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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thrifty Household Economics

It's very rare for us to go to the "big" stores. A lot of food we source from the garden, fresh in season and stored for out of season. So far I have bottled (canned) 100kg of food this summer.
I buy flour, vinegar spices and delicatescen type items from the local hospitality supply store once every couple of months. Incidentals we buy from the local corner store (who is quite competitively priced and stocks a lot of Australia made product).
As for cleaning products I use mostly water and enjo cloths. We buy washing powder in a big 20kg bucket when it is on sale at the hardware store. For ways to make washing powder go further see my click here for my Laundry post
We use one box of cling wrap a year (usually covering platters) as we use Tupperware for food storage and food transportation.
I don't miss shopping in those supermarkets one bit! 
A lot of what we buy is in bulk; it's cheaper that way, it uses less packaging and it takes less freighting (ie: I use petrol economically to fetch it less often and less packaging to dispose of too), it has less of an environmental footprint this way.
There is no use driving across town chasing specials if you are going to spend $10 on petrol "saving" money!
There are two requirements for shopping this way; planning and flexibility.
You need somewhere to store bulk items for a start. You can't buy 10kg of flour and then put it in the garage, you have to store it so that it is accessable and vermin proof. Through trial and error you get to know very quickly the quantities you need to get you from month to month.
I say flexibility, because sometimes you will see something on sale that may not have been in the budget but is going to save you a heap in the long term.
For instance; I bought 1kg of peppercorns for $10 because the bag was an end line and it was split. The peppercorns weren't going to go off, but I did have to find $10 in my tight budget. The average supermarket price for peppercorns is $1/10gm....THAT'S $100 PER KILO buying it that way!!!
Another thing I do is to go halves in some larger items with family members; like a whole ham or a wheel of cheese etc.
So be prepared but flexible if you can. Know what you can store. Know what things cost.

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