24 January 2022

How often do you find yourself thinking “My food bill is getting more expensive every month”

Next to “I can’t save money right now” this would have to be the next most common statement I hear from people I talk to when it comes to guiding them through simple steps to improve their money mindset.

While everyone I have worked with have fixed both, in this article I want to focus on fixing the food bill rollercoaster.

Here’s five things you can adopt that can help you when it comes to controlling the food bill.

These are foundations my wife and I have built into our disciplines that have protected us from blowing out the food bill for several years now.


  1. Find a local greengrocer/ butcher

You might not hit the jackpot first time round so don’t give up if your first attempt isn’t what you thought. Try another local business until you find the one you are happy with.

We have found that by buying from a specialist provider instead of at the local supermarket with our normal food shop there are several benefits

  • Food is fresher
    Supermarkets buy in bulk and store food in cool stores and from experience we have found it never as fresh particularly for foods that are out of season.
  • Food often lasts longer before it spoils
    A great example is the simple lettuce. Average lifetime tends to be 3 times longer when we buy from a grocer instead of the supermarket.
  • You buy seasonal
    Green grocers are specialists not '1 stop shops' so if they don't have it, then chances are it's out of season. You may find it in the supermarket but you will also pay a premium.  

And the biggest benefit, it does end up being cheaper

Another great benefit has been the introduction of foods over time we never would have tried if we simply went down the supermarket isle picking up the same item’s week after week.

  1. Focus on shopping once a week instead of making several trips

Like most people who have busy lives it can be easy to fall into the habit of shopping on the go. Grab what we need right now and worry about tomorrow later.

However, if you focus on the intention to only shop once a week, you are less likely to blow out the budget from adding in all the extras we tend to do when we are just ducking in to grab a few items.

Even for those staple things like bread and milk, by shopping once a week we have learned over time exactly how much we need to buy to prevent the need to return for more.

Let’s face it, how often do we get these little extras from the local diary or petrol station because for the sake of a couple of items the supermarket seems a bit of an effort.

And the mark up from these outlets usually mean we are paying a premium, blowing your budget out even further.

Even if you are paid fortnightly or monthly try to show weekly. Simply divide your budgeted amount accordingly and shop weekly. Building this discipline will save you money.

  1. Use a delivery or click and collect service

This must be one of the best money-saving steps we ever took advantage of.

Think about it, you get to use your valuable time for something more important while someone else walks around the supermarket gathering up your shopping items for you.

Even if you have it delivered and incur a nominal delivery fee, what goes in the trolley was only what was meant to go in. We all do it right, those unintentional purchases that blow out our budget every week.

Hey that’s a great deal, I will buy some of those and in the trolley they go. Those items you didn’t really need but justified as a great price just like the supermarket hoped you would.

  1. Think/plan your meals and who cooks

One of the best ways to avoid blowing out the budget with buying takeaways (often at the expense of good food in the fridge spoiling and later being thrown out) or supporting the need for those multiple trips to the supermarket I talked about earlier is a good plan.

When you think ahead and create a meal plan, it is easier to align your grocery shop with the items needed and leave out the things you don’t.

It also allows you to think ahead about how your meals will fit into other commitments.

Simple heat and eat meals for those days where your schedule is crazy with being a taxi to the children or work commitments that mean you’re walking in the door a little later and more nutritional meals for the days you have time.

There’s also the added benefit that planning gives you. The ability to make a little extra to hold over for lunch the next day saving you from spending money at the local café or bakery.

And if you share the cooking duties like we do, then sticking to your plan will become more consistent.

      5. Set a budget/limit

Often, we allocate an amount to our food bill based on what we think we need to spend rather than a plan.

Try setting a limit lower than what you have typically spent and see how you go. It might take a couple of attempts to reign in the budget so don’t give up.

A limit will push you to think about whether you really need it.

And if setting a limit seems a little tough try the following technique to start the process.

Next time you shop, before you go through the checkout look in the trolley and say to yourself, “What can I actually take out and leave out?”

There are often things in the trolley we don’t really need if we took a moment to stop and ask ourselves the question.