Proof in the pudding
If you’re serious about reducing the amount of money you spend on food each week, you need evidence that you’re overspending. Collect all your shopping dockets over a couple of weeks, and tally them up. Try to include all those incidental ‘just-buying-milk’ runs (because, invariably, a trip to the shops to buy milk sees you coming home with more).
If you want to get a little more scientific, then categorise your food shopping. Work out how much you spend on meat, fresh fruit, vegetables, processed foods, and so on. Patterns will emerge. According to ASIC’s MoneySmart, did you know, for example, that residents of the Australian Capital Territory spent nearly double what people in the Northern Territory spent on chocolate each week in 2012? Look at your own spending patterns and see what you could save. You might be surprised at how much money is being spent on meat, and decide to add a few more vegetarian meals to your weekly meal plan. If fresh vegetables are a massive line item, then you might get the motivation you need to kick-start that vegetable garden you’ve always talked about putting in.
While you’re examining the evidence, take a good look at how much food is wasted in your household. Are you constantly ditching wilted carrots and slimy greens? Maybe you need to scale back on the volume of vegetables you buy each week (or, as mentioned above, cook some cheaper meals with them!). If you’ve always got weeks-old leftovers sitting uneaten in the fridge, then you might need to teach yourself how to cook smaller portions. Wasted food is money down the drain.
Armed with all this proof that you’re overspending, then you are more likely to be motivated to do something about it, right? Sure, it might take a little effort to change your behaviour. But if you’re really keen to reduce your food bill, then keep your eyes on the prize of saving money and see what difference a few changes can make.