Lifestyle

Costbusters: Save money with menu planning

Plan your weekly menu and shop once a week to save money on groceries.
Plan your weekly menu and shop once a week to save money on groceries. Alistair Brightman

FOOD is among the top three biggest expenses in life, behind housing and transport.

A simple Google search on cutting back on grocery shop spending will flush out countless ideas, from growing your own vegetables to not letting supermarket "specials" con you.

The hottest tip 4 Ingredients cookbook co-founder Kim McCosker swears by is to plan your weekly menu and shop once a week.

But this is not something most Australians do.

According to AusVeg's Project Harvest research for 2015, the weekly shop is dead and the average person grocery shops two to three times a week.

Only about a third of people shopped once a week, the figures showed.

READ RELATED:

But Ms McCosker said planning a weekly menu and shopping once a week for only the needed ingredients would help you to save enough money to pay the electricity bill or save for a holiday.

She said for every $100 spent on groceries, on average $20 would go to waste.

"Most people don't have a plan and just go in and are guided by what's on sale," she said.

Ms McCosker said this was not cost effective, and that spontaneously-bought items were prone to being placed inside the pantry and forgotten about until past their use-by date.

Her second tip for cost saving was to keep it simple; if you have ingredients to make a quick, easy meal at home, you're less likely to waste money on takeaway.

Growing your own veggie garden can be cheaper in the long run, if you have time to upkeep it.

But if you don't, having a few small pots with hassle-free herbs could save you money too.

Ms McCosker said it was important to have a star flavour when cooking with limited ingredients and self-grown herbs were cheap, natural and healthy.

Her tip? Grow mint - it doesn't require much care.

Buying meat in bulk can also cut down the grocery bill because it means your freezer will always be stacked with core ingredients, and Ms McCosker also suggested keeping mince and eggs on hand at all times because they were staple ingredients for many recipes.

And try not to buy into the "specials" at supermarkets unless it's what you actually need.

"I'm sucked into that," Ms McCosker admitted.

"I think, wow, a bag of onions, 16 for $2… but what on earth am I going to use 16 onions for?" 

FAST FACTS

The average Australian spends:

- About $200 a week on food and drinks

- About $20 a week on bakery products

- About $32 a week at restaurants

- About $11.7 billion a year on meat

- About $14.1 billion a year on alcohol

About three-quarters of people buy frozen vegetables.

Source: http://www.moneysmart.gov.au

THE COSTBUSTERS CHALLENGE

THE CHALLENGE: Cook a dish to eat down the pantry/fridge

THE PROCESS: I had about a dozen eggs, heaps of milk, two drawers of unused veggies, tuna crowding my pantry and a holiday that was fast approaching. I had to eat down my shelves.

When making the meal, I used the browning broccoli and capsicum, but still avoided the slimy lettuce and mushy avocadoes - they've gone to waste, sadly.

I chopped up the veggies and added some onion, threw in some cheese and crushed up some Weet-Bix to help it go further (a trick my Mum taught me). Add the tuna, eggs and milk and top it off with pineapple and breadcrumbs and you're right to go.

Not sure if casserole is the right word for the concoction: it could also pass for a heavy quiche, minus the pastry.

It took a while to cook (about 45 minutes) and was slightly overdone but, meh, it's not like I was competing in Masterchef.

THE RESULT: While my cat preferred the likes of prime fillet of chicken in a tin for dinner, the casserole did the job; it filled my tummy for three meals and used up ingredients I would have thrown out otherwise. 

 

Topics:  bills, costbusters, editors picks, food, groceries, money




Top temps to drop but sun to stay

SUNSHINE: Irish visitor Dualta Mitchell-Higgins, 11, puts the finishing touches to the sandcastle he spent two hours building on Torquay Beach. He is pictured with his dad's girlfriend Erica Johnston.

Just your typical winter on Fraser Coast

What’s left of Hervey Bay’s drive-in theatre

NOSTALGIA: The film reels have stopped, the sound has died and the crowds long gone ... the old drive-in theatre at Scrub Hill on the Hervey Bay Maryborough Rd.

The Fraser Coast Regional Council owns the now run-down theatre

Latest deals and offers

Three reasons your mind will be blown this week

Alan Dale and Jacki Weaver in a scene from the TV series Secret City.

THREE shows on Foxtel to make your mind boggle.

Elena wins MasterChef: “I’m ecstatic and eager to celebrate"

MasterChef Australia 2016 winner Elena Duggan, from Noosa.

NOOSA chefs survive marathon grand final dish by Heston Blumenthal.

Shannen Doherty shaves hair during cancer battle

Shannen Doherty has completely shaved off her hair

Brian McFadden makes daughters pay for own Christmas gifts

McFadden makes his daughters pay for half their presents

Lady Gaga is a godmother

Lady Gaga has become a godmother to her friends' daughter

Will Turbo be taken off TV?

Memes about Turbo are flowing on Social media.

PEOPLE want Turbo taken off TV, but will Prospero Productions the ma

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles