Author Topic: Groceries in Australia  (Read 11098 times)

bassman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Groceries in Australia
« on: December 15, 2013, 05:46:58 AM »
G'day,

A quick intro.. I've always lived within my means, but only recently come across MMM after the interview he did with Jesse from YNAB. Since then I've started focusing on my savings rate, currently ~40%, and working on improving to 50% next year and upwards from there. One of my weak points, and areas I need to reduce, is groceries.

Are there any Aussies here who would be able to share how much they are spending on groceries in Australia and any tips to help reduce the monthly outlay. I'm amazed and impressed at how little some people spend in the US on groceries. I'm just not sure it's possible to get down to the same levels over here in Australia. I'm currently spending 1100-1200 a month for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids under 10).

I've started to shop mostly at places like Aldi, and starting doing mustachian things like buying lots of something when it's a great price and I know it will last a while. I'll see how much this helps over the next few months. I haven't tried Costco yet... is it worth doing?

This is a great forum and look forward to hearing your responses! Thanks

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5307
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2013, 06:51:09 AM »
Welcome Bassman. Somewhere on here is a thread on here that has some data comparing US and Aussie food prices...had a look and couldn't find it: but this place is getting huge. From what I remember Aussie food/grocery prices are about 30-40% higher than US.

I spend $200 on food/groceries a month for 1 adult and 2 teenagers. Teenage boys especially eat more than adults, so we probably approximate to your family. When I came to MMM it was much higher, but this is still what I would call luxurious eating. I do Paleo/Primal, and in general we are not big eaters of cheap carbs eg oats for breakfast. I think if one really cut down the luxury, one could easily get $50 a week less.

This is what I do:

-Stockpile cheap non perishables eg Aldi, (my Aldi does not stock a complete range of goods, so its not my regular supermarket), Coles specials, and Grocery.com.au ( be selective, a lot of crap but occasionally out standing value on some times). I know what outstandingly cheap is, like a "buy" price for a share, and I don't buy unless it hits that price. You can save a lot doing this (up to 50%off), but have to be careful not to use more, because you have more at home.

- Buy good quality fruit and vege in season. Coles and my local green grocer have good specials. Don't buy passionfruit when they are $2 a piece just coz you feel like one.  Look for fresh stuff. 

- Cook from scratch. Batch cook and freeze.

- No takeaway

- Bring lunch to work

- Stop waste...freeze leftovers or eat for breakfast/lunch next day. Check food in fridge/pantry- do not let anything go off. Use it. Seek out recipes specifically to use up whatever is threatening to go off.

- We are meat eaters and I buy delicious free range grassfed meat from my butcher. I save by: buy a whole chook, not pieces, buy half a lamb, or portion of a cow. If I buy half a lamb, butcher will butcher it to my specifications. Save bones and make stock. Buy cheaper cuts and slow cook.  Get fat for free and render it to make lard. The meat is more expensive but is not water loaded i.e. it doesn't shrink as much when cooked and tastes a lot better.

- make my own bread, make my own yoghurt. If there is a cheap fruit glut I make jam (which doubles as topping/sauce/flavour for smoothies).

- grow some veges and herbs. No where near self sufficient but definitely supplements.

- stop buying small packets/single serves/convenience items like grated cheese (buy a big block)

- make own laundry detergent (saves  a huge amount) and don't use fabric softener.

- be strict about toiletries/ cleaning products. Keep it simple, use up all miscellaneous products before you buy more ie try to avoid unused/half used stuff hidden up the back and forgotten.


Crikey...long post, got carried away...time for bed





steveo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1944
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2013, 01:35:27 PM »
I shop at Costco and Aldi. I think spending about $1000 per month is where we are at now. I live with my wife and we have 3 kids - 12, 10 & 3.

I don't see any real benefit from shopping at Costco compared to Aldi when it comes to saving money but I do like Costco. Costco has some fancier stuff that I sometimes like to get like fresh Tuna or a big pile of ribs.

Happy - I have no idea how you shop so cheaply.

bassman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2013, 03:27:21 PM »
Wow thanks for the replies. Lots of great ideas for me to get started on there happy. Thanks!

Melody

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1089
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2013, 04:01:01 PM »
$220/month - single girl, likes to cook/entertain.

I go to some indoor markets and get all my produce very cheaply. I also buy a lot of stuff from the asian food store at the markets (in a less trendy suburb than the one I live in so stuff is cheaper). I cook from scratch. I eat meat but not excessive amounts. Maybe 1kg chicken per week and 250g red meat. I buy whatever produce is on special, not what I feel like (lets face it, all produce is pretty yummy!) Stockpiling things like coffee etc when on special. I also use a breadmaker, but not all the time.

The poster doing $200/month for three people is incredible!

Mark31

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2013, 09:04:53 PM »
I also have a household of 2 adults and 2 children under 10.

We spend about $1,000 a month in food/groceries. I'm sure we could spend a lot less if we had to. We live in a major capital city.

First, the things we don't do:
Don't buy home brand or foreign made/owned if an Australian option is available
Don't have a job at the supermarket (5% discount)
Don't have a loyalty card (effective 0.5% discount)
Ever miss out on a range of fresh fruit and vegetables
Miss out on fancy cheeses


What we do do:
Buy $200 gift cards for $190 each
Shop at a variety of retailers
Buy in bulk
Always cruise past our staples, even if we don't need them that week, to check for specials
20% off = buy 3 months supply, 40% off = buy 6 months supply, 50% off = clear the shelves/12 months supply
Chips/chocolate/ice cream/other junk does not come out of our grocery budget - that's a personal spend
We don't really eat meat, and that may make a difference

One member of our household has special dietary requirements, and that increases our costs  - none of that "may contain traces of" for us. It also means we almost never eat out.

Apart from providing a data point for you, I don't have a lot to offer, as we're totally not badass.

I have to say I'm underwhelmed by Aldi -  worth dropping in if you're nearby, but not worth a special trip.

HappierAtHome

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8576
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2013, 10:13:51 PM »
I spend $500 a month for two adults ($250 each) - nowhere near as low as some people here!

Basically:
All meals are planned. I've made a word template I use each week to base meals around what we already have, what's on special and of course, a bit of what we feel like.
Read the catalogues (available online) and stock up when prices are low.
Know your prices - I created a pricebook (which I now never look at, but the process of creating it drilled prices into my brain).
Cook from scratch, minimise meat and other luxuries where you can.
No waste. Use it up before it goes bad.
Freeze leftovers immediately.
Minimise non-food grocery spending by learning which disposable products you can find reuseable alternatives for, and which you can make yourself (cleaning products!).
The entertainment book gives you access to gift cards for Coles and Woolies at a 5% discount - this is worth doing. 

Some complicating factors for us: the BF needs a LOT of calories compared to the average person. He's whippet thin and eats twice as much as I do.
I've recently been diagnosed with health issues that mean I will more or less be eating paleo. Meat is expensive.

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5307
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2013, 11:49:13 PM »
Quote
Happy - I have no idea how you shop so cheaply.

Oooops typo. $200/Week, not per month.

my bad:)

bassman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2013, 12:40:47 AM »
Ah that makes me feel much better. I thought 200 a month was amazing! :)

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5307
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2013, 01:43:35 AM »
Yeah, bet I had everyone sweating.

steveo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1944
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2013, 02:01:18 AM »
Quote
Happy - I have no idea how you shop so cheaply.

Oooops typo. $200/Week, not per month.

my bad:)

That makes sense. I believed you when you wrote it but I couldn't see myself doing that.

kaetana

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 426
  • Location: the Netherlands
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2013, 02:25:16 AM »
This is a great thread! It's always hard to compare my budget to American ones because I feel like I'm spending a lot in comparison! After reading the responses to this thead, I'm feeling better about our grocery budget.

My husband and I used to spend $800 a month for us and his three teenage kids who lived with us at the time. When they moved out, we didn't decrease our grocery spending, so we were spending that much just for the two of us! We managed to drop it down about three months ago to $400 a month for two of us. We're big carnivores and my husband is quite picky (which I tolerate because he cooks!) so we tend to have vol au vents and nasi goreng-stuffed capsicum rather than stir fry and chips - so I feel like we still get fancy eats.
We're still learning, but here's what we've done so far:
- decrease the number of times we do grocery shopping
- start going to Aldi and a local discount butcher
- buy chuck steak really cheap, and pop it in the pressure cooker to make it super tender
- make our own multipurpose cleaner - something my mother-in-law taught my husband
- switch from the commercial Cuddly-type fabric softener to a concentrated kind we found at Aldi - $0.79 makes 2 litres!
- buy more home brand when available (my husband says to make sure to say he sold his soul in doing so)
- use up what we have in the pantry instead of overstocking and having to throw stuff out sometimes years later
- use a breadmaker - this doubled as my Christmas gift to the husband aka the Chef
- make our own yoghurt
- repurpose leftovers, like baking spaghetti or mince into a pie

Having said that, we can definitely still cut back. The tips I'm getting here are awesome. Keep them coming!

The entertainment book gives you access to gift cards for Coles and Woolies at a 5% discount - this is worth doing. 

I've heard of the entertainment book but I've never actually bought it. Maybe I need to look this up! Do you regularly buy discounted gift cards for yourself?

stripey

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 772
  • Age: 119
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2013, 07:17:16 AM »
So looking back over the past few months (excluding months where I was in part or in whole overseas)- looks like I spend about $150-200/month:

- Single, but cook dinners with boyfriend (he foots dinner expenses half the time, so it works out about even)
- Also includes booze from the bottle-O

I think there is room for improvement here, but this is what I do:

- Slow cooker = awesome for making tasty meals for little effort out of tougher cuts of meat.
- Don't eat meat for lunch usually, and only have a meat dinner every second day or so. Savings that could be afforded by this are probably offset by the fact I try and purchase more ethical meat choices. However I deal with meat as a treat, not a necessity.
- Lunch is leftovers.
- Most vegies from farmer's markets (watch them though-- it can be more expensive). I also buy in season- expensive things like mangoes are only for mango season!
- When non-perishables are on sale, I buy ten of them.
- I use home-made cleaners mostly, including home-made laundry liquid (which saves me quite a bit of money)
- I rent but keep a small amount of plants in pots-- as I have been overseas for quite a while though, there isn't much alive at the moment so the $150 - $200 is without home-grown produce. When I select things for plant pots, I choose things with are either much better home grown (e.g. tomatoes), relatively easy (e.g. silverbeet) or irritating to purchase (e.g. potted herbs). The potted herbs make things easier-- purchasing fresh coriander from the supermarket is an expensive exercise.
- I take advantage of food gluts and blanch/freeze. There's lots of lemon juice in my freezer.
- No waste. Everything gets eaten, even if it means 'creative' meal options

Weaknesses:
- Expensive condiments
- Booze
- Little treats like chocolate

Not sure I'm willing to cut back on them though. I love my cooking.

stripey

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 772
  • Age: 119
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2013, 07:24:58 AM »
Forgot to add:

You *can* use diluted hair conditioner + vinegar as fabric softener. Works as well. I think it needs to be the silicone-free stuff.

You also can use vinegar (does work well, put in conditioner tray in front loader undiluted... don't use too much though) or bicarb (dissolved in water, put in conditiner tray in front loader) which also have worked well for me but will depend on the quality of your water-- won't necessarily work well with hard water.

I don't really use that sort of stuff much though. Hope it helps someone though.

HappierAtHome

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8576
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2013, 06:36:00 PM »
The entertainment book gives you access to gift cards for Coles and Woolies at a 5% discount - this is worth doing. 

I've heard of the entertainment book but I've never actually bought it. Maybe I need to look this up! Do you regularly buy discounted gift cards for yourself?

I sure do! Though I've been a little slack lately, I admit, so I've been missing out on my 5% discount lately.

It's pretty easy to log on, order some, and have them delivered. No delivery/other charges so it's a genuine 5% saving. There are also some other retailers included (Big W, I think?) but I've only ever done Coles and Woolies so far.

Of course, the entertainment book costs $65, and you have to factor that in. But we still like to eat out occasionally so we've well and truly made our money back from it (there are a lot of 2 for 1 and 25% off coupons for our favourite restaurants). If you had small children and/or ate more fast food, you could maximise your return on that $65 even more, and there are plenty of movie and other activity coupons too. This is the first year we bought it and I tracked it until the point where we'd saved $300 from it, then couldn't be bothered tracking any more. You only need to spend $1300 on groceries to break even from it.

I believe that the RAC card/membership also entitles you to access discounted gift cards, movie tickets etc but I'm yet to fully investigate that one.

Of course, if you're uber Mustachian and never ever eat out or anything, that would minimise the worth of buying the book :-)

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5307
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2013, 06:24:33 AM »
Quote
20% off = buy 3 months supply, 40% off = buy 6 months supply, 50% off = clear the shelves/12 months supply

I  like this rule of thumb! Its probably roughly what I do, but these days I almost sneer at 20% off, unless I'm desperate for a particular item. I'm not tempted until 30% or more.

bassman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2013, 02:07:10 PM »
Thanks for all of the responses. After reading all these posts here's some of the things I think we can start to do right away:
Buy whole chooks and bigger cuts of meat from a local butcher.
Use the slow cooker more.
Stock up more using the 20, 40, 50% rule above.
Look into making our own cleaning products
Buy a breadmaker (second hand of course)
Plant some herbs in pots.
Reduce waste, though we are quite good at this there's always room for improvement.

I forgot to say our grocery bill does include what we take to work for lunches already. Usually sandwiches or soup or leftovers.

Thanks again for the replies, I'll update this thread in a couple of months with progress.

Kepler

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2013, 03:07:01 PM »
Quote
Happy - I have no idea how you shop so cheaply.

Oooops typo. $200/Week, not per month.

my bad:)

Oh thank god!  I was absolutely baffled...

We've been working on this recently - we've captured a lot of low-lying fruit (our food costs were ridiculous a couple years ago), but can improve things more with further planning.  At the moment, we're around the $1200 mark for four people (two adults, one teenage boy, one astonishingly hungry preschooler) - but that figure includes some things that really need to be disaggregated from the "food and grocery" category, principally medical supplies and some school and work supplies, so the actual spend on grocery and food is somewhere around $1000, but I'm trying to firm up the numbers.

Fresh stuff and meat comes almost entirely from local ethnic markets - we moved last year to a location that made this easy, and that's been an enormous help; staples come from Aldi where it carries them, specials at the major chains otherwise - like others, we stock up on vast quantities of good specials.  Costco is too far away for us (we don't have a car, and the cost savings haven't looked worth, say, hauling things home in a taxi).

We spend less when I can shop and cook than when my partner can, due to difference in cooking experience.  I can wander around the markets, see what's cheap, and plan a meal based on that.  My partner isn't confident enough to substitute, so tends to go with the ingredient list as written.  He's getting better, though, and so our costs are gradually dropping.  I also plan out the use of leftover and stray ingredients, so there's very little waste.

At the moment, we're eating much more meat than normal - long story, but I've had several events over the past year that have resulted in large blood losses, and upping meat consumption works better for me than iron pills.  Our normal diet is more bean-based...  We almost never eat out - both of us cook better than most restaurants, so eating out is largely driven by work obligations.  We don't meal plan very far in advance - we do enough planning to make sure ingredients are used up, rather than wasted, and we keep on hand the staples required to make up several flexible meals that can absorb stray ingredients.  Otherwise, we try to based meals around what's good value at the markets.

bassman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Sydney
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2013, 06:34:33 PM »
We don't meal plan very far in advance - we do enough planning to make sure ingredients are used up, rather than wasted, and we keep on hand the staples required to make up several flexible meals that can absorb stray ingredients.  Otherwise, we try to based meals around what's good value at the markets.

Excuse the novice question, but what kind of staples do you keep on hand to help here?

NumberJohnny5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 626
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2013, 06:51:35 PM »
We budget $80/wk for groceries. Two adults, two kids (age 7 and 4). Actual expenditure is a bit higher, maybe $90/wk or so? But anything over $80 has to come out of another budget (for example, the $20 restaurant budget, or our misc budget of $50/mo).

Most staples are bought at Aldi. Definitely milk, bread, cheese slices, vinegar, flour, sugar, etc. Eggs are so-so price, cheaper at NQR but if we're not going to NQR, Aldi has the next best price. If we're going on an extended grocery shopping trip (rarely with me, often with my wife) then NQR is often the first stop. If cheese (or cereal, or ham, or...you get the idea) is dirt cheap there, then no reason to pick up any at Aldi. We also scan the papers, and if there's a really good price on something (say, peanut butter or nutella around 50c/100g) then we go there first and spend most of the budget there, then limp along with what few staples we can afford at Aldi (I'd rather let the budget build up, gotta pick your battles). I've bought over $60 in peanut butter in one go before (pretty sure they could tell I was American).

Also starting to make more of the basics at home. I.e., make pancakes from scratch instead of using (admittedly, bought on sale) mix. I'm currently experimenting with making my own buttermilk (looks ok, smell's not there but I read it could take a day or two in the fridge to fully set) and yogurt (in the oven now, could be ready as early as tonight).

Our grocery budget includes most cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products (shampoo, toilet paper), etc. It's not a perfect system (I count shampoo if it's bought at Aldi, but not at the Reject Shop), but it works for the most part. With our growing family, I think we'll have to bump up to $90/wk (and maybe a $5-$10/wk bump for restaurants, kids are eating more and more), but I still think we're doing ok.

HappierAtHome

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8576
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2013, 07:55:58 PM »
For those with access to Aldi and the 'big two', have you found Aldi significantly cheaper than Coles and Woolies?

Perth is meant to be getting an Aldi in a few years' time. There aren't a lot of options here currently.

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4500
  • Location: Australasia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2013, 09:08:53 PM »
For those with access to Aldi and the 'big two', have you found Aldi significantly cheaper than Coles and Woolies?

Perth is meant to be getting an Aldi in a few years' time. There aren't a lot of options here currently.

I like Aldi, and while it isn't absolutely the cheapest for everything, assuming no sales/discounts and just going by the standard prices of items, I think it is cheaper overall. E.g. small can of homebrand tuna is $0.79 compared to $0.99 at the big two, I believe. Organic butter is around $3, at the big two it's probably more like $5? Quality-wise, again like everything else it depends on what you buy and you can find out what you like by trial and error.

You can put in products in this Aldi shopping list to see what their prices are like. The list only includes the products they always have, though, so you won't find the one-off specials or fresh produce, which can be different from week to week. https://www.smartershopping.com.au/productsearch.aspx

HappierAtHome

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8576
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2013, 10:20:16 PM »
Thanks limeandpepper, I will compare that to my pricebook and see where it sits.

I think groceries are more expensive in Perth than over East, but only marginally, so it should still be a good comparison tool.

steveo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1944
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2013, 11:12:13 PM »
I think Aldi is significantly cheaper. I think it is saving us as a family about $50 per week.

Ozstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 839
  • Age: 51
  • Location: Oztralia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2013, 12:28:04 AM »
4 adults in my house and we spend $1250 a month on groceries, including non-food items. I'm the only one under 6 feet tall(!), so portion sizes can be only so small in our house. We shop Adli for everything we can, then usually Woolies for the rest. We make most food from scratch and generally avoid pre-packaged food, especially snacks.

I'd like the bill to be lower at around the $1000 mark, but since my two adult kids pay their fair share of the grocery bill, it is an acceptable compromise for me. One of them is trying to bulk up and pays $20 extra a week for the extra food he consumes, so it's pretty fair on all of us.

nora

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 216
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2013, 01:20:09 AM »
We spend $450 a month for two adults and a baby. This includes all cleaners etc also. We shop at Coles almost exclusively. I think we could do better if we ate more chicken drums at $4 a kg,  but I like it as it is.

Coles mark old meat down 40% in the morning so shopping in morning let us pick up thise mark downs, but I have found it smells and tastes a little old So I stopped buying that.

We used to buy coles milk at $1 a litre but now I am working I have been buying paris creek as not homogenised so get all the cream on the top

I don't buy fruit or veg that is over $5 a kg which helps keep things out of the trolley which are too expensive.

We eat coles bread at $1.50 a loaf. There is no way I can make bread at home that cheaply with the breadmaker so I don't do it much anymore. We do buy the hansells greek  yoghurt sachets though and I am planning to start making it from my own starter so don't have to buy sachets so often.

We trade all our credit card awards for coles vouchers.

The deli serveover often has things much cheaper than on the shelves e.g.,feta, ricotta, chicken, ham etc

I have been to Aldi several times and it just seemed like a dump. But maybe I went to the wrong one.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2013, 01:26:10 AM by Nora »

Kepler

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2013, 04:02:48 AM »
Excuse the novice question, but what kind of staples do you keep on hand to help here?

Our staples are things like "bases" for other meals - rice, pasta, various kinds of dried beans (black beans are my personal favourite, but not as budget friendly in Australia as they in the US... chick peas are also common, and lentils and split peas - we may randomly have some other sorts of beans on hand), flours - plus some common "sauce" ingredients - diced tomatoes, coconut milk, fish sauce, oyster sauce, lots of different spices - and some frozen vegetables, canned tuna and things like that.  We usually have milk, a couple different kinds of cheeses, and eggs on hand, although these obviously have to be replenished more often than our other staples.  We make stock from different sorts of bones (chicken feet are very very cheap, and make great stock, but we mainly make stock from bones left over from other meals) and freeze it, so we usually have stock on hand in the freezer.

We keep dried nuts and a bit of dried fruit around as "emergency" foods - they're expensive in themselves but, if we're running behind, need to cook, and the cook is starving, a handful tides everyone over while the food preparation is happening.

We have a bread machine and use it to make fresh bread every couple of days - I have actually found this cheaper than bread from the shops, although this depends on how fancy the ingredients are that you put in.  (I like making bread by hand, but just don't have the time right now, so the bread machine has been a nice compromise: not as good as what I could make myself, but better than most store-bought bread, and can't complain about the time.)

I personally eat leftovers for any meal, so my breakfast is usually whatever we had the night before.  The rest of the family isn't keen on this, so we keep lots of inexpensive muesli-type stuff on hand so everyone can get fed in the morning.

We have a slow cooker/pressure cooker that we use for making stews and soups (good absorbers of random ingredients) and preparing beans in a hurry - the slow cooker function is great for freeing us from the kitchen while something is cooking. Stir fries and curries are good ingredient absorbers, as are omelets and frittatas. 

Kepler

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2013, 04:17:26 AM »
For those with access to Aldi and the 'big two', have you found Aldi significantly cheaper than Coles and Woolies?

Perth is meant to be getting an Aldi in a few years' time. There aren't a lot of options here currently.

My sense with Aldi is that the prices are often comparable to home brand from the majors, but the quality can be better (this depends though - you have to sort of test out what works).  Specials from the majors can be better than Aldi prices - but Aldi has some very good specials themselves (and also some 'specials' that really aren't good deals at all - you have to have a sense of the standard prices elsewhere).

I've also had varied experiences with different Aldis - the one near us now is very new, and the quality of fresh foods there is quite good (although usually not competitive on price with the local ethnic markets, so we generally only get fresh stuff from Aldi when there's a good special, or when for some reason or other we've forgotten something we need and can only go there).  The selection, however, is very limited and somewhat idiosyncratic.

While the price is generally good on staples, I personally get annoyed at the sizes of the packaging: the per unit cost is competitive with big bulk packages elsewhere, but I'd prefer not purchasing, say, 20 tiny packages of rice or whatever...  It feels like a waste of materials...

If we used a car, and could get around to places that sell properly in bulk, we could beat the Aldi price for many staples - but then we'd need to factor in the car operating costs.  I run this calculation periodically, and it never balances out, but if people already have cars (or are close enough to bulk places that bike trailers are realistic options), it could work out better buying in bulk from elsewhere.

For other US expats: I found buying in bulk /much/ easier in the US than in Australia - I don't know if I'm doing something wrong and just not finding the right places?  I can get large quantities of rice locally, and bulk spices, but can't seem to find anything else that doesn't need shipping at a fair distance, where the shipping costs entirely offset any bulk savings (I'm in a major metro area, so not particularly isolated).  I feel like there must be better options that I'm just missing... 

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4500
  • Location: Australasia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2013, 04:45:17 AM »
While the price is generally good on staples, I personally get annoyed at the sizes of the packaging: the per unit cost is competitive with big bulk packages elsewhere, but I'd prefer not purchasing, say, 20 tiny packages of rice or whatever...  It feels like a waste of materials...

Ha, I for one am glad that Aldi doesn't sell in bulk, since I don't have a car, and live in a small apartment!

Kepler

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2013, 07:49:04 AM »
While the price is generally good on staples, I personally get annoyed at the sizes of the packaging: the per unit cost is competitive with big bulk packages elsewhere, but I'd prefer not purchasing, say, 20 tiny packages of rice or whatever...  It feels like a waste of materials...

Ha, I for one am glad that Aldi doesn't sell in bulk, since I don't have a car, and live in a small apartment!

Yeah, no car here either, but the Aldi is really close, and I could dump big bags into our shopping cart if they had them.  We don't have much storage, but have rigged some irregular space for dry goods.  Our freezer is tiny, so we can't store much that needs freezing - stock can be reduced down to fit, and we can keep some vegetables, but not much else.

Bumfluff

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
  • Location: England
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2013, 11:30:14 PM »
Our budget has been around $600 (Aus) per month on groceries for two adults, one almost three year old and a baby. This month however we slipped up and spent $800 so I'll have to work on getting that under control in Jan.

We have an Aldi and I find it on average around 25% cheaper than Woolies and Coles. It doesn't have everything we want so we have to top up at Woolies/Coles but the savings are worth the two trips for us.

We save money by:
Growing our own herbs and veg (we also have two misbehaving fruit trees so no mangoes for us this year sadly)
Making our own yoghurt
Buying rice and pasta in bulk
Shopping at the Indian supermarket for curry pastes etc.
Shopping late on a Friday afternoon and taking advantage of the "fill a bag" specials on fruit and veg - great for smoothies and baby food!
DH always takes his lunch to work
Try to avoid pre-packed foods (e.g. DD loves those little packets of sultanas so we chose a cute reusable snack box and I buy big bags of sultanas instead which saves a fair bit and means I always have them on hand for baking too)
I bake snacks such as muesli bars and savoury muffins
I head straight for the "reduced for quick sale" section (next to the butter in my Woolies) and see if there are any bargains
Meal planning
Buy Supermarket gift cards to take advantage of petrol savings or points

We are getting a Costco nerby soonish but I don't know much about them/whether they represent good value.


Nudelkopf

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 899
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2013, 04:34:49 AM »
Are there any Aussies here who would be able to share how much they are spending on groceries in Australia and any tips to help reduce the monthly outlay.
I'm single, female, and a very lazy cook. I averaged $50/week this year. (My budget's in my sig.) I shop exclusively at Coles (it's within the quickest biking/walking distance). My only saving grace in my budget is that I'm single.. It'd be crazy expensive if I added other people into the mix!

radek

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2017, 06:05:33 AM »
Just to refresh the topic with some more recent (2017) info here is the link comparing the major chains: https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/everyday-shopping/supermarkets/articles/cheapest-groceries-australia.

Bee21

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 483
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2017, 03:09:10 PM »
150-170 a week for 4. That includes household supplies and toiletries.My husband eats a insane amount of food, mostly meat and has to have icecream in the freezer. He is also a bit of a princess about chicken w bones, so no wings or drUmsticks.

I do woolies (have good yell9w sticker deals on meat), coles and aldi. I abandoned aldi when i had small kids as entering the shop via the snack aisle was insane and i often fell victim to the stuff on the middle aisle, but I went back after the little one started school and its been great. I avoid the middle though. The fruit and veg quality improved a lot in the past 4 yrs.

I menu plan, for 4 weeks.  Batch cook and freeze lunches ( i just made 10 burritos and 5 burgers for the man, i have portion controlled chicken lunches, the kids have lasagna, MAc n cheese and shep pie. i leave a batch of frozen food for them once a week and the ladies at Afterschool care heat it up for them.) Dinner is always meat and some starch and lot of veg. Fruit is whatever on special.

I don't buy snacks, bakery items, juices and always stock up on nonperishables when they are 50%off.


11ducks

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 562
  • Location: Duckville, Australia
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #34 on: November 03, 2017, 04:17:01 PM »


We budget $120/week for two adults and a large teenager.  I first visit a local fruit/veg wholesalers on Saturday morning, grab specials ($10-$15), then come home and plan meals around them - then go to Coles (closest).
 
Meal planning is a must, along with alternating between meat and non-meat meals.
I try to stretch out meats in meals, for example, will use one chicken breast in a stirfry, with lots of veg and rice, or half of a 500g pack of mince for spaghetti Bolognese (with beans).

Example of a week of meals:

Breakfast
-Quick oats, coffee, raisin toast. Cereal if its on sale. Occasionally homemade pancakes  (flour, egg, milk, with lemon/sugar topping).

Work lunches for me-
I aim to bulk cook a meal in the slow cooker over the weekend, and take that for lunch daily. This week was an Indian-type curry (potato, carrot, lentils, tomatoes, spices), which I had with fruit, crackers and my water bottle. When I'm organised I try to freeze a couple of meals, so I can alternate my lunches to avoid boredom.

Lunches for DS/DH (DH has the palate of a teenage boy).

piece of fruit, chopped up carrot, sandwich or wrap, chopped up sausage, mini flapjacks with jam or a cupcake (homemade), pack of chips/biscuits. 

Snacks - biscuits/chips, instant noodles, whatever fruit/veg I bought that week and whatever snacks were cheap. I try to cook muffins/biscuits 1x a week.

Dinners
-Stirfry (chicken, veg, vermicelli, sauce made from whatever we have)
-Spaghetti Bolognese (250g mince, passata, veggies grated in, pasta)
- Dahl or curry (an indian dish with lentils or beans and spices)
- Pizza and chips (the coles brand stone bake, with extra cheese added)
- Burritos/nachos etc (1ch breast, with beans to bulk it out)
- Fried rice or Carbonara (both with veg and a bit of bacon)
- Leftovers / easy meals night with salad

A lot of things will last us more than a week (a 4 pack of ch breasts, cheese, eggs, 8kg bag of rice).

I shop carefully, mostly buy cheaper brand stuff, and try to make things last. Also, I (Carefully) take advantage of the coles flybuys deals (like, spend $100 a week for 4 weeks to get $50 worth of points). We save our points throughout the year (we are up to $120 now), and I just cashed them in for $120 worth of Coles gift cards. We then use this for an annual Christmas grocery trip(will buy a few hams/chickens, some Christmas treat foods, ginger beer, candy canes/xmas cards, a box or two of chocolates for unexpected gifts).

Astatine

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3623
  • Location: Australia
  • Pronouns: they/them
Re: Groceries in Australia
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2017, 09:47:38 PM »
Our food shopping habits haven't been great for the past few months and I don't know how much we're spending.

But, in general Aldi is cheapest for most things. We also try to buy as much of our groceries from the small independent grocery stores (like Asian grocery stores, Halal greengrocers etc). Some of their food can be cheaper than even Aldi (hello 2kg yoghurt for $7). Plus, I value supporting diversity and small local businesses in the shopping centres and malls. I don't want to see just the big two plus Aldi.