5 things to do to keep your food budget small

Posted on Categories Budget, Frugality, Spending, Switzerland
5 things to do to keep your food budget low

Our food budget is something that we are managing to keep quite low. Last year, it was still too high. So I changed some of my habits and now we manage to keep our food budget around 400 CHF in average. For two people. This may seem high, but for Switzerland, I think it’s quite reasonable.

To reach this low food budget, we are doing several things. Mainly, the idea is to compare several shops and only shop where you can get the best bargain. If you all the way, you should compare for each product. But who got the time ? The idea is more to select one cheap shop as the main shop and then buy some cheaper things in other shops but less often.

In this post, I’m going to list 5 things we do, and that you could do too, to keep our food budget low.

1. Find a cheap shop

When I started doing my groceries myself, I shopped almost exclusively at Migros. Why ? Simply by habit. My parents were shopping at Migros. So I kept  shopping at Migros without thinking. But then, I started comparing the prices and I found that I could save by shopping mainly at Lidl. For a lot of things, the difference is very small. But for some things, the difference is huge! There are two things that are significantly cheaper at Lidl:

  1. The vegetables. You can see a significant difference in the price of vegetables. And the quality is the same. I never had problem with the quality.
  2. The meat. The main difference is that Lidl offers a lot of foreign meat. We buy a lot of Italian chicken for instance. We can buy chicken for about 15 CHF a kilo in Lidl, while it’s at 23 CHF in Migros.

Many people do not like that we buy foreign meat. If the price is similar (a few CHF difference per KG), I buy Swiss meat. For instance, I buy a lot of Swiss pork. Otherwise, I buy foreign meat. For instance, I haven’t’ bought Swiss chicken in a long time. It’s simply too expensive. And I have never seen the difference.

2. One shop does not rule them all!

Contrary to the one ring! At least in Switzerland, there is no one single shop with the best price for everything. You’ll need to find a good balance between the best price and the time you want to allocate to groceries. Personally, I cannot imagine doing to 5 jobs each week for groceries. But there are some things that are worth buying in another shop than Lidl.

There are still quite a few things we buy at Migros. It’s mainly their MBudget line that is great price. For instance, we buy orange juice and laundry detergent in Migros in their MBudget versions.

We’ve also started to buy things in Aligro. The advantage is that we can buy in bulk. We buy some cheap pork and chicken in 1 kilogram pack. It’s about 20% cheaper than Lidl. We also buy some Chinese products such as Soy sauce there.

Finally, there are some things we simply don’t find in grocery stores. This is mainly Chinese products. For instance, we are using quite a few Chinese jam and several kinds of noodles. For this, we go to a Chinese shop in Fribourg. They have a very large choice and the price stays reasonable. We also buy our rice here in pack of 5 kilograms.

3. Buy in bulk

We don’t buy everything in bulk, but for many things, it’s a great way to keep the price low. And it’s also the advantage that you don’t need to go shopping too often. Of course, there is the disadvantage that you have to store more things in your home. It takes quite some room.

We buy things like toilet paper, soy sauce and oil in bulk. If we can keep them for long and we have room to store it. And some things are not cheaper on bulk. Again, you need to compare the price. One thing is very important when comparing two products: The price per kilo (or ounce). A lot of people are only comparing the price but not taking into account the weight. 1 kilogram of pork at 15 CHF is much better than 400 grams at 7 CHF. It may seem simple, but it’s very important.

4. Use your freezer

Something that is very important is to make good use of the freezer. There are many things you can buy and freeze. You should use it to be able to take advantage of more sales. If you see that juicy pork at 40% sale, buy a bunch of it and freeze it.

Another good way to take advantage of your freezer is to cook a lot 🙂 For instance, we have many dumplings and bao zi (Chinese steamed bun) in our freezer. You can cook a lot of them, freeze them and they are ready for your liking 🙂

Home made Pork Dumplings
Home made Pork Dumplings

A lot of people believe that the freezer is only for when you buy frozen food. Actually, a lot of frozen food is very unhealthy and sometimes not even very cheap. I think freezer makes more sense to keep a food budget low!

5. Grow your own vegetables

Our garden starting to look good
Our garden starting to look good

We just started to grow our own vegetable garden. I don’t know if we will really make a profit out of it. But if you are good with the garden, and have a large land, you can grow vegetables for very cheap! And very good vegetables at that.

For us, we just started this year. And we have a small garden yet. But it still feels great to eat home-grown vegetables 🙂 And I believe that if you do it right, you can save some money. Although not a lot. You should plant things where the seedlings are cheap and the grown vegetable is expensive. Or a plant that will grow many vegetables like eggplant or zucchini.

Low food budget result

By following these 5 things, we are keeping our food budget quite low. To be honest, our garden is not yet making our budget smaller. But we still hope that it will be the case. But I’ve really seen the difference once I started shopping at Lidl instead of Migros. And another difference once I started to buy some things in Bulk at Aligro.

If you follow these simple things to do, you should be able to keep your food budget low as well!

Do you have any more tips for keeping food budget lower ? How much is your monthly food budget ?

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