It can be difficult to stay on budget while grocery shopping for a family.
Not only do you have different tastes to cook for, you also have to avoid pester power in the queue for the checkout and try to pick the most nutritious meals possible.
Many families find they underestimate how much they will spend on food and find that food shopping eats up an enormous chunk of their disposable income.
So, we’re truly in awe of Australian mum Penina Petersen, who has devised a system to feed her family for €30 per week or just over €1 per meal.
Penina is a money-saving blogger, whose thrifty ways have helped her family out of €35,600 debt to owning their own home.
She has now brought out her own book entitled $1.50 Dinners, teaching busy parents how to buy and prepare extremely cheap meals.
The mum-of-two said she found grocery prices incredibly high and decided to shop around to find the best value when devising her plan.
“I spent six weeks just shaving off costs,” she said. “I’ve tried online shopping with Coles and Woolies, Aldi, the local greengrocer. Aldi won — this system is the most cost-effective.”
Naturally on such a strict budget, some foods such as steak are out the window, but she has whipped up tasty meals such as pesto pasta, pea and ham soup, chicken pie and chili con carne.
“It’s eating on a budget, but we call it ‘budget gourmet’ ”, she said, adding her 11- and six-year-old kids “loved every meal I’ve cooked”.
She’s now whittled down the cost of her groceries to just €120 per month, according to news.com.au.
This plan also requires some serious cooking time, Penina spends one whole Saturday in the kitchen, preparing meals for the rest of the month.
She then freezes the meals and enjoys having her evenings free to relax and spend time with her kids.
Prior to developing this system, Penina says she often overspent while grocery shopping.
“We’ve been doing it for three months now,” she said. “If I don’t plan and don’t have a system, it’s €143 a week for our family — I’ll just go to the shops and randomly buy stuff. We’re saving €72 a week, over three months that’s €855.”
“It’s so easy to go in and buy random stuff, and because of that lack of planning, people’s grocery bills are often in the €143 a week mark,” she said.
“The strength of the marketing is often the reason people don’t meet their budgets, so this is really a guide.”
Penina was overwhelmed by the response to her previous budget-friendly menu planning book, Table Tucker.
“I get sad letters, saying, ‘I’m a pensioner, your book has really helped me’ ”, she said.
“This is an extension of that, and over time I’ve been refining these systems to make people’s lives easier while also saving a hell of a lot of money.”