Good financial habits part 2: Planning meals on a budget


There are many ways to save money on the foods that you eat. The three main steps are planning before you shop, purchasing the items at the best price, and preparing meals that stretch your food budget.

Here are our tips:

Always plan: Before you head to the shops, plan your meals for the week. Include meals like stews, casseroles or stir-fries, which “stretch” and can be frozen if there are leftovers. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list of what you need to buy.

Check food sales: Check your favourite food stores online websites for specials ahead of shopping. Also invest in loyalty cards – Woolworths and Checkers have great programs for you to score extra savings at the till. Look for specials on meat and seafood as those are generally the most expensive items on your list.

Compare: Nothing wrong with comparing different brands and sizes of the same brand to determine what is more economical.

Bulk-buying: It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are family packs of chicken, steak, or fish and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough fridge or freezer space.

Look out for seasonal foods: Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness.

Go back to the basics: Convenience costs – frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables and instant meals are going to cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Rather take time out to prepare meals and invest in kitchen appliances to make everything yourself.

Cook in bulk: Prepare a large batch of your favourite food and make double or triple. Always have for lunch the next day and save on buying lunch at work or on take-aways.

Be inventive in the kitchen: Spice up leftovers or use them in new ways. For example try leftover chicken in a stir fry or a garden salad the next day.

Save when eating out: Restaurants can be expensive so try going out for specials, or going out for lunch instead of dinner. Try also look for ‘2 for 1’ specials and stick to sparkling water instead of going ham on the beverages.