Managing a family on a budget can be tricky, however, nutritionist Susie Burrell recently posted a shot of her trolley of weekly groceries on Instagram, which came in at an unbelievable $120. Susie chats to Babyology podcast Feed Play Love on how she manages to shop so well for a family of four – which includes hungry three-year-old twin boys.
Life is expensive
Before having kids, Susie wouldn’t have thought twice about spending $300 at the supermarket, but life with a family is a lot more expensive. “I have become quite savvy at saving money shopping, and I like it; it’s a real challenge,” she says. “I think that a lot of people are under budgetary pressure, and if we can save serious money shopping, why wouldn’t you?’’
Listen to Susie Burrell on Feed Play Love:
For Susie, it all comes down to planning ahead, so she will do a shop on the weekend to get her family through until about Thursday. This gives her peace of mind and avoids those time-consuming and costly drop-ins to the supermarket. “I like to know exactly what I’m cooking for dinners. I have all the lunch stuff ready to go, and I can start the week on track,” she says.
Susie also cooks at least one or two big meals on a Sunday. “I’ll do some sort of one-pot dish, like a casserole where the protein can be used over two meals, or for some lunches, and then I also do something like mince or a pie,” she says. “Then I don’t have to worry when I get home at 5.30pm, at least one or two nights, the dinner is done.”
Keeping it simple
The secret to Susie’s shopping success is to keep everything simple. “The mums I see are trying to create these brilliant, complicated nutritious recipes with a million ingredients,” she says. “I don’t cook any recipe that’s got more than five or six ingredients because who’s got time to buy all those things?”
“I’ll work off one or two key proteins whether it’s mince or chicken breast and then use that perhaps as a crumbed chicken or then as a chicken pie,” continues Susie. ” So, I get two meals out of it and really maximise the protein and I load up so many veggies into it – I’ve always got lots of frozen veggies, and things like carrots, mushrooms and zucchini which you can add literally to anything.”
By the time Thursday rolls around, Susie’s meals are as equally simple: “It’s something like some cutlets, lean sausages, we might get a barbecue chicken, or it might be some frozen fish pieces and veggies.”
What about snacks?
Susie avoids buying processed snacks by baking one thing each week like cookies or banana bread. “Then I know I’ve got the snacks for a week,” she says. “And I don’t have to buy packet snacks which are really expensive.”
So, where does Susie shop?
Susie likes to get fruit and veggies from markets as it does work out to be cheaper. “For things like apples, oranges and pears that you go through so many of,” says Susie. “And things like broccoli and zucchini are a lot cheaper because in supermarkets, they’ve got a heavy mark-up, and that will add $5 to the trolley very quickly.”
When it comes to supermarkets, Susie doesn’t stick to just one. She was never a fan of Aldi before kids but now she will always start there for her staples. Particularly as she finds some products nutritionally the same, just repackaged. “If I know that cheese is exactly the same, which it is, I want the cheaper variety, so I go to Aldi every week and I always buy less than $100,” she says. “Then I’ll usually go to Woolies and I’ll get a few of the proteins. I do tend to prefer mainstream proteins because they tend to be leaner.”
Top nutritional tips
Not all of us are nutritionists, so how can we be sure we’re buying healthy products without breaking the budget? “All you really need to look at is the length of the ingredient list,” Susie advises. “If I look and there’s a lot of stuff I don’t recognise, I don’t buy it.”
The other tip is to avoid packaged and processed foods and sauces, which is where unnecessary spending can occur. “The most complicated sauce I would buy each week is perhaps a passata,” says Susie. “There are no biscuits and stuff like that, which again you can blow quite a lot of money on, because I stick to the snacks of yoghurts, cheese and crackers. I don’t buy the processed bars because they don’t really have much nutrition, they’re all processed carbohydrate which most of us don’t need.”
The final word
While Susie admits she’s no purist (and enjoys chocolate), she is very passionate about helping busy people to shop and eat well.
“It’s really trying to get some practical tips and strategies for busy people to make nutrition easy,” she says. “I think the perception is it’s complicated and you have to spend ages, but my average dinner is seriously five or ten minutes, salmon in the frypan with some veggies and soy sauce and that’s it – very simple.”