Home Savings Guru


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Meet Sharon Miller. She's a stay at home mum of five, and she knows how to get the best out of a bargain. Sharon and her husband Andrew live in the Adelaide Hills, along with their tribe of kids, who are all at school or kindy.

"I make our money stretch to where it needs to go, I source the best bargains, and I find an option that works," she says. "We've got school fees for the kids, we've got electricity, we've got phone bills, and internet, and clothing costs."

You'd think with all those hungry mouths to feed, her household bills would break the bank.
But for Sharon, it's important not to sacrifice a good lifestyle, just to save a dollar.

"It's all very well being a stop at home mum and having one income, but if you don't do anything or go anywhere or your kids don't get exposed to stuff, then that's not much fun for anybody."

Sharon is one of legions around the country using a website called Simple Savings to help her tame those grocery price gremlins.

Naomi Bruvels from Simple Savings says it's all about getting back to basics. The website works by providing newsletters, forums and tips on saving money on everything from travel, cars and groceries to entertainment.

"Our philosophy is very simple," says Naomi. "Shop smarter and you'll get a great deal every time. You'll actually find you will save money and have more time."

While that might sound too good to be true, around 90-thousand people have been flocking to the site from around the country and overseas.

"It tells us that they're actually getting smarter because they have to get smarter, with interest rate rises, petrol prices going up," says Naomi. "They're feeling the pinch."

Sharon claims by using tips she's learned from other simple savers, she's managed to whittle her fortnightly food bill to less than what many families would spend in a week.

So we decided to set this super-mum a supermarket challenge: that is, to prepare breakfast, lunch and tea for all seven members of the household over two weeks. But she can't spend more than $200.

Sharon says she's up to the challenge.

"Last night I sat at home and I worked out my menu plan, I did a little bit of pre-shopping from my pantry, I've got my list of ingredients and I'm ready to go," she says.

We'll see how she fared a minute.
In the meantime, Sharon and the Simple Savings crew have come up with some hints to minimise torture at the till.

Number 1: make a list.

Number 2: don't be taken in by pretty packaging.

Number 3: work out how much each item will cost you per one hundred grams. It's called unit pricing and it's easier to compare brands and sizes that way.

Number 4: buy meat in bulk whenever you can and�

Number 5: buy your fruit and veg from a market when you can.

"All of our hints and tips are coming from real Australians that have been trying and using these methods, and they're so simple but they really work," says Naomi Bruvels.

At the half-way point Sharon's still feeling confident, although her trolley doesn't appear to have too many items.

Sharon's supermarket strategy includes doing all her own cooking and by-passing those pre-prepared meals, shaving a further 10 per cent off her bill in GST.

"No, that's because everything's fresh and basic," she says. "There's no packaging to get rid of."

At the checkout, the moment of truth has arrived.

Sharon says she's already spent $35 on her fortnightly meat budget, and estimates the amount of food she'll use up from her pantry would cost another $50.

But were there any blow-outs or anything unexpected along the way?

"There were a couple of things that I've added to my trolley that I forgot to put on my list," she says. "But I'm sure they'll be fine."

And just to double-check that she hadn't skimped on anything or missed anything out just because we were watching�

"No," says Sharon. "I followed my list that I made from my menu plan and I've stuck to it."

Even with her meat and pantry costs, she's still well under budget at $184.75.

"So I've still got $15 change if I need to buy more milk if I need to at the end of the week or top up those green veg for the kids."


Monday pumpkin & pea risotto

Tuesday roast pork with gravy, potatoes, pumpkin, onion and greens

Wednesday pork stir fry (leftovers) with stir fry vegetables

Thursday tuna Mornay and greens

Friday Indian chicken with rice, peas & sultanas

Saturday potato soup & homemade pizza

Sunday bbq (marinated steak and sausages) with hot veggie bake

Monday veggie lasagna

Tuesday steak and veg (from Sunday bbq) and potato bake

Wednesday mince with rice

Thursday pasta bake

Friday chicken drumsticks and veggies

Saturday mince pies and wedges (any leftover veggies minced up
and added to meat

Sunday meat

Shopping from my pantry

For fortnight:

Yoghurt $ 3.36
Sultanas $ 2.10
Cheese $ 6.00
Cake $12.00
Muffins $ 3.00
Potatoes 6.3 kg $ 7.50
Rice 2.4 kg $ 2.76
2x cans corn $ 1.80
Homemade pizzas $ 6.20
Lasagne sheets $ 2.00
Can beans $ 0.90

Pasta $ 2.40
Pasta sauce $ 1.99
Total $52.01

My method of shopping assumes a working pantry stocked with basics, which I replace when on special.

We eat the same breakfast most days such as cereal and milk or yoghurt.

Lunch is sandwich (meat, cheese and salad), cake and fruit. Occasionally we have leftovers.

Evening meal is usually meat and veggies. I try to do 2 legume/ veggie meals each week.

My recipes: as the amounts in my recipes are nearly all "as desired" the following are really rough directions, change as your pantry dictates.

Pumpkin & pea risotto

Pumpkin peeled and cubed
Frozen peas (stand in some warm water while doing the rest)
Rice (I use 2 cups for 7 people)
Dried herbs to taste
Curry powder or paste to taste
Salt and pepper
1 litre of chicken stock (cube will do)

Heat oi