Our Frugal Lifestyle

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Passionate about eco-frugality. I used to party hard, clubbing my way from pay-packet to pay-packet. Never getting ahead, just getting by. Then came our much wanted baby with no savings in the bank - only an old car. Changes were made to our lifestyle and we didn't turn back. In the past 6yrs we purchased a flat, found employment, lived below our means, built an emergency fund, purchased a reliable car and saw the financial benefits of our frugal lifestyle. Our only debt is our mortgage. Our aim is to manage our cash flow wisely, pay off our home quickly and eventually work for pleasure, not necessity. Join us on our journey, share insights, tips and tricks to help us and others to get ahead while having a good time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Menu Planning and Grocery shopping.

For roughly a year now I have menu planned for the week and grocery shopped accordingly. I have found it saves me time and stress. Instead of wasting time trying to think of what we will have for dinner each night, I have planned it ahead of time and have the exact groceries needed for the dish at home. My grocery budget is $100 but I have been going over that a bit more lately. Prices have gone up and I need to either shop smarter or increase my budget.

This is how I do it:
  1. I sit with pen and paper and write out a 7 day menu plan with a supermarket specials catalogue for guidance on what is super cheap or in season.
  2. I then write my ingredients for each meal and check to see what I have at home (shop at home 1st).
  3. With the ingredients list I am able to write my shopping list under headings of the areas the items are in; for example Deli, Fruit n Veg, Dry & Tin, Frozen etc. 
  4. Having my list categorised alleviates the need to browse the aisles and make impulse purchases.
  5. I allow myself to stray from my list if I see a cheaper item that can be replaced for another item in my menu or a not to be missed deal and I always allow for a few special treats to prevent corner shop splurges.
My Groceries for this week came to $76.36
My shopping list had leek but I purchased celery as it was the same price but nicer looking. The mushrooms, yogurt and turkey slices were marked down by 66% so they were must have deals. The chocolate was from my treat category.

My menu's are pretty flexible, if we don't feel like a dish on a particular night then it's not a problem to cook something else. However I like all our meals to be simple to make as my kitchen is tiny and pathetic... It drives me crazy!

I do have a problem of going into the supermarket most mornings to purchase breakfast (fruit, bread or sweet stuff) as I arrive at work 30 minutes early most days. I want to stop this habit so I will need to plan my breakfasts carefully.

My Menu Plan for this week was:
  • Vegetarian Pasta. (Vegetables chopped up small, tinned tomatoes and dried Italian herbs placed on a bed of spaghetti.)
  • Chicken and Vegetable Soup (Left over roast chicken cooked with vegetables.)
  • Curry and Rice (Cheap soup bones meat, vegetables, tined tomatoes and lots of spices. Rice on the side.)
  • Omelet and Salad. (Eggs, cheese, bacon bits and a green salad on the side.)
  • Vegetable Stir Fry with Rice. (Vegetables marinated in olive oil, ginger (from garden), garlic, lemon grass (from garden), oyster sauce and soy sauce before being tossed in hot wok. Rice on the side.)
  • Roast with Vegetables and Salad. (Small roast pork cooked with vegetables and apples. Green salad on the side.)
Left overs or sandwiches for lunches. 3 fruit for each of us each day. I still had plenty of fruit and mangoes in the fridge. An apple, a generous slice of watermelon, handful of grapes or 3 strawberries is classified as 1 fruit in our household.

The Rambling Expat went fishing today, he spent $25 on fuel and nibbles and caught 4 tuna fish. So our weekly menu will change, some of these meals (which I already batched cooked) will be frozen to allow for lots of fish eating this week. Click HERE to see the Tuna he caught!

How do you shop for your food items?


  1. I always make sure I stock take every Friday night and see what I can make with what I have in the house, I have a good cook and clean on a Saturday and shop as late in the day as possible. I always go with a list, compiled after menu planning and know by Saturday night, that I have three meals a day for 7 days for the pair of us. I keep my budget to under £50 a week and that includes feeding the pets and beauty product too. It pays to be organised.

  2. It sure does pay to be organised! You are one of he most organised people I follow. You are an inspiration and motivation to me.

    After reading a recent post you wrote, I batch cooked today after a long absence from cooking lots of meals at once. It was a stressful nightmare but it can only get better...

    50Pounds = $82AUS. Much better then what I'm doing. But I'm often surprised by how cheap your purchases are. I live in a remote area of Australia so our prices are a bit higher here. When I go down south the prices are crazy cheap compared to here. I need to find out which days are the mark down days to get better deals.

  3. Dear Frugal Down Under,

    I also do what you do. I call it weekly shopping and monthly shopping. Weekly shopping is for menu plan for a week, buying fresh ingredients at the wet market (since the price is cheaper that at the supermarket). I also plan the healthy menu a week, so every day I will not get stressed over what should we eat today. Monthly shopping is for a family need a month like soaps, shampoo, etc, that is cheaper buying 2 items than just 1... and I also make a list and brand because I do not want to be impulsive buyer.

    So I guess... all of mothers around the globe is just like us.



  4. I am not an organised person. It is either not in my genes or I am not wired up to be inherently organised. So planning and following a plan is extremely hard. Nonetheless, I have just started to menu plan. As a first step I am writing down all the meals we have in a week and am collecting the recipes so they are easy to find next time. I thought I would cook from what I already have and need to use up. So I am going through the fridge, the pantry, the freezer and the garden for ingredients. One day i hope to be making ingredient lists like you but for now it is just working through step one. Thanks for your post. It is encouraging. Jane R


Thanks for commenting - I love getting feedback, sharing experiences and learning from you.