Rediscovering the art of extreme budgeting

Today's extreme budget bargain.

There is no news story in the fact we are all looking for ways to save money.


Starting a new business has brought back memories of trying to house and feed a young family on a single income when the home loan interest rate was between 17 and 20 per cent.


Then, like now, I had to be mindful of how I spent my money.


Although my family is no longer young and there are two less of us at home I’m still responsible of housing and feeding three of us so I’ve rediscovered the art of extreme budgeting and have reacquainted myself with bargain hunter shopping.


When I say shopping, I’m talking about purchases from the only shops I regularly enter.


Supermarkets.


Grocery shopping is a necessity that can gobble up your money quicker than a teenage boy can eat a takeaway meal but it’s amazing what you can find to fill hungry tummies without emptying the wallet.

You just have to know when to go to the supermarket and where to look.


Or, as I do, who to follow.


I’ve developed a skill of stalking the supermarket employee who is in charge of checking stock expiry dates in the late afternoon.


Okay, that sounds just a little creepy but stay with me.


If possible get in before the 5pm, on the way home from work, rush or go around 7pm when the rush has finished.


The mark down people are usually finished by 5pm themselves so working for myself works for me when it comes to getting the pick of the mark downs.


I usually start tailing them around the bakery, meat, chilled or produce departments because that is where the stock has a shorter use by date.


You might be thinking you can get sick eating out of date products, which is true, but supermarkets can’t sell out of date products. Just very close to so you have to be devoted to food bargain hunting. Do it daily and use what you find straight away and then there are no problems.


Another place to check out in the supermarket is the bottom shelves.


Don’t get fooled by the products on eye height, they are placed there to sell. Stand back and take a little time to compare the products, including the packaged quantity and country of origin if you are so inclined, as well as the total price.

Don’t be fooled by a smaller price tag for smaller amount of the product.


Food bargain hunting is no place to be a brand snob.


Major supermarket’s brand products have come a long way and don’t taste too bad but there are a lot of small labels usually located on lower shelves that are worth trying too.


Check the boundaries.


I’ve been told to check out the stands around the edges of the shop. Movable stands with discounted items pop up there and are always worth a rummage through.


When it comes to a balanced diet don’t forget your veggies.


Keep to the basics and you don’t have to look for a reduced-price label. Besides, this is one area where even the most cash strapped shopper has to agree fresh is best.


Make it stretch


I also work under the fresh is best when making full price meat purchases but counter it with how many meals I can create with a purchase.


Mince is a favourite of mine as it is so versatile. A current hit with my grown children is meat balls and pasta. A $5 beef mince, $2 pasta, some tomatoes, tomato puree (less than a dollar a tin) and a few herbs and spices make a family meal for tonight and one for the freezer.


Tonight I will be feeding three adults tomato and mozzarella boneless chicken kiev with oven baked chips and salad.


The entire family sized meal cost less than $10 and I will have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.


I was going to have veggies with it but because of the 85 percent saving on the meat I lashed out and purchased an avocado. Woo who, living the dream.


The collective purchase of the other salad items a few days ago was less than $9 but this would be the third meal I’ve made out of them and I’ve included a proportion of their purchase into the cost of tonight’s meal.


I hope this has informed someone and would love to hear about any shopping secrets you have.

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Tamworth NSW Australia 
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