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Have a taste for champagne but on a hamburger budget?
If you’re as involved in the Financial Independence community as I am, you may notice hot topics such as ‘How to reduce your grocery bill to $0 and subsequently lose all your winter weight’ or ‘How to survive on sawdust but have a 90% savings rate’. Ladies and gentlemen, you certainly won’t find those blasphemous posts around here.
I often joke that if I could follow one career path, I would be a glutton. Sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am I to disagree?
If you’re like me and have a an appetite like a hungry hippo but a wallet the size of a peanut, some creative thinking needs to come into play in order to get the gourmet food that your heart and stomach desires. How do I afford my Persian Feta and Tasmanian Smoked Cheddar and eat it too?
Below are my three frugal ways to afford to eat like a hipster without breaking the bank:
ONE: Know where to find quality, fresh produce at wholesale prices.
If you’re a gourmand but on a budget, gourmet food ‘markets’ like The Boatshed, Wholefoods or the like are your arch-enemies. Why? Because everything is amazingly Instagram-worthy and yet ridiculously expensive at $100 for a teaspoon of quinoa.
If you love your cheese, ‘wholesale to consumer’ markets will often buy bulk dairy or meat produce in bulk, repackage it into consumer-sized quantities and sell for a low price. As a major cheese fiend, the cheese tastes so much better when you pay $3.50 for a quarter wheel of camembert instead of $15 for a branded wedge.
For Sydney-based shoppers, my go-to dairy, meat, fruit and veg market is Harris Farm Markets. An equivalent in Perth is Farmer Jacks. Both supply their fresh and dairy produce directly from wholesale markets so the transport time is shorter and the produce is fresher and lasts for longer.
One of the main reasons I shop here is due to Harris Farms’ ‘imperfect picks’ which are fruit and vegetable which do not meet major supermarket standards due to unusual size or slightly flawed skin. Prices are ~50% off of what you’d normally pay and it helps reduce food waste. With the majority of my groceries being fresh produce, I save a lot of money buying those curvaceous, misshapen imperfect fruits.
TWO: Buy in bulk when on sale, but only if you have a plan for it.
Buying in bulk when produce is on sale can save a lot of money. However, if there is no plan to use the produce is just stored in a pantry or freezer and not used then regardless of whether you paid full price or reduced, it’s still being wasted. Australians throw away 1 out of every 5 shopping bags, which equates to $1,036 of groceries every year. Don’t buy in bulk for the sake of receiving money – if you don’t use it you’re not saving money, you’re throwing away money.
On of my favourite bulk-buys is smoked salmon when on sale. Full price is ~$60 a kilo, and on special I often find it for $25 a kilo. When I get lucky I stock up, divide into portions and freeze. It’s easy to defrost and tastes amazing on a fresh bagel with cream cheese and thinly sliced red onion!
THREE: Discover any local weekend markets in your area.
There’s a common misconception that local markets are places where overpriced, organic produce is sold. More often than not, the produce at local markets are farm-direct so fresher, of higher quality and cheaper. Herbs are often much cheaper, and you’ll have a better range of fruit and vegetable that will last at least a week or two as it’s farm-direct (double the time of supermarket bought produce). One of my favourite finds at the markets in summer is fresh watermelon and mint and make the most delicious frozen watermelon mocktails at home!
Do you have any tips that help you buy quality groceries at an affordable price? Or any challenges you have with your grocery shopping? Share your comments below!
xx Miss Piggy
Cover illustration by Lena Ker