Townsville's Saver Plus co-ordinator Nikki Storey with son Ryan
Townsville's Saver Plus co-ordinator Nikki Storey with son Ryan

‘$15 a day can feed the family’

A  TOWNSVILLE money-saving expert says $15 a day is all that is needed to feed a ­family of two adults and two teenage children.

"Assuming a family has no special food needs, I would suggest that on a tight budget you could probably keep it down to about $15 a day, $200 a fortnight," Nikki Storey said. "Any family can learn to spend less and save more."

Her comments came after the latest figures from the ­Bureau of Statistics show the cost of living rose 2 per cent last year, the strongest pace of growth in 3.5 years.

Ms Storey is the Townsville co-ordinator for Saver Plus and runs workshops that ­provide financial education for local families on lower ­incomes.

Saver Plus participants are assigned a Saver Plus co-ordinator through a community organisation and open an ANZ Progress Saver account.

The participants set a ­savings goal for education ­expenses, make regular deposits into a savings account over 10 months, and attend money minded workshops.

At the end of the program, which is funded by ANZ and the Federal Government ­Department of Social Services, their savings are matched by ANZ, dollar for dollar, up to $500.

Ms Storey said the workshops helped build financial knowledge and confidence.

"Planning is the key to spending less at the supermarket," she said. "If you plan what you will buy before you even go in to the grocery store, it makes it easier to stick to a budget.

"I spend a hundred a week on groceries. Some weeks it's harder, like when the kids have a birthday, but most weeks I don't have any problems keeping to it."

Ms Storey said her $100 weekly grocery budget includes healthy dinner options such as tacos, spaghetti, quiche and salad; stir-fry with noodles or rice and homemade pizza.

"Certain shopping days/times can be better than others for finding bargains and you should check with your local store when they mark down their short-dated stock," she said. "Going on my local stores, it seems that Sunday afternoons are a good time to find dairy and bakery items marked down, as new stock is generally arriving first thing on the Monday morning, so stock ­rotation is needed. Tuesday afternoons can be really good also, particularly for meat ­specials, as the new catalogues and new specials are starting on the Wednesday, so the store is likely to want to clear this stock to make room for the new specials."

Ms Storey said for families on a very tight budget, supermarket brands were a good ­option to reducing the grocery bill.

"I think most people would agree that the supermarket brands are much better quality these days ... and do not differ too much at all from the 'name brands'," she said. "There are possibly some exceptions and these may be a personal choice; however, if you are on a strict budget it is certainly worth the trial and error of ­seeing if you are happy with the product. It can have significant savings."

To find out if you're ­eligible to take part in the Saver Plus program, SMS your details to Nikki Storey on 0418 201 533 or email her nikki.storey@thesmithfamily.com.au

TOP TIPS

1. Always plan your meals in advance and make a list before you go shopping

2. Plan meals around items you already have in the fridge/cupboard

3. If you shop in-store (and don't use online Click & Collect services), always check mark-down areas for bargains - remember though, needs not wants

4. Study your weekly catalogues and look for specials - Woolies, Coles and IGA in Townsville are generally quite close, so travel if the specials are worth it

5. Use the unit pricing to make sure you are really making a good saving when something is on special

6. Buy home-brand products where possible - most items are good quality these days

7. Buy cleaning products, toiletries, hair-care products and toilet paper in bulk when there is a really good special

8. Check your `cheapie' shops such as The Reject Shop for toiletries, hair-care and cleaning products

9. Use your loyalty/rewards cards to build up points (you need to shop anyway, so swipe those cards and hopefully save some dollars later)

10. Never shop when you are hungry.

SHOPPING TO A LIST

KIRWAN mum Alana Ross spends just $100 a week on groceries.

The mother-of-three says one of her secrets to sticking to her tight grocery budget was shopping with a list.

"If I have a list I tend to stick to it," she said. "If I don't have a list it is so easy to impulse buy, and then there goes the budget."

Alana Ross with her 3 children, Alexis, 13, Gemmaya, 9, and Bobby, 10mths. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Alana Ross with her 3 children, Alexis, 13, Gemmaya, 9, and Bobby, 10mths. Picture: Shae Beplate.

Ms Ross, who juggles part-time work at the Upper Ross Community Centre, with being the sole parent to her three children aged between 13 years and 10 months, said her family enjoyed healthy and hearty meals as part of her $200 a fortnight grocery budget.

"Most of my dinners are not only low cost but they are as healthy as I can with what veggies I can afford to buy," she said. "Some of the family's favourite dinners are meals I ate as a child, such as cabbage stew, beef stew and tuna mornay.

"It's about looking for what's on special and cooking with that in mind."

Ms Ross, who is a graduate of the Townsville Saver Plus program, said she also believed buying food in bulk, and freezing when necessary, was an effective way to reduce the food bill and reduce waste.

"I prepare lunch box favourites such as ham and cheese sandwiches and freeze them to not only save time in the morning but to ensure nothing goes to waste," she said. "I also freeze meals when I do a big cook up which is handy on nights I don't have time to prepare a healthy meal. That also stops me from impulse buying a takeaway dinner for the family if I have a ready-made meal in the freezer.

"Items such as muffins and pizza bread I buy when they are on sale and freeze them. You can buy good quality muffins and pizza bread for half the price when it's on sale."

Ms Ross said planning meals in advance was vital to sticking to a budget.

"I know what the family's dinners will for the fortnight before my big shop and make sure I have enough ingredients to make all those meals," she said. "I only buy fruit and vegetables I know my family will eat. I hate waste and try to make sure any fruit and vegetables I buy are used and not thrown out before it is cooked or eaten."

BUDGET SHOPPING LIST

3 x Home Brand 2L Milk -$6

6 x Home Brand Bread - $6

2 x Home Brand Eggs - $6

(Any) Butter/margarine - $3

2 x 600g Grated HB Cheese- $12

2 x Home Brand 500g Pasta - $2

2 x Pasta Sauces - $4

2 x Home brand tinned tomatoes - $2

(Any) Fruit -$10

Veges (potatoes, tomato, lettuce) - $10

Tinned Spag/Baked Beans - $3

Home Brand Weetbix -$3

(Any) Coffee or Tea - $6

(Any) Laundry Detergent - $5

(Any) Shampoo/Conditioner - $5

2x Home Brand Frozen Veges(eg winter)- $6

Home Brand Rice - $3

Soy Sauce (for stir fry)- $3

Meat (mostly mince and/or chicken)- $45

Jam or other spread/s - $5

Cold meat 4 pack from dairy - $5

Home Brand 6Pk Frozen Pies - $4

(Any) 2 x Frozen Pizzas - $7

(Any) Cordial - $4

(Any) School Snacks - $15

Miscellaneous top up milk, bread/bread rolls, fruit, veges when needed - $20