There has been so many changes for our little family since we have moved down south... most of them the kids have handled like pro's, we are exceptionally proud of them. I need to do another post on why this has been the best thing to have happened to us as a family, but for now I just want to focus on one area of change, that has for me, been the biggest thing to come to terms with.
We have had a minimise our food budget, quite considerably (by nearly $100 a fortnight in fact), and I have discovered that a lot of things are slightly more expensive down here - there is no PaknSave; so we're trying to find the cheapest possible options between Countdown and New World! My friend Rachel wrote a post recently on how she feeds her family of 6 on $120 per week, and gave me some great idea's that I can try here as well! However, we are dealing with allergies on top of it all; so things are always going to cost us a little bit more...
One of the things I have discovered that help make up for this discrepancy, is the community... yep, our local community! We have a weekly Farmers Market, which I try to pop down to every week and limit myself to $20 worth of fruit and veggies; there is also a Community Garden (which I have yet to take advantage of, but I know the prices are considerably cheaper than the Supermarkets), and there are neighbours! We are SO blessed, as one of our neighbours is a prolific gardener, and not only has he supplied us with almost all of the plants in our little veggie patch; but he also will often offer us fresh produce from his own HUGE garden! This is what we got tonight:
Fresh Beetroot, Corn on the Cob, Apple Cucumbers and normal cucumbers!
On top of that, another family within the church, and all our own families down here, have also been blessing us with fruit and veggies. This has meant I haven't had to buy more than a bag or two of carrots and one broccoli for the past month, and fruit has been keep in good supply as well.
This has also meant I have had to learn to cook veggies (and fruit) that I have never tried cooking before, quite often not even eaten much of myself in the past - things such as red cabbages, marrow, apple cucumbers etc. We don't want anything to go to waste (although unfortunately a few things have), so Google has become my best friend for inspiration and new recipes!
Another thing we have been doing to try and minimise the grocery bill, is minimise our meat-eating! In Auckland we were HUGE meat-eaters, it was an every night staple, and while we talked about how we should cut it down - the walk never followed the talk! But it has now... and let me say, my children are AMAZING!
Mini Roast Vegetables (potato and carrot), Slow-Cooked Lemon Courgette and Buttered Balsamic Lentils (and chickpeas in this case)!
Crispy Polenta Chippies, Sautéed Red Cabbage and Buttered Balsamic Lentils (they were such a hit the first time I made them, hubby asked for them again)!
My son, just 3-4 months ago, was still the fussiest child I had ever met... seriously, his most common dinner was porridge with peaches and milk. I stopped catering for him and his minimal palate, and started cooking more adventurously, making him taste everything - but always offering porridge as the back-up when he refused it; and slowly over time (I had thought it would never happen), he has now started eating with us! I can't remember the last time I had to make him porridge for dinner, I am SO proud of him! Sometimes it takes a good dose of tomato sauce to convince him to eat it, and most times it takes a bit of bribery - but almost every single night, his plate is now empty!
Proof - the kids plates tonight, 3-4 mouthfuls left each and that was it!
Everything else was eaten...
But not only have I been adventuring into changing things up at the dinner table, but trying other things as well:
Black Bean and Date Chocolate Brownie
Cooked to celebrate a good friends birthday...
Gluten-Free ad Dairy-Free Carrot Cake;
full of carrot, marrow, apple and raisins!
Cooked to celebrate my Mother-In-Laws birthday,
she is very health-concious, so I knew she'd appreciate this!
Apple and Buckwheat Fritters
GREAT for breakfast, snacks and even dinner!
Homemade Soup with gorgeous green silverbeet fritters!
Quinoa Tabbouleh and Mini Meat Loaves...
(I don't know how to move the photo around, so you can see the smiley face!)
Click the link above to go direct to the recipe.
SO DAMN GOOD!
There are a number of other things I have implemented, or want to implement, as a way of saving money on the grocery bill - menu planning, estimating grocery lists before going, using all the stuff in our cupboard and fridge, taking cash only to the supermarket, taking a 'minimal spending challenge' etc. Some of these I want to elaborate on in other posts, some are just idea's buzzing around in my head still.
I am devouring 'Frugal Living' and 'Wholefood' Blogs at the moment, trying to source tips that could help me - I still don't always manage to stay in budget (this past week was a prime example); but hopefully, we might be able to encourage each other along the way, if you're walking the same journey as me!
What are your best tips for minimising the grocery bills?