Stretch your family’s food budget with Countdown’s Price Lockdown


It’s one of the fastest comparisons I tend to make when I’m at a new supermarket: wander around, find familiar items, do a few calculations in my mind and work out whether it’s a good deal or not. With a family to feed and a budget to stick to, I’m always looking for a bargain!

One of the best ways to get on top of the family budget is to plan your weekly grocery spend and knowing that some staple products will always be at a low price can help with this. Here are some great ways to save money and help you stick to your budget.

Look out for low prices every day at the supermarket

Since October 2013, Countdown has been making groceries cheaper for kiwis through their Price Lockdowns. These are all about reducing the everyday price of the grocery items families buy most often, including popular Homebrand white and wheatmeal bread to just $1, Homebrand tinned tomatoes for 80c a can or Peckish Rice Crackers at just $2. And not just for a while – for the long term.

Knowing that products won’t change price regardless of the season or store location means New Zealand families can plan their weekly grocery budget and avoid budget blow outs.

Learn to Bake…or if you already can, put it into practice!

I’m amazed when I’m out and about with my son and see a humble gingerbread man in a little packet on a cafe bench, going for $4. These ginger guys are endlessly popular with small children… but for $4 I could make you a huge batch of gingerbread men complete with a few icing details and even a lolly or two.

Sure, it takes some time, but whether you have one child that loves a treat, or several – the savings are certainly going to add up if you stick with it. This is especially the case if you’re smart when you buy your baking basics. Countdown’s Homebrand sugar and flour have both been on Price Lockdown for many months. That means you can plan out the cost of your home baking more accurately before you shop, and you can see clearly how much cheaper it will be for you than buying the ready-made product.

Baking freezes well, and a double batch takes minimal extra time and effort to achieve. In my experience, people overestimate the effort, cost and time involved in baking. Once you learn a recipe, you can whip it up in minutes.

Plan your meals

You can almost guarantee less waste if you know what you plan to cook before you enter the supermarket. If you spend a small amount of time writing down a list of meals for the week and the associated items you need to cook them, you will be on the road to less wastage (and less dollars down the drain). By including stable priced items in your meals, you know week to week, month to month the budget will not be blown.

Saving time and money

If you’re working to a fairly tight budget, it helps to know how much a meal will cost to make for your family in advance. Knowing that a commonly-used item will be consistently well-priced is the easiest way to do this – keeping track of your family’s favourite items in a notebook alongside their regular prices is one way to do this.

For example, we use wraps/tortillas in our house most weeks. Since Countdown significantly reduced the price on their Homebrand wraps (another great Price Lockdown!), which come in a bulk pack, I’ve been able to save a considerable amount over time on our grocery bill. It’s the same story with canned tomatoes- we go through a lot of them! I can rely on the price of good quality Italian tomatoes and know roughly how much a meal based on these will cost even before I check out the specials. This saves time and money.

Meat free nights

If you can get your family to go meat-free one, or a few or more nights per week, you can cut your costs on the grocery bill. Or stretch your meat a little further – research what size a meat portion should be. You might be surprised how much extra you are making/paying for!

With a little thought, there are a lot of ways you can save precious dollars on your family food budget. Plan ahead, keep your eye for great deals like Countdown’s Price Lockdowns, and give making your own a go. You’ll be amazed at what you can save!

This posts is sponsored by Countdown.

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This is the last article in my essential style series, so it is entirely appropriate that it be on the ‘finishing touch’: How to ‘dress’ the part of your body which remains unclothed.  Continue reading »

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“Good morning/afternoon! How can I help you today?”

I have long since lost track of how many times I’ve said this line in the years I’ve served as a shop assistant. I’ve certainly heard my share of ‘just looking’, ‘no thank-you’, and the classic Possum-in-Headlights stare. Continue reading »

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It’s hard making that decision as a parent to let your young teenager go out certain places in the first place, right! If you read my previous post on questions to ask your teen before saying yes to going out, you’ll already have thought about about some questions you might like to ask your teen before they head out on their own.  Continue reading »

How I’m catching up with technology

man confused by computer
I learned the word “Luddite” a few years back when someone remarked that I’m likely one, because I had this suspicious disdain for buzz-whirring gadgets and technology. Could be I’m a grumpy old curmudgeon before my time, but one thing is for sure: when it comes to modern digital machines, I’ve been left behind.

I went to the bank today. We just switched banks (to shorten a long story), and I had been given a booklet with a “customer number” written in it. The booklet says enter your customer number in the appropriate place on the web site, then enter your four digit PIN, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have one of those, so I’m stuck here at step two. I needed a person to help. A real live person.

The fella looked at me with pity – or could he have been astonished at my diminished capacity to comprehend the apparently simple instruction to choose a PIN. I suppose he’d look at any befuddled old man the same way, even though he surely out-aged me by a decade. He turned his computer monitor my way and showed me the web site. Showed me how to download “the app.” And when he was done, he looked at me and didn’t say anything, and I knew it as the look of will there be anything else? So I confirmed we were done with one another, and yes we’re done. Your card will work. Internet banking is set up. Swipe here to see the settings on the app. And welcome to the bank.

Well now how about that, I said, and I gathered up my card and ID and the phone with the fancy new banking interface and I went to the grocery store and bought a bag of spinach with my new PIN, and sure enough, seconds later, all the details of the transaction were neatly annotated on my mobile screen.

I’ll be damned, as they say. I’ve never seen the likes of it.

Last week we received a physical cheque – ink on paper with signatures and all that jazz – from our bank in the US. They wouldn’t wire us the money, they said. Surely there’s some way around the call-centre script – a modern Choose Your Own Adventure – that would enable us to initiate the obvious transaction but I couldn’t figure it. So we stood in line at the bank with a piece of paper that had flown six thousand miles from the country who claims the have invented the Internet, but who simply refused to use it to shift that chunk of money over there to this bank over here.

What century do we live in??!! I complained aloud.

I put these two stories next to one another because I can’t make sense of the man who lived them. From affronted to befuddled – when will I feel as though technology is working for me? Thing is, I fell off the track when my son was born, going on five years. If it happened since then, I probably can’t make a lick of sense of it. If it happened prior, maybe a fifty fifty chance.

About the kid: the amount that his mother likes video games is the inverse of my disdain for them, and the boy is somewhere in the middle. Funny thing is he expects I have some magical insights into how the blasted console at home turns on, but I don’t. The two of us sit around frustrated at this fact until his mother comes home and rescues me from a digital wasteland I simply can’t navigate – and then I go cook dinner. Hot steel and fire. Now there’s something I can understand.

Tonight his mother’s away on business and I’m not sure how we’ll entertain one another besides frying chicken and reading Dr Seuss. If all else fails, I might show him this new online number game I learned today. But I won’t tell him it’s just Internet banking.

Managing your digital footprint

boy eats keyboard

Technology is part of our lives and it is not going away. How much you want to let it into your life and for what purpose are questions every one of us is faced with on a daily basis. Technology is a tool I use to make my life, my business and my family’s life easier. I think of the computer and the toaster on the same level; they are tools. I use them when I need them, then I carry on smelling the flowers and enjoying the world around me. Continue reading »

At the end of the day, it is just about balance

screen time family tv

In an age where we literally have an array of technological devices at our fingertips, there are a high number of articles, blogs and opinion pieces espousing the dangers of ‘screen time’ for our young people. At the same time, there are conflicting opinions highlighting the way in which technology can serve to bolster our children’s education and work to support learners as they move through their education pathways. So as parents, how do we distinguish what technology is beneficial for our children and their learning? Whose opinions do we take advice from? Continue reading »

Is buying online the best option?

lady at computer

In today’s busy fast paced world, technology can be a godsend. If you can transact online then that’s one less thing you need to worry about right? The size of the internet has grown so big that as at July 2014, the World Wide Web contains around 3.3 billion pages. We can do our banking online and according to Statistics New Zealand, half of kiwis have now shopped at least once online. Let’s face it: the internet provides us with convenience and flexibility. This is the way of the modern world if we want to keep pace.

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