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 post is sponsored by Countdown.

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Sally is the Community Manager here at Kiwi Families. She fills her time with her handsome, busy boys and her handsome, busy husband; trying out new recipes and researching and writing about family life in Aotearoa.

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