Quite a few of my readers have been searching for a Basic Grocery List on a Budget in South Africa over the past few months. I have been meaning to write a post about this but have been delaying somewhat because I seem to be writing far too many posts about food these days! While saving on your grocery budget isn’t the only way to tighten up on your finances each month, it definitely is one of those aspects that needs to be kept in check.
This Basic Grocery List on a Budget is just that – a very basic list of items that will cost you the least. Each one of our individualised budgets, and tastes, can add to this list to improve or make it as interesting as you wish.
Beans (in brine or tomato sauce)
Fish (Pilchards, Tuna or Sardines)
These are the 4 vegetables that I always have at hand. They can be cooked in so many different ways and are also a great addition to many of the meat-based meals that I cook so often.
Additionally, these veggies are also very affordable, especially when purchased fresh in season:
Avoid buying packets of frozen vegetables or ready washed/peeled/chopped packets of vegetables and fruit. Those are the most expensive. Buy your fruits and veggies fresh, and whole, preferably at a greengrocer’s, and wash/peel/chop everything yourself.
Herbs such as parsley, basil and mint you can grow on your own in pots so it shouldn’t cost you anything other than the initial purchase of a seedling or packets of seeds. Chillies are very easy to sprout and grow from the seeds of a chilli pepper you’ve just sliced, and had in your meal, so there is hardly a need to buy seedlings or seeds for those, ever.
Bananas are the cheapest ‘staple’ fruit and that’s pretty much what we have in our household all year round. All other fruits, as you know, are very much seasonal and so are their prices.
Some of the ‘cheaper’ seasonal fruits you can buy includes apples, pears, oranges, naartjies, grapefruit, pineapples in autumn/winter and grapes, mangoes, papayas, watermelons, plums and strawberries in spring/summer. These fruits will be at their cheapest when in season, or towards the end of the season.
There are, of course, those other types of fruit which usually cost quite a bit, even when in season, and this includes figs, sweet melons, peaches, apricots, guava, kiwi, lychee, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, coconut and pomegranate. As you may have guessed, those types of fruits we rarely buy and when we do, it’s most probably because they’re on a really good special!
Mixed Chicken portions
I’ve listed the meats from cheapest to more expensive. If you want to keep your meat budget as low as possible, avoid buying beef (steaks, fillets, sausages) and more exotic seafood (prawns, lobster, salmon, etc.). Plus, reducing the amount of beef you consume can drastically reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, experts say giving up beef will reduce our carbon footprint more than cars. There are also lots of environmental reason to go vegan.
Cold meats can be pricey overall but I’ve found that cooked ham at times sells for as low as R6.99 or R7.99 per 100 gr. which makes it a bit more affordable then. I know that varieties of Polony cold meats are the cheapest but not everyone is a fan.
Salt and Pepper
Long life milk
The good thing about buying long life milk as opposed to milk in bottles or even sachets is that they tend to be the cheapest per litre when they are on special, and they so often are. Long life milk lasts longer than fresh milk, so that’s the next best thing for me, because I don’t have to buy milk every 2-3 days, more so as we mostly use it for just our teas and coffees. Powdered milk can be a more affordable option at times, especially if you only use it in your cup of tea and coffee but then again, not everyone is a fan.
Cooking & Baking
Is there anything else that you feel should be added to this basic grocery list? Please let me know in the comments below. I would love to make this list as comprehensive as possible.
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