I’m going to answer my most commonly asked questions on How to stick to a monthly budget, Do my meals ever get boring, What about those extras that we need to top on, What about fresh fruit and veg and finally My top tips.
So basically I do what works for my family.
I am a meal planner. I will sit down the week before food shopping and I will plan all our meals out, our weekend lunches out, what baking will be done for the lunches and any all the little treats. I will talk about it with the hubby and I will get the boys involved.
The thing with monthly pay is that you literally can’t go over budget. Every penny we have is accounted for because if we over spend on an area then we are left short which leads to difficulties when it comes to things like his gas money.
One thing I do to make sure we don’t go over budget is I meal plan. And I meal plan from the freezer and the cupboards before anything else. This also gives me a chance to see what we have that needs restocking as well. Another way in which I make sure we don’t go over budget is I online shop. I very rarely go in store because it can lead to more things being put in the trolley even when you have a list.
As for do our meals become boring. I try and switch them up. I use my cookbooks and my recipes, I also do easy dinner nights, so pizza night where the boys and hubby will pick a couple of pizzas out of the freezer and a garlic bread and I’ll make some homemade chips, breakfast for dinner night, and kids meals nights what I mean by that is I let the boys choose what we have for dinner and they choose anything from the freezer.
Every Sunday we do a roast, I mix it up between Chicken, Pork and Lamb. The boys love having a roast and its something I grew up with every Sunday. Plus if there are any left overs we either use them for lunches the next day or if it’s Pork or Lamb I will create a dish on the Monday.
When it comes to our fruit and veg I do buy fresh veg some of the time. I am a big advocate for not shopping for fruit and veg from the supermarket. I try to buy from either a fruit and veg store or the local Sunday market. But in saying that I do buy a lot of our veg frozen. There is nothing wrong with frozen veg and usually you get twice as more veg frozen then you do fresh for cheaper.
I try to stay away from always buying the mixed veg and I will always have fresh carrots and capsicum in the fridge because mixed veg packs can become boring and I prefer fresh carrots and capsicum.
When it comes to what we do when we need top ups I have that covered. We usually only need to top up formula and fresh fruit weekly. So I budget $120 a month for top ups. We don’t usually have to top up on milk because I buy 4 3 liter bottles and I freeze them.
And finally: Here are my Top Tips:
- Don’t buy jar sauces e.g. Italian sauce or Cheese sauce.
I buy 5 passata jars and I make my own sauces with herbs, garlic, onion and spices.
- Buy canned tomatoes, corn, chickpeas and beans. If you don’t want too much sauce then a can of tomatoes with herbs and spices will do the tick. Corn, chickpeas and beans can also help bulk out meals.
- When buying meat always buy exactly what you need. Once I have brought the meat I portion it out, place it in ziplock bags, write what that portion of meat is for and how much is in the bag. This helps keep the meat prices down and makes sure you don’t over use and run out and need to go back.
- DON’T BE BRAND LOYAL. Budget brand is just as good as a brand. The only thing I am brand loyal to is formula, baby wipes for obvious reasons and yeast for the bread.
- Bulk buy your marge and butter. Every month I buy 6 margarine’s and 4 butters. I will sometimes need to buy an extra butter but very rarely. I freeze the margarine’s and get them out when I need them.
- Make your own yogurt. You can buy those yogurt makers from the supermarket and the sachets. I buy 4 sachets a month (one a week) and all it takes is water the sachet and then hot water, leave for 8 to 12 hours and bam yogurt. Plus it’s a great thing to get the kids involved in. The boys choose their yogurt from the cupboard on a Sunday and help me make it 🙂
- Make your own bread. Honestly this has been a big saver for us. A 5kg high grade flour last us over a month but I always buy one each month, I buy 3 surebake active yeasts and if I have haven’t used all 3 then I just buy what I need the next month.
- Bake for school lunches. This has been another big saver for us. I dedicate Sunday’s to cooking the roast and baking for lunches. I plan what we are going to bake and it just makes things cheaper on the grocery bill and another thing I get the boys involved in.
- Another thing I do is we use Shotz sensitive powder and softener which we get from the warehouse. The powder is $10 for 5kgs and lasts us a while and the boys don’t react the softener is $5 for 2 litres and we buy 3 of them a month.
- Always look at alternatives. We did simple things like swapping out dishwasher tablets for the powder because it last so much longer, buying spices instead of the spice sachets e.g chili con carn and so on.
- My biggest tip is to not stress. Honestly the first time I did a monthly shop I messed up. Take your time, when online shopping do carts on both countdown and pak n sav to see which one is cheaper, meal plan slowly and do your research. Look at recipes online, use cookbooks but also make sure to include what your family likes especially if it is a favorite of the kids then make sure to include it.
Monthly grocery shops are hard and can sometimes feel daunting, the same with the meal planning for an entire month, or the baking each Sunday but it does become kind of a routine after a while.
And Remember there is no right way. As I stated at the beginning of this post I do what works for my family. What I do may not necessarily work for your family or your dietary needs. Or just may not work for you in general. You will find what works for you through trial and error just like I did.
And you can always send me a message on here or on Instagram if you have any questions. I’m no professional but I’ll talk and share my experiences and what I have learnt 🙂
-Just A Happy Mum