always busy, there’s too many bright lights and people and noise – it’s just not fun anymore.  So we tried delivery which is $4 with Coles and it’s been great.

Prices are exactly the same and there’s never been a mistake with our orders.

It saves us around 1.5 hours per week, cuts down car use and avoids an unpleasant experience.

We also tend to buy only what we need, rather than what we see and then think we need.  In short, we have a list, and with a few taps it’s all ordered.  No unnecessary extras!

I recommend trying this out, if delivery costs are low in your area.  Do it right and you’ll come out ahead.

The time saved can be spent on planning and preparing healthy meals with whole foods, instead of short-cutting nutrition or paying a premium on the pre-cut, pre-packed stuff to save time.

 

Grow your own

If you have the space or the interest, you can try growing your own food too.

Start off with the simple stuff like a few herbs or greens.  This stuff alone can save you a surprising amount, as detailed well in this post by Pat the shuffler.

Then you can move on to small fruit trees or a little veggie patch and scale up from there.

Although it’s sometimes not cheap (feels like we’re always going to Bunnings), the main benefits are fresh produce, a connection with nature, and a productive hobby that can be cost neutral, while providing exercise and a happiness boost.

 

Adding it up

As stated earlier, our cost of food has essentially been cut by 50%.  Half the benefit came from optimisation, and the rest from the diet change.

In dollar terms, this has translated to savings of around $80 per week.  Invested at a return of 8% per annum, means we’re around $60,000 richer after 10 years.

It also means that because our expenses are $4000 lower each year, we then needed $80,000 less in investments to retire.

So a few tweaks here and there, do make a difference.  And with the average household spending around $150 a week on food, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

 

Final thoughts on frugality and food

This was a monster of a post, because clearly there’s many ways to optimise this category of spending.

And it’s how you approach these things that makes all the difference.

Whether you decide that it’s too hard and it’s another one of life’s categories that is doomed to be expensive.

Or whether you seek out the challenge of gaming the system.  Thinking how to get the most nutrition for the lowest cost, to further fuel your growing pile of investments.

Often the answer to that is plant-based eating with some protein content.

Now it’s your turn!

Remember, this area deserves special attention.  So get started putting some frugal food habits into place, and reap the rewards of increasing health and expanding wealth, at the same time!


I’ll leave you with a parable that you may or may not have heard before.  And think about how well this fits with frugality and financial independence…

The Monk and the Minister

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.  One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet.  As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk.  Seeking to help, he says:

“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies:

“If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.”

42 Comments

42 Replies to “Frugality and Food – The Grocery Strategy”

  1. Hi Dave,

    If you’re not keen on meat then perhaps take a look at Spudshed? We regularly go to the one in Jandakot and the average weekly shop for a family of 4 comes to around $150-170 (including meat) whereas a similar haul from Coles is consistently over $200. Their F&V is usually very well priced but the grocery and dairy items are similarly priced to coles & woolies but with drastically reduced choice between brands.

    The Flybuys deals are personalised based on your spending habits. We were being asked to spend over $250 per week for 4 weeks to get the $50 voucher which was getting uneconomical (and a pain in the jacksie). Come to think of it, I haven’t had any emails from them in a while. Am I off their radar?

    1. Thanks BlindSquirrel – excellent suggestion. Spudshed is pretty good, especially fruit & veg as you say – we do have one a short-ish drive away. I guess we try and balance out how long it takes to do this stuff. I hate going from shop to shop to shop especially if it involves driving.

      We’re quite content with one shop delivered plus one bike-rides worth of groceries from Aldi. I guess everyone has to find their own strategy.

      Holy shit – $250, that’s a big ask! I just ignore the big value ones and eventually they come back with some lower priced offers. Hmm, not sure what to do in your situation? Don’t blame you for shopping elsewhere!

      I assume they target a certain shopper for the most part. I think the small, frequent shopper would be the most profitable, though they can’t be milking much profit out of us 🙂

  2. Love it, Dave!

    Healthy eating is beneficial for one’s life in so many ways. You’ll be financially better off, you’ll lose and maintain your weight, you’ll have more energy and you’ll feel mentally better, more alert, etc. Eating this way has changed my life in more ways than one. “Plant-based eating with some protein content” puts it perfectly.

    From the example you gave of a typical day of eating, it looks like you have cut meat entirely (as opposed to just cutting back a bit). Would it be fair to say that you still eat meat, but just don’t regularly plan to cook it?

    Also, please have a proper breakfast, I can’t stress that enough. Coffee’s great, but give your starving body something to digest, even if you feel fine. 😉

    1. Cheers Nick – great comment 🙂

      Totally agree on the importance of healthy eating. No we’ve cut it out entirely, we don’t buy it and rarely eat it except in some social situations where there’s little choice. That’s why I said ‘mostly vegan’ – we’re not perfect but do have a strong focus on it.

      Actually I don’t really agree with that ‘breakfast’ approach anymore. From reading, my belief is, a mild amount of fasting, especially after waking up, is great for your body – it tends to start feasting on some bodyfat for a while. Our bodies work best with just enough to keep them going. The more food I have in my stomach, the more tired I am.

      Re-fueling is of course very important – to get enough vitamins minerals etc to nourish and repair, at some point in the day but fasting has been shown to be very good for energy levels and overall health too. Others may have a different experience with it, but this works for us 🙂

  3. We simply “shop the specials” and are fortunate to live near a Westfield shopping mall that has easy access to all four main grocery stores: Coles, Woolies, Harris Farm and Aldi. We can go to each one for different items with little hassle. For example, we always buy eggs (barn eggs from happy chooks for $2.99) at HFM. A number of staples come from Aldi while others depend on special prices that week. So we work out what the week’s specials are, plan the meals ahead and BOOM, off we go. Like you we have carved about 50% off the weekly grocery bill.

    Another great thing we did recently was to buy a slow cooker from Hardly Normal. We bought a CHOICE top-rated Sunbeam model for just $30 (on special). We use it all the time. So easy to chop up veg, pour in some stock with condensed tomato soup, and drop in a chook. Four hours later and voila, a great, healthy, hot meal for the family that costs about $8.00 to make.

    1. Great work Scott, and thanks for sharing!

      Sounds like you’ve carved out a solid food strategy and are reaping the rewards – that’s a huge saving 🙂

  4. As mentioned above I love doing roasts in the slow cooker. This week is roast lamb which will be lamb souvlakis one night, lamb & lentils stuff eggplant another and I’ll freezer the rest as lamb ragu on gnocchi in individual serves for easy lunches or lazy dinners
    I get fruit & veg seperatly as the shop around the corner- cheaper & fresher!
    I also work the Coles offers for ‘spend $$ over 4 weeks’ & stock up on frequently used stuff.
    I’ve watched a lot of meat industry docos as well but do still eat meat. I try & pad meals our with lots of veg & use less meat in a dish and also try meat free dishes each week.
    Cooking for two I make 4-6 serves so there’s enough for lunch leftovers or to freeze.

    1. Awesome stuff – thanks for sharing 🙂

      Cooking in bulk is such a winning strategy, saves time, power, mental energy and money!

  5. Great post mate. I can’t agree more on the eating habits. I’ve been eating an entirely vegan diet since the start of the year and the savings is astronomical.

    By not just slamming a piece of steak on the fry pan with some oil for dinners, I spend more time preparing my meals each day or weekend. I am learning how to become a better cook overall. I experiment with new grains or vegetables that I didn’t previously know about. My fiance and I actually treat our Sunday meal prep day as a mini-date, we can chat about financial or life topics, it’s been fantastic.

    Not only is my wallet happy about it, but my overall well being and health has improved immensely as well. I feel more energetic and am sleeping better. The way I see it, no point retiring with a good lump of income if I can’t live out my life happy and healthy!

    1. That’s great to hear Jordan!

      I used to be a ‘steak in the pan’ kind of guy myself lol – but like you, eating vegan has given me way more benefits than expected. It’s amazing the difference it makes.

      And yes, no money in the world is worth more than your health. Even better, it doesn’t cost much at all to eat healthy!

      Love the mini-date idea, sounds like a good team-building exercise 🙂

  6. 5% off woolworths available through pre-purchasing gift cards, and using these gift cards in store – a little bit of effort, but the app makes it easier.
    https://www.cashrewards.com.au/woolworths-gift-cards

    Meat cuts such as heart, liver, kidney can be more healthy, and much cheaper! Great in stews.

    Also, bulk cooking and freezing works wonders – we bought ourselves a chest freezer recently, and I managed to cook 15 meals worth of stew in a large pot, and freeze it up – two lunches at work a week has been sorted for the last two months! It’s got meat, veg, leafy greens and sweet potato in the ideal ratios – so every lunch is automatically healthy.

    1. Good tips there Mark. I’ve never tried the gift card approach, 5% is better than nothing I guess!

      Wow that’s a solid effort 15 meals in one cook – very impressive! You win the award for Strong Money Frugal Follower of the day! 🙂

  7. Another Fantastic post Dave!

    Really enlightening some of that information. It’s always great to hear and see what other options are out there and giving it a try for ourselves! Definitely something we will give a crack to hopefully reduce our food shops from $180-200 down to below $150! 🙂

    1. Thanks PerthFI!

      With some of the ideas from the post and the great tips from your fellow readers, I’m sure you’ll be able to save heaps 🙂

  8. Nice post dave!

    My few cents
    Here are the plants that are trust worthy and they give me 150% return

    1. Grow pots of dwarf variety citrus – I stopped buying lemon,lime,mandarin.
    2. Herbs & Spices – coriander,mint,basil,thyme,oregano,rose Mary, kaffir lime plant leaves!!(simply awesome aroma),thai chilli,curry leaf
    3.Instead of spinach , I use moringa oleifera(drumstick tree,horseradish tree) leaves -suggest refer wikipedia for nutrition information – it is being used as sole agent to combat malnutrition and iron deficiency
    (I am happy to provide some fantastic tasting cooking ideas using this:-))

    I use curry leaves in cooking since its a source for iron & aroma

    I bought these plants for max $5 in plant market except citrus for $20

    Buy bulk dry beans,lentils,spices,rice from Indian store.

    We prepare sandwiches for work for a week and store them in freezer.
    We follow the rule one pot meal cooking.We cook 2 dishes on weekend that will be used alternate days for 5 days for dinner.We strictly follow three veggies in addition to our main dinner
    We buy veggies on sale – carrots,broccoli,beans,cauliflower,cabbage. We wash & cut them and separate into 7 servings pack to be frozen for daily use.
    We treat ourself with home made pizza,sweets and bakes over weekend.

    oops! sorry long post.

    1. Great suggestions gmaninc – thanks for taking the time to share!

      You outline a very solid strategy and it certainly sounds like it works for you. We also use many of the same plants, herbs and ingredients as you to create some delicious and healthy dishes 🙂

      Haha the weekend is our ‘treat’ time too – although it sometimes carries over into the weekdays if there’s extra!

  9. Great article. Cutting red meat consumption and eating more vegetables and fruit helped me lose 5 kgs over 3 months…and cut my groceries to less than 100 bucks a week from previous 150 week.

    Some ppl bag frozen meals but price is quite reasonable when on sale and it saves me time doing things i enjoy like research small cap shares…haha

    1. Awesome stuff Money Penny!

      Haha that’s fair enough, everyone has to draw the line somewhere on how much time to spend prepping food 🙂

  10. We do a fair amount of this stuff as well. The bonus points, shopping the specials, buying the frozen fruit, cooking in bulk to some extent, doing plenty of it at Aldi etc. It helps that we have a shopping centre nearby with Coles, Woolies and Aldi all in the one place.

    One thing that you didn’t mention is buying some of your fruit and veg from the seconds fruit and veg shops where it is often less than half the price. Normally there is nothing wrong with it but it just doesn’t look quite as nice as the stuff from the supermarkets.

    We also mostly eat the cheaper types or cuts of meat, so lots of chicken and mince. If we’re having lamb or steak then it’s the chops rather than the cutlets or blade/rump/porterhouse rather than scotch fillet. Neither my wife or I are good enough cooks that it’s worth spending more for the top of the range stuff and we’re very happy with what we get anyway. The meat from Aldi apparently used to be pretty poor but now it’s just as good as the other supermarkets and often costs a lot less as well to help save money.

    Something else which helps for the carnivores is using vegies to fill out a lot of meat dishes. Chuck some beans and corn in with your mince, it’s healthier and you’ll use less meat or there will be more of the meal and you can take some to work tomorrow. Same with fajitas, stews and lots of other meals.

    1. Thanks for sharing Aussie HIFIRE.

      Oh, I’m not familiar with ‘seconds’ fruit and veg shops. Can you shed any light on this?

      Great idea on bulking out the meals more with veg to also make it stretch further!

      1. Around where I live there are a couple of fruit and veg shops that sell the fruit and veg that presumably doesn’t meet the supermarkets standards for how the fruit and veg look. So instead of a perfectly shaped capsicum you get one that’s bent in the middle but instead of costing $8/kg it’s $4/kg or avocados that are half the weight but a quarter of the cost of the supermarket stuff. So some visible blemishes occasionally (although most of it looks absolutely fine) but no impact on how the food actually tastes. And given most of the time you’re cutting it up anyway, who cares what it looks like beforehand?

        1. Wow that’s awesome! We have some Asian fruit/veg shops where the prices are slightly better but no difference in produce.

          Exactly, if it tastes the same, you’re beating the standard shopper by getting the less ‘pretty’ stuff 🙂

  11. Thanks for the mention, growing herbs is a joint brained 😀 it has been a tough few months through winter for my little herb garden. But spring should see things brighten up.

    I have been experimenting with an increased plant based diet for a fair while, mainly for the health benefits. The amount of meat Aussies eat compared to the rest of the world is astonishing.

    Totally agree on the meal prep paragraph. An extra 30 minutes to cut up meat veggies that most people would otherwise use to be watching TV or glued to their phone is not a big ask and exactly what I do.

    Good post

    1. Cheers Pat 🙂

      Haha yeah some of the herbs get a little sad in the winter!

      Interesting, are you feeling any different from the diet change?

    1. Thanks Barry! Some interesting insights in there. Think I saw that a while ago but forgot all about it!

  12. Through necessity this week I had my first groceries home delivered. Have always shopped at Coles (and Aldi – they don’t deliver 🙁 )
    Put order in through Coles but couldn’t get a delivery so through desperation redid groceries through woolies.
    Found the woolies online much easier to use and a lot more range with fruit and veg (no independent f&v within a 45min drive) they also offer delivery saver options so $79 for 12mth for Tues, Wed or Thurs delivery. Works out $6.59/mth.
    We too have been eating mostly vegetarian meals. Feeling much better healthwise and much nicer for the budget.
    Thanks for all the great ideas you write about.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Ren 🙂

      Interesting about the delivery subscription offer – haven’t really looked at that before. And nice job on your health boost!

      Hopefully Aldi starts delivering at some point – that could be a game changer I think.

  13. Hi Dave – this is awesome. I’m totally with you on the Coles flybuys, and the stocking up – I’m also that guy who is filling my car boot with 4 pack paper towels when they’re 50% off 🙂

    I’ve experimented mildly on and off with different foods and ways of eating, as it’s crazy how changes in diet can make you feel better or worse – although it’s not always easy to isolate what is making you feel what! I’m really into nuts at the moment as a snack during work hours – fair to say it’s been a positive replacement from cookies and donuts 🙂

    Cheers, Frankie

    1. Haha good to hear it Frankie! I thought you’d be a value shopper! 🙂

      Yeah man absolutely – if I eat rubbish food, I feel like crap and it puts me in a bad mood as well (carb/sugar crash or something I guess).

      Nuts are an awesome snack, probably a little better than those other alternatives lol 😉

  14. Hello Frugalites .
    Found the ultimate food solution about two years ago :
    l refused to cook any sort of food at all . Call me the Sandwich King if you wish .
    Lite rye bread and rye rusks suffice on all occasions .
    Think about my savings on electricity and water bills .
    ln my own [ deluded ? ] opinion , l eat like a king !
    Regards , Ramon .
    l have not eaten meat for over twenty years .

  15. Hi .
    Has anyone yet tried the Sandwich System of Non-Cooking yet ?
    But please be very wary , the practice could easily become very addictive !
    God bless the Earl , Ramon .
    P.S. A side benefit, l find , is that one’s loved ones and friends insist in taking one to eat out more often than yonder .

  16. I’m very late to this, but I’m reading having been linked from your more recent post. Another top tip I found recently is to smart shop the “ethnic” aisle in Coles. While some stuff is imported and crazy expensive, other stuff is very cheap. I got a 200g bag of turmeric for the same price as a 25g bag they were selling one aisle over in the same store! I also always buy spices in bags instead of jars. I bought some reusable spice jars from Ikea and I’ve saved loads, plus contributing to a lower carbon footprint.

  17. Hey Dave. Very late here to post.

    The documentary could have been Dominion https://www.dominionmovement.com/watch. It is based on Australian agriculture practices to Australian standards. A truely shocking video that every meat eater needs to watch.

    Also with hindsight having 85 rolls of toilet paper got you ahead of the curve for COVID-19.

    All the best

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