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How I Reduced My Family's Supermarket Spend By $10,000 A Year

There is no doubt that a major cost for most households (and probably the most common area of overspending) is of course… food.

It is an area of our budget that my husband and I struggled with for years, even before we had kids.

We were never big spenders when it came to clothes, fine dining or holidays and used to wonder why, despite being on a good income, we always struggled to save.

That was until I took a close look at our food budget and realised we were spending a whopping $400 a week on food! If you think we dined at five star restaurants every day of the week, you would sadly be mistaken.

We were busy and tired, which meant that we were paying a hefty price for convenience.

Natasha was spending too much on food, even before she had children. Image: Supplied

In addition to overspending on our groceries, we didn’t pack our lunch, and twice a week we would resort to ordering dinner, meaning that a lot of our food at home would end up going to waste.

And it turns out that we are not alone.

According to FoodWise, Australians throw out a massive 20 percent of the food they purchase (that equates to one out of every five shopping bags!) and 40 percent of the average household bin is food.

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And the main reasons we throw out all this food? Last minute takeaway dinners because we’re too tired to cook, we don’t stick to a shopping list and we buy too much.

Whatever your weakness, there is no doubt that most of us could be better with how much we spend on food. The key is staying organised.

Here are 10 simple things you can do to seriously cut back on your food spend and in the process save yourself thousands of dollars:

1. Start meal planning

Rather than roughly buying what you think you will need, write a detailed meal plan and shopping list. This way you can be sure to only buy what you need and use what you buy.

2. Always check your pantry, fridge and freezer first before shopping

According to Foodwise, 60 per cent of what we throw out is fresh food and leftovers. So get in the habit of using up what’s available in the fridge before heading out to the grocery store or local takeaway.

3. Keep it simple

Forget the fancy recipe books and stick to recipes that you know and that are quick and easy to make. Not only will this help keep your grocery bill down, it will mean you’re less likely to give in to takeaway.

4. Cook in bulk

Make one large dish a week and put the leftovers in the freezer for those nights when you’re in a bind.

5. Shop online

If you struggle to stick to your list or are too busy to shop, then take advantage of online shopping.

With click and collect there are no fees and you can pick up the groceries on your way home from work. Add to this your rotating meal plan and you can really save time by automating your weekly orders.

6. Avoid the packaged stuff

Do as much as you can to stick to seasonal produce. Image: Getty

Try to avoid the middle aisles of the supermarket and do your best to stick to seasonal, fresh produce -- it’s the packaged stuff that gets expensive!

7. Take advantage of your slow cooker

If you struggle for time or energy to cook after work, then the slow cooker is your friend. Pop it on before you go to bed or before you head out for the day and return home to a delicious home cooked meal.

8. Go meat free

We all know that lean meat is more expensive than vegetables, so swap out the weekly roast or steak dish with a vegetarian risotto or pasta instead.

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9. Switch to a cheaper supermarket (or buy home brand)

It took some effort to change our habit, but by switching to Aldi we reduced our weekly food spend by over $3,000 a year.

10. Cut back on alcohol and junk food

My daily coffee and chocolate habit may not have seemed like much, but over the course of the year added to a whopping $3,500.

Check your bank account and grocery receipt to see what the biggest drain is on your cash flow, and look at ways to scale back.

Featured image: Supplied/Getty