Cook at home, they say. Then you’ll save money, they say.
Then why is the groceries bill still too damn high?
I personally got myself into this predicament – in April 2019 I found myself spending RM767.95 for groceries?!? For one person?!
Because it *was* abnormally high, I told myself to get my shit together. It kind of worked – in May 2019, the amount went down to RM480.20. Guestimating 100 homemade meals a month, that’s RM4.80 per meal.
And – not to brag or anything – I eat well. My meals tend to be healthy, I try my best not to sacrifice nutrition. I think I’m doing well, because I haven’t been sick in years actually.
Here are some changes I made to lower my high groceries bill. As the numbers show you, they worked!
#1 – Eat everything I bought challenge
Sometimes, I don’t get around to cooking or eating the ingredients or food I bought, and that’s like throwing money away, so my first priority was tackling that problem.
And I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household that’s completely okay (and guilt-free) with throwing out excess food. It’s a habit I had to unlearn.
To be fair, I *know* it’s not just us. Many other Malaysians waste food. A lot of food too – in fact, the DPM said that we waste 1kg of food per person per day.
That’s a LOT of money being thrown away.
For the most part, the challenge is easy, but I also had to learn to…
#2 – Be okay with eating the same things in a row
I remember eating my homemade gulai for 7 straight meals last month. Look, I like my gulai, and I thought it turned out decent taste-wise, but I did get sick of it.
This tip goes really well with another well-known grocery-bill-slashing-tip, cooking in bulk.
While it *is* a great tip, you can’t escape the fact that (1) you’d get bored of the same taste pretty soon, and (2) you might also eat more portions and over-eat (which is something I do alarmingly regularly).
But you know, I did enjoy (1) the time saving (a lot less cooking time overall!) and (2) training myself to get used to food-as-fuel.
It’s also interesting to note that eating out became a treat that I really, really enjoy. Instead of being used to it, getting to taste different flavours became a special occasion. So that’s a nice side effect I didn’t expect.
#3 – Prioritising grocery items that last longer
Kind of tied to #1. Part of reducing food wastage is reducing grocery items that spoil easily and fast.
That means now I buy a lot more of:
- Cabbages instead of bok choy
- Carrots instead of broccoli
- Apples instead of grapes
- Frozen spinach instead of fresh ones
- Canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones
Buying frozen especially helped me to reduce a lot of wastage!
This must be my 5th or 6th order already. Happy so far! Everything I ordered has been good 👍😋
— Suraya | suraya.eth (@surayaror) July 21, 2022
#4 – Have a system to track groceries list
At any given point, I know exactly what ingredients I have. So I almost never buy ‘just in case don’t have’ ingredients.
This deserves a whole article on its own: see I Figured Out The Perfect System to Stop Food Waste
#5 – Substituting my protein sources
Usually, the most expensive parts of my groceries bill is the proteins – the meats, seafood and dairy products.
It doesn’t help that I like being on a low-carb diet, so I had to maintain my high protein intake.
But being on a budget is being on a budget, no excuses. I’ve switched it up and been experimenting more with alternative, cheaper proteins. That basically means I’m eating more eggs, tofu, beans and lentils.
The experimenting process has been quite fun actually. I made this awesome bean stew the other day.
What do you do to reduce your high groceries bill?
What does your household do to reduce high groceries bill? Have you tried any of the methods above, and how was it like for you? What habits did you pick up?
Share your thoughts in the comments section!