We have realised the importance of saving and being mindful with our spending since our move here in Oman. It is something that we have consciously woven into our lifestyle. We collected the good practices on mindful spending that we have done in Singapore and continued it here in Oman. We learned from the spending mistakes we were doing before our move. We realised that food is one of the major expenses in our budget, particularly on grocery. So we have managed to come up with 10 hacks to save on food expenses.
1. Budget monthly and stick to it
We have a monthly budget and we have a specific budget intended only for grocery. Monthly, we would adjust it depending if there is a celebration or a special occasion but most often than not, we stick to the allotted budget. We foresee if there is any need to to increase the monthly budget for that month and that month’s budget will reflect the adjusted grocery budget. There here is a fixed amount for every grocery trip. We use our calculator when doing grocery. Once we noted that we are exceeding the allotted budget, we will put back the unnecessary items like snacks or take cheaper version of the food item or smaller size of the item to accommodate in the budget.
2. Do meal planning
This is one of the things that has helped us tremendously. Previously in Singapore, our helper and I would create meal plans for the week. It will allow us to know what grocery items we will buy in our next grocery trip. We don’t just grab anything that looks “nice” in the supermarket. We know what we exactly needed for our meals for the next week which lessen our grocery expenses. We often have bread with spread, cereals, oatmeal or biscuits with coffee for breakfast and we would cook one big dish for our lunch & dinner. I also have a list of dishes we go on rotation which I based on for my meal plans. Let me know if it is something that you would be interested in for me to share with you.
3. Make grocery list and audit food stocks before grocery time
Now that you have your meal planner, it is advisable to go to the grocery store with a grocery list. Stick to it, don’t deviate so you can stick to your budget. Before I would make a list in my little handy notebook but now, I write it down in the Notes app on my phone. I would write automatically in it if I find any items that are low in our pantry throughout the week then I will add in the ingredients needed for the meals for the week.
4. Do grocery weekly
I prefer to do grocery weekly. I noticed that if we do grocery monthly or every 2-3 weeks, the stocks wouldn’t last a week (usually the snacks) and we would still go to the near store to buy more stocks. Doing grocery weekly can allow us to perfectly budget our grocery money.
5. Use credit card with grocery rebates (and pay total amount in full on bill time)
We got a Lulu Bank Muscat credit card because we often do our grocery in Lulu. Using that credit card in Lulu would give us points and reward us with rebates. One time, we did grocery worth of 30 omr and because of the rebates accumulated we only paid 15 omr. We paid half of the price of our grocery! With that being said, we still are mindful of our credit card usage. By pay day, we pay the exact full amount we used for grocery for that month, that is why sticking to the monthly budget is very important. There should be zero debt month in our grocery credit card once pay day comes. We have a separate credit card for non-grocery items which we also keep in minimum and usually for big instalment necessary purchases like home appliances.
6. Try online grocery
One thing that can allow you to stick to your grocery budget is by doing online grocery. This has been my trick in Singapore because I noted the difference in doing grocery with my helper & kids versus doing online grocery. I could stick better with the budget when I do online grocery via HonestBee. With my grocery list beside me, I can just search on the items I needed. I could see the total amount that I am paying for. If I see that I have gone over the budget, it is just easy to delete certain items before check-out. Here in Oman, there is no home delivery in our area but we do the Click & Select in Lulu. We do online grocery, select the time for pick and hubby will drive to the supermarket to pick it up.
7. Freeze leftover dishes
I mentioned that we often have one big dish cooked for lunch and dinner. Usually, we still have leftovers from that dish. Instead of keeping it in the fridge or throwing it out, I put it in a container and put it in the freezer.We would have a weekly Leftover Day. I would microwave the frozen microwave or heat it in the stove and it still taste delicious.
8. Repurpose leftovers by creating new dishes
If the leftovers are very minimal like just 2 pieces of chicken or dried corned beef, we use these to create new dishes instead of throwing it out. We would deep-fry chicken from adobo chicken or we can make left over Chicken Joy into soy garlic chicken. We also use the few leftover meats to out in our noodles or pasta dishes. Leftover beef from soups can be repurpose into teriyaki beef or Mongolian beef. We can create few days spaghetti from a party into baked spaghetti. Dried corned beef or stir-fried minced meat can be turned into meat patties using egg and flour. Also don’t forget to put your leftover rice inside the fridge because it will spoil if you leave it out. When we cook new rice for meal time, we will just put the old rice on top when the new rice is being warmed. We also make fried rice out of our leftover rice with lots of garlic.
9. Buy store brands rather than the name brands
Buying store brands from Lulu or Carrefour can help lower down our cost in grocery. We have tried both name brand & store brands. We don’t see any big difference in terms of quality of the items. There are just specific name brands that we buy but most the items we often go for store brands.
10. Plant your own vegetables and herbs
To cut down on the grocery budget, try to plant your own vegetables and herbs. If you have a good soil, plant like Moringa tree in your backyard. You can also buy seeds to plant tomatoes, cauliflower, cucumber, etc. Growing herbs in small pots would not only minus spending money on spices, it would also make your dishes more delicious since the herbs are fresher. You can also sprout mung beans to create bean sprouts.
That is the 10 tips I can share on reducing your grocery cost. I have one bonus tip for you.
* Reserve only take-outs or dine-out at least once a month
Take-outs or dine-outs often happen if people don’t plan our meals for the week. Since we don’t live in the city, we have few options for dine in or take-out in our place which help us to be less tempted to do take-outs and eat-outs. We often reserve it only at least once or twice a month when we go to the city or after pay day. But we don’t make it a daily habit.
Do you find this list helpful? Share with me your tips in saving on food cost..