How to save money on groceries so you can spend it at Zara
I’m all about that budget life when it comes to grocery shopping, so I can do (buy) the things I really enjoy. My grocery shopping philosophy is like my fashion philosophy. Save money on the basics and splurge on accessories and key items.
Your capsule wardrobe is your pantry. It’s those items you can use over and over, they never go out of style and you can zhuzh them up with good quality proteins and veggies. Forget about those fickle trends that everyone is going to fall over for then forget about when you’re not looking. I’m talking about *cough* activated charcoal, *cough*. I mean seriously. We’ve already forgotten about Egg month and Turmeric. Don’t try to make Matcha Latte’s happen *rolls eyes*. Do you see where I’m going with this?
So here’s some tips on how-to-save-money-because-I-have-priorities/ do-I-really-need-a-YSL-cardholder-in-my-life type of post. Tell me your favorite fashion items you would rather spend your money on in the comments!
1. Plan a weekly menu.
Think about what you want to make for the week. How much time do you have? What do you have in your freezer/ fridge or grocery cupboard already that you can use to make something awesome? Build a meal around those ingredients and not the other way around. It’s like me saying I need to buy something to make an outfit work. NO! Make the meal with what you have. Meals can be low cost but they don’t have to be low on flavour. I have a timetable (literally, because of my job) so my week is constantly changing depending on when I have class. On Monday and Tuesday when my days are pretty easy I can make something a bit more intense. On Wednesday – Friday depending on how late my class finishes and how tired I am all impact my menu choices. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. But for the most part if my choices are realistic I can stick to them. Use whatever factors you need to make a decision. Whether it is weather, family preferences or dietary requirements but then stick to your choices. You don’t have to plan specifically for each day if you want to be spontaneous but make a list of 5 dishes that you can revert back to.
2. Don’t grocery shop every day.
Make minimal trips to the grocery store. By planning a weekly menu you force yourself to stick to a grocery list. I used to grocery shop almost every other day because I didn’t have a plan. I would find myself in Pick n Pay or Woolies and end up buying too many unnecessary things. Most of these are items that I think look nice, are on special or because I was hungry lol. I stopped shopping at Woolies almost completely. I will still go there for meat, but find making a monthly trip to a butcher is much cheaper. I go to Food Lover’s Market every two weeks and try to stick to my budget of R200 – R250. It sounds crazy but I can buy just enough fresh produce, maybe one or two proteins and some dry goods to get me through a week and a half or two weeks at most. If I spend more than that, it means I’ve bought more proteins or dry goods that I know I will use a lot e.g. tinned tomatoes, chickpeas etc. These are versatile ingredients to keep in your cupboard that are not going to go bad. They have great specials on Wednesday’s but I check the website on Monday or Tuesday to see if any of them work into my menu. That being said, don’t buy things on special just because it’s cheap. That goes for sale clothing as well.
3. The freezer is your friend.
The freezer is my bud. It’s got my back. It’s reliable. Everyone has those items that they eat often. For us it’s tortillas, chicken breasts and vegetables (sweetcorn, peppers, mushrooms, green beans, mixed veg). I know I can make something out of my freezer at all times. It doesn’t get to be this awesome by itself. It needs you. If you have time, wash, cut and store some of these items in clear re-usable bags and organize them by category. Don’t just chuck the stuff in there, keep each drawer for specific things. For example; my top drawer is for proteins. I can easily see what I have and when it’s empty what needs to be re-stocked. I also keep red and green chillies in there as they are small so they won’t get lost. The middle drawer is for roti, tortillas, bread and all the chunkier items that take up lots of space. The last drawer is for my vegetables. I can see everything without moving things about. If you see veggies in your fridge that are looking dodgy and aren’t going to make it through the week, wash and cut them and store them in the freezer before they go to waste. Above and beyond this is the next level in expert status: Cook and prepare things on the weekend (see above tip on dodgy items) or when you have energy and the need to bake strikes. When I bake I always make sure something goes into the freezer. Muffins? Keep half out and put the other half away. Taking one of these muffins to work can be your breakfast or tea time snack therefore eliminating the need to buy something.
4. Be creative. B-E Creative.
ALL ingredients are versatile. Right now I have a 3/4 bag of carrots in the fridge, 1/2 cabbage, 1/2 tub of fresh cream, some tomatoes and a few apples. Sad right? Not really. I can make a few meals out of these combining them with what I have in my cupboard and freezer.
- Carrots – carrot soup, roasted carrots, coleslaw with the cabbage, julienne for stir fry, carrot halwa, carrot biryani and salad (the most boring option).
- Cabbage – broth with carrots, cabbage and stewing beef, coleslaw, stir fry, kimchi, stew and chicken mince Indian style.
- Cream – mushroom sauce with mushrooms from the freezer, pasta sauce, or to serve with dessert (See apples).
- Apples – apple puffs/danishes with puff pastry from the freezer, apple pie, tarte tatin, apple crumble, poached apples, baked apples, apple overnight oats etc.
- Tomatoes – Any indian curry, tomato soup, chunky salads, roasted, pasta sauce etc.
Do any of those sound boring to you? Okay okay, besides the salad. Use themes or cuisines to give you inspiration. My go to are Italian, Mexican and all Asian cuisines including Indian. Use Pinterest if you struggle. Building a good pantry and dry good store helps too. But I will save that for another post. I hope you found these tips helpful. That being said not enough dry bread and peanut butter in the world will help me buy these. So lets just swoon over the pretty things I can’t afford?
Some of my fashion favorites at the moment
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