Want To Know How We Keep Our Groceries to $85? This is EXACTLY how we do it!

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Want To Know How We Keep Our Groceries to $85? This is EXACTLY how we do it!

After we published our article on how we spend only $85 a week on groceries to feed our family of 5 (you can read the original article here), we had lots of mums asking how we do it.

They wanted specifics, and I totally understand. I gave my strategies, but I didn’t explain exactly what that looks like in real life. Whenever I have read articles like this I have wanted to know exactly how they do it as well.

The reality is, the food we are eating is very basic. As with a lot of families, the $85 is all I have and I have to make it work.

If we run out of something, we have to make do until we can use the next weeks budget. We just ran out of tomato sauce (the kids LOVE tomato sauce) and now they will just have to wait until next week to get some more.

Its tough, but it’s the reality. There is just no wriggle room in our budget.

That being said, we are still eating really well. For the most part, I think we are actually healthier now.

There is less processed food, almost everything is made from scratch, definitely no take away.

Planning really is the key, and I made that my first point of the previous article. You have to go into the shop with a list and you really really need to stick to it. You also need to have written that list AFTER you have planned the weekly meals.

I use the meal planner template below (you can download it – just click the link at the bottom of the article). Then I use our customized shopping lists that are templated for the layout of the different major supermarkets, so you aren’t likely to miss anything and they follow the way you will move through that specific shop. Since we go to Aldi so often I usually just use that template.

This is what our weekly meal plan looks like:

Breakfast time!

Breakfast: Cereal or Toast. Maybe an egg. The kids mostly have weatbix which is very budget friendly.

Lunch: Sandwiches or Soup.

I make up a big batch of soup on a Sunday and it will last the whole week.

Dinners: Spaghetti Bolognese, Homemade (and basic) pizza, Bacon and Mushroom Risotto, Quiche, Homemade Baked Beans, Homemade Vegetarian Burritos, homemade burgers and Chickpea Curry.

This is on average, we will have different things but these are the staples. If I can make a big enough batch then the leftovers are able to be eaten for lunch the next day too.

You can see how the ingredients are interchangeable between some of the meals. For example, I can use zucchinis for spag bol, quiche, and chickpea curry. The tomato paste is in spag bol, pizzas, and homemade baked beans. The salad is used in burritos, burgers and with the quiche. Bacon is in the quiche and the risotto.

Bacon, mushroom and pea risotto

The recipe I use for Burger Patties can be found here and it makes 10 patties which do us for 2 weeks. We can use the salad ingredients as well for this and cut up our own potatoes as chips.

Sometimes we have a basic dinner, toasted sandwiches, eggs on toast. Occasionally we will even let the kids have weatbix for dinner – and they think it is the best ever!!!

This menu isn’t heavy on meat, which helps the budget too. I always buy some bacon as it is such a great staple and it can be used sparingly to provide flavor to so many meals, soups, risottos, weekend breakfasts, slow cooker meals.

I bulk out meals where I can – so for spaghetti bolognese, I will use 500g of mince, a grated carrot, a grated zucchini, 400g tin lentils, 400g tin diced tomatoes, pasta sauce and tomato paste to make a HUGE batch that lasts for 2 nights. Last night it fed 4 adults and 3 kids and there were still leftovers. I also cook a bit more pasta and make it pasta heavy.

We make pizza dough, bread, choc chip cookies, banana bread and garlic bread from scratch. I also make my own stock either from an old chicken carcass or leftover vegetables. It can save a lot of money over the course of the week.

My homemade bread.

Our shopping list almost always includes:

– Apples
– Bananas
– 1 x tomato
– 1 x lettuce
– Zucchini
– Mushrooms
– Carrots (every second week)
– 1 x broccoli
– 2kg Potatoes
– 1 x 500g mince
– Tinned lentils
– Tinned tomatoes
– Pasta Sauce
– Toddler Nappies (every second week)
– Wipes
– Tinned beans (as needed)
– Milk 3 ltrs x 3
– Large Greek Yogurt 1kg (every second week)
– Coffee pods
– Bacon
– Eggs
– 500g Butter
– Plain Flour
– Self Raising Flour
– Chicken Crimpies
– 1kg Cheese

This is usually the basis of our shopping list and then I will add things as needed based on the meal plan and any extra condiments we might need. Often you only need to buy some things once a month.

Bella’s Lunchbox – this one is slightly fancier than usual as I put it on Instagram…

Bella’s lunchbox is healthy but not fancy. I will usually include some of the homemade baking, a sandwich, 2 fruits and some cheese and biscuits.

The key to it all is organization. If I go to the shops without a list, I will spend more. I have to take the time to plan to make sure we are maximizing our budget. I can’t emphasize this enough. You will not be able to fluke this – you will have to be fully committed to reducing your grocery budget AND be willing to spend a fair bit of time in the kitchen for this to work.

You can download the templates I use below.

Let me know if I missed anything out! Or if you have any further tips to share – tell us in the comments!


Katie -


Katie is the Managing Director and Editor of Mums of Brisbane. Most days will find her drinking copious amounts of coffee, cuddling her kids and trying not to step barefoot on lego. Katie lives in Beautiful Brisbane with her husband and four gorgeous children.


    • Kylie
    • May 10, 2018

    So I’ve been thinking obiut this list all week, but have been wandering about all the extras, for example cleaning products, toiletries, laundry ect, do these come within your budget or are they extra $$$. These are the things that blow my budget and have not figured out how to cut their cost


    1. mm
      • Katie
      • May 10, 2018

      Hi Kylie, this list includes nappies (once a fortnight from Aldi), wipes weekly and cleaning gear once a fortnight or every 3 weeks. If I have to buy a lot of cleaning stuff it usually brings it up to $100 – but often within the $85 I can get dishwasher power, liquid and soap. This list includes toiletries as well. I have to be really ruthless, no extras AT ALL. No wriggle room, to keep it at $85 a week. Good Luck! Katie x

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