When it comes to the middle of the month, I often feel a sense of panic rising: our country is in a recession, food prices are soaring, our children’s needs (school fees, medical bills, clothing and food) are seemingly endless and bills just keep on piling up. Budgeting has probably been one of the hardest parts of my adult life and I often wish I could still phone mom and dad for a little bit of pocket money. But alas, I am now in my mid-thirties with a family of four to take care of and it is time to grow up and adult. Here are some of the saving tips which help me make my money go further day by day:
Photo Credit: meme.xyz
Things to do with Kids: Money Saving Tips
Plan your Meals
I create a weekly menu, set up a shopping list to suit my grocery budget and go to the shops only once a week. This prevents any spontaneous and unnecessary purchases.
Stretch your Meals
When setting up a menu, I try and stretch some of the food to cover two meals. For example, roast chicken leftovers are great in a chicken mayo salad or roll the next day. Mince can also be bulked up with lentils or beans and eaten as a pasta dish one night as well as sloppy joe toasties the next.
My eldest loves going to the shops as he always gets a little treat (to keep him busy) and he loves buying things we do not need. So, as far as possible, I shop alone and on the odd occasion when he insists on joining me (he can be quite persuasive), I tell him beforehand that he can only get a juice for example.
Shopping online is also a great alternative.
Avoid Ready-made Food or Prepared Fruit and Vegetables
These are convenient, yes, but they are also expensive and are therefore real budget busters. I like to buy bulk vegetables like butternut, sweet potato, carrots and even mushrooms which I cut and prepare and freeze raw into meal-sized portions. To cook, I simply add the frozen vegetables to boiling water or to whatever meal I am cooking (do not defrost as they will spoil). This also saves time when I cook as the vegetables are already prepared.
Similarly, fruit can be cooked and frozen as purees or a compote and can be added to porridge or yoghurt for breakfast. Bean also loves compote or apple sauce as part of his lunchbox.
As with any rule, there is always an exception and in this case, the exception is roast chicken. More often than not the ready roast chicken sells for cheaper than a raw whole chicken. Always check the prices.
Know your Prices and Shop Specials
Retailers are always running specials, and I always buy in bulk when the special is worthwhile.
Note that sometimes a shop will say something is on special but it might still be cheaper elsewhere. It is therefore important to know the average prices.
Also, avoid buying something that you do not need and probably won’t use simply because it’s on sale. The item might be cheaper than normal but you still end up wasting money.
Buy in Bulk
Shops often run specials on bulk items (buy 2 kg of potatoes, 2 kg of sweet potato and 2 kg of tomatoes at a reduced price for example or the R100.00 deals at Makro) and it is prudent to make use of these, but again, only if you will use the items on special.
Cook in Bulk
If I have bought food items in bulk, I often make bulk meals and freeze the leftovers into single meal portions as this saves time as well as money. For example, I always have a tomato sauce, bolognese sauce and soup in the freezer.
Be Energy Smart
Electricity is expensive so switch off lights and appliances and unplug charger cables when not in use. Also, be sure to invest in energy efficient lighting and heating solutions and avoid boiling the kettle 100 times a day by storing leftover boiled water in a flask.
Research Budget-friendly Kids Entertainment
Kids don’t need fancy toys or expensive outings to be happy and to feel loved. All they really need is quality time with their families and there are so many free activities to choose from which are guaranteed to up the family laughter and fun. Read our blog on 35 Free Summer Family Fun Activities as well as 15 Easy and Free Indoor Activities for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers.
With this I don’t mean that you have to stop socialising or having your friends and family over, you just have to stop paying for everything. There is nothing wrong with a ‘bring and braai’ or splitting the meal up in such a way that everybody brings something. In our family, for example, someone will bring a starter, another person will bring dessert and the host usually supplies the main. This way, everybody contributes financially to a fun family lunch or dinner and nobody is left standing behind the stove all day.