Groceries are ridiculously expensive. Prices also seem to keep going up. I’ve also found though, that’s it’s very easy for my standard of living to slowly creep up too. So not only is meat getting more expensive, but one slowly starts to buy the better meat more often, or the fancier muesli.
Towards the end of last year I felt like setting myself a challenge to spend less on our groceries. Not just to spend less though, to have an actual limit. The next month started without any planning so it just slipped away and nothing came of it. A few weeks ago we had a challenging message at church about how we use our money (or time, resources etc). To look and check “am I being wise (and righteous) with the way my money is spent”? Do I need the fancier item, where the less fancy one is totally acceptable, maybe still even a luxury? And maybe the change can be used for something else or to help someone else. For big items, like cars or houses, sometimes that “change” is even enough to pay for someones education or help them get better transport.
So, here we are at the start of March, finally ready to go.
March Grocery Challenge
There are a few reasons why I’m wanting to challenge myself to spend less this month (and months to come):
- To save money. Obviously. But also to give some away.
We are currently living basically on one salary, so every little bit of extra money saved helps. But, I am still very much aware that we have WAY more than the average South African. It’s never a concern for me whether I will have food, a roof or clothes. Maybe I can’t have the fancy food, but there is always enough. Maybe I never shop at Country Road, but I can give away my clothes with tiny holes not worrying if I have something else to wear instead.
Part of this challenge for me (at least for the first few months) is to then actively give away extra money I’ve saved. Or to actively use that money to bless someone else with groceries or things they need.
- To force myself to be more creative with meals and plan ahead.
Too many days it gets to the end of the day, when I’m already tired, and only then do I decide what to make for dinner. Sometimes I can make it work with what we have in the house, but often this means almost daily trips to the shops to get the few extra ingredients. Creativity is at a minimum at the end of the day and often new meals need some extra time. This means we end up with the same meals over and over again.
I especially need to put more effort into my toddler meals. Poor girl doesn’t get enough variety. Granted, that’s mostly her own choice.
- To practice using budget friendly foods.
We used to eat a lot of lentils. Whenever I used mince, I’d add lentils in. They’re really healthy and stretch the mince to extra meals. Lentils do need longer to cook though (see above point about time)! Thats’s just one example of a budget friendly food that I want to start using again.
In my mind I always bring it back to Woolies Chicken Schnitzels. They are delicious, but they’re expensive! If instead of the schnitzels I buy 4 normal chicken breasts from Pick n Pay or Checkers, I can save R30-R50. That R50 can go a very long way for someone else. Or to helping pay off our bond, or paying your child’s school fees. Or someone else’s child’s school fees. You see the point?
- To be grateful for what I have and mindful of what I need and intentional about what I buy.
I recently asked you on Instagram, how much you spend on your groceries. The answers came back ranging from R1200 for two adult to R9000 for a family of four. The most common answer was between R3500 and R5000 for families with one or two kids. We currently spend roughly R6000 a month, including toiletries, cleaning products and any other purchases from Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Checkers, Dischem or Clicks. So that includes any clothes from there too. Not that I buy clothes all that often. Long story short, it makes sense for all of those to go on the credit card, so I don’t have an exact breakdown of just groceries for the past few months.
Bottom line is that it’s too much! We don’t eat fancy meals, we don’t do fancy snacks, desserts or even juice.
So, for March I am going to challenge myself to spend R3000 (or less) on our groceries (including food, toiletries and cleaning products). This is for our family of 3. If we go out for a meal I won’t include that, although we generally wait for 2-for-1 deals anyway. My hope is that with intentional shopping R3000 will actually be easy and that I’ll need to re-set the challenge next month, but let’s see.
Please note: This is actually quite a hard thing for me to put out into the internet world. I am fully aware that I am coming from a privileged position and that in South Africa R3000 is more than some families have to cover all their costs for the month. That breaks my heart. Spend less, give more is the aim! In all honesty, I know that when I save the temptation will straight away be to keep it for myself. We are not perfect people. I am not a perfect person. But, it’s a journey and I’d love you to join me on it.
Do you want to join me? Challenge yourself! Feel free to set your own limit. I’m sure I’ll be posting a bit about it throughout the month on Instagram, so follow along there too.