4. Shop the sales
Everyone loves a bargain. If you shop the below specials, you can score some great deals at the supermarket:
Stock up: If on sale, get larger quantities of anything that has a long expiry date, or is non-perishable (such as tinned foods, olive oil, household cleaning products or toilet paper), so you don't have to pay full price on your next shop.
Expired gains: When it comes to fresh produce, many supermarkets mark down products that are about to reach their best before date. So if you see bulk chicken or slow-cooker cuts of beef that are heavily reduced, purchase and freeze so you can use it later at a reduced rate. If you're shopping for something that will be used quickly, like a birthday cake, consider getting the item that only has a few days left if it is to be eaten straight away.
Shop the night shift: The same goes for bread and vegetables. If you shop later in the day, you can often score great deals on baked-fresh items that can't be re-sold the next day - $2.50 sourdough, anyone?
5. Buy in bulk
When you're feeding a family, buying enough meat for hungry, growing kids can add up quickly.
An easy way to counteract this is to buy in bulk, portion and freeze. If you do this often for meal prep, a vacuum sealer might also be a worthwhile investment. As well as helping to keep your frozen foods fresh for longer, vacuum sealing will also help to prevent freezer burn, which can affect the taste and texture of your food.
6. Make extra
It’s cheaper to cook in bulk and use leftovers for lunches, to freeze, or as the base of another meal.
Cooking from scratch, and in larger quantities, saves time and money by putting extra meals in the freezer for those hectic days, which means you'll be less likely to resort to takeaway when there's nothing left in the fridge.
7. Buy produce whole
It might be tempting to buy mushrooms pre-sliced, ready-to-roast pumpkin pieces, zucchini noodles or even cauliflower halves but, unless they're on sale, buying 'whole' foods is generally a more cost-effective option.
8. Always check the unit cost
Always check the unit cost, even when products are on sale. This makes it easier to compare the price by weight of similar products.
It’s nearly always cheaper, for example, to buy red c, green and yellow capsicum separately, rather than a plastic-wrapped trio pack that includes one of each. Similarly, just because a more expensive brand of olive oil is on sale, check the cost per litre to get a gauge of whether it's really a better deal.
Don't forget to look on top and bottom shelves, as often, the lower-cost items will be hiding just out of your natural eye-gaze level.
9. Choose cheaper cuts of meat
If you're looking for more economical ways of cooking, particularly for larger groups or families, slow cooking is the answer.
From lamb casserole and beef brisket to braised beef and Guinness pie, slow cooking is the secret to dishing up deliciously effortless dinners. As well as lending themselves to cheaper cuts of meat - such as beef short ribs, lamb shanks and pork shoulder - slow cooking is a set-and-forget meal.
Simply prep the night before, then put on before you leave for work in the morning and you'll come home to dinner already made. These meals also freeze well, so make extra and have another dinner up your sleeve for next time.
10. Get baking and making
Instead of store-bought, bake your own snacks for school (or work). Most basic muffin recipes are pretty forgiving, so they are a great way to use up anything leftover in the fridge - fruit, yoghurt, sour cream, carrots, cheese etc. These lunchbox-approved healthy zucchini muffins and our best-ever banana bread are a great place to start.
You could also look to grow your own veggies at home, create some editable native plants, or go foraging on a weekend adventure for berries, mushrooms, garnishes and even mussels for free produce, year-round.
11. Keep your off-cuts
Whether you're trimming fat off your meat or prepping vegetables, keep your off-cuts (such as carrot peels, tops and bottoms of veggies, broccoli stems).
Freeze them until you have enough, then throw in a pot with a leftover chicken frame, some salt and pepper, and herbs of choice and boil for hours. Et voila, you've got yourself a natural and cheap chicken stock.
Offcuts can also be used for growing new vegetables, or even composting.
12. Use legumes / veg to bulk out meals
Bulking out your meals with lentils or vegetables is a nutritious and cost-effective way to stretch your budget a little further.
Add grated carrots or zucchini to your beef taco mix, bulk up your chili con carne with red kidney beans, or add sweet potatoes and chickpeas to your lamb stews.
You could even go meat free with something quick and tasty, like our budget-friendly vegetable tagine, sweet potato and kidney bean hot pot, or this easy vegetarian lasagna.