A budget conscious mum has revealed her top tips to feed her family for just $3.50 a head – and it’s surprisingly easy.
With the cost of living skyrocketing, all of us are looking for those thrifty tips and tricks to help us keep a little extra of our hard-earned cash in our pocket.
For Melbourne mum Alison Said, her biggest budget revelation came two years ago when she began meal prepping in a bid to help save some extra dollars and reduce food waste.
But the pay-off was so spectacular that it has since become a “way of life” – and now her family saves a whopping $15,000 a year.
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“I started meal prepping back in 2020 when I was on maternity leave,” she said.
“I was really motivated to become a better cook for my kids, provide them with meals they would actually eat, while saving money for my family.
“It’s become a way of life and has helped us save around $15k yearly.”
Before she began meal prepping and planning, the mum said she would spend at least $250 a week on groceries, and another $150 a week on takeaways, bringing her total to $400 a week.
She now only spends $100 a week on food, saving her $15ka year.
At just $100 a week, Alison spends $14.20 a day on feeding her family, which equates to a tiny $3.57 a head.
Alison said some of the best savings started when she began bargain shopping at Aldi, which she claims has some of the best discounts in comparison to other supermarket chains.
“I always shop whatever I can at Aldi first, as the prices are always cheaper.
“Whatever I can’t get from there, I’ll browse the weekly specials from Coles and Woolworths to see if they have what I need
“If you check the catalogs before and make a solid plan, it can save you loads.”
The finance professional said it can be easy for anyone to begin saving a bit of extra cash when food shopping each week with a few simple tweaks to their routine.
With these helpful hacks, Alison assures it won’t be long before you start noticing a difference in how much you can save.
“I never pay full price, and always raided the catalogs for bargains” she explained.
“I’ll always stock up discounted meat and shop the market in bulk. We also use a vacuum seal machine to store our meat in the freezer for longer.
“Shop the local fruit and veggie shops and also buy produce that’s in season, as it’s much cheaper.”
“If you have unused bread approaching the expiry date, freeze it. Use for lunch box sandwiches or toasties,” she continued.
“I organise my pantry, fridge and freezer regularly, so we create more space for bulk-buys and can easily see what we already have and don’t waste food.
“Chop fruit and vegetables ahead of time, it will help avoid the temptation of ordering takeaway.”
The mum also keeps her family meals simple and budget-friendly, while she will often meal-prep in advance to save time and money later.
“Dishes like spaghetti bolognese, pasta bakes and nachos are always cheap and go down well.
“I also enjoy whipping up homemade pies, and I’ll buy a roast chicken to use for wraps. The leftovers can be saved for future meals.
“Simple sandwiches for the kids to take to school are a great time and money saver, and I will also incorporate leftovers from dinner to bulk up their lunch boxes.
“I can still make my children’s lunches look exciting and colorful on a budget.”
Alison’s final two tips for parents trying to save at the shops are simple.
“Never go shopping when you’re hungry and try to leave the kids at home if you can” she said. “It’s better not to be rushed and distracted, as it will save you from throwing whatever you can in the trolley just to get out quickly with your screaming toddler.”
ALISON’S TOP FIVE TIPS FOR STICKING TO A FOOD BUDGET
1. Don’t buy full price if you can avoid it, always wait until it’s on special
2. Stock up on certain food items like meat when it’s on sale and freeze for later
3. Shop the local green grocers for a better deal on fruit and vegetables
4. Invest in a vacuum machine to keep food fresh for longer
5. Never go food shopping on an empty stomach