Hi, I’m Sam and I’m a health writer and yoga teacher who lives in one of the most expensive cities in the world, in one of the nicest areas in Sydney.
Translation: I’m poor AF, living pay-check to pay-check, in two low paid industries, in a houseshare of four people.
Without knowing the ins and outs of my life, as a woman in the wellness world who writes about superfood trends, you’d be fooled into thinking I’m all about goji berries, organic vegetables, and vegan cheese, but this my friends is where you’d be mistaken.
Revert back to paragraph two… As a woman choosing to prioritize passion over paychecks, home life over regular holidays, coffee over clothes, and heart overhead, this has meant low budget living over luxury. Or to sum it up more simply, little food money for big life gains.
I currently am budgeting at $50 a fortnight on groceries, or $25 a week, or as my sister worked out—$3.50 a day (the equivalent of a third world country…as she so aptly put it). Note: this is not including coffee (this is a daily luxury I will never give up. My daily morning time cozied up at my local cafe is a ritual I would never trade for the world).
Before you cry—that’s not possible!’ ‘no way,’ ‘as if’ or some other line of disbelief, let me tell you, I am a seasoned pro. This is no word of a lie.
As someone who has lived in both Sydney and London and experienced the high life— traveling, living in upmarket areas, paying for a regular yoga membership, and eating at some of the trendiest cafes and restaurants—I have managed to fine-tune the art of frugal living to a T. Seriously, in London I lived off £21 according to an Instagram flashback circa November 2016 (see below).
Ask any of my friends, family, or colleagues and they will vouch for the fact, I am not only good at it, but I also love to share my budget savvy healthy eating ways!
While as a whole I can be a little too ‘go with the flow,’ when it comes to big picture budgeting, when it comes to my grocery shop, without tooting my own horn, I know where it’s at! I can tell you where to get the best deal for pretty much everything!
By this point, I am sure you’re wondering what the secret is? Well, there are two major factors that play into this—motivation and street smarts.
Right now, I am highly motivated to immerse myself in a yoga retreat and teacher training in Santorini that I only booked three months ago (and just so happens to be incredibly expensive). Hence tightening the reins right now. Experiences and travel ALWAYS trump cash splashing for the sake of it, when it comes to what matters to me most.
And then of course, when it comes to being street smart, I know a bargain when I see one. I know where to find them (store, location in-store, brand) and I will take the time to hunt them out.
Point in case—I will NEVER pay $4 for an avocado when I know for a fact they go on special sometimes for $2.50.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m that good.
Now at this point, I am willing to divulge my secrets with you, as I believe healthy food should be accessible and affordable for everyone, however before we go on, promise me something? You do not choose to see this as ‘stingy’ and judge me or yourself (for secretly being interested), instead what I want you to see this as is ‘savvy’ and prioritization.
It’s not that I couldn’t spend more, remember I’d just rather skip out on Aus winter to up-skill my yoga teacher qualifications in an exotic European Summer location. So when it comes to your life, I really encourage you to think about what your current priorities are and then rather than judge yourself for cutting costs, choose to see it as valuing said ‘house,’ ‘holiday,’ ‘gym membership/health,’ etc over smashed avocado on toast from an overpriced hipster cafe. Feeling me?
Okay, let’s do this! Read on for a detailed look inside my grocery haul, prices, locations, and brands included.
Note: this is based entirely on the fresh produce I need to replenish and a relatively high protein diet (as I’m sure I could live even cheaper if I was veggo and eating beans over the meat, but my body just prefers and responds better to a meat-based protein diet)! I still have a pantry of staples such as pasta, sauces, and condiments at home (which for the purposes of this won’t be included in my grocery budget).
Sam’s $50 Fortnightly Grocery Haul
The Grocery List:
Greek Style Lemon and Herb Marinated Chicken 950grams for $10.93 (Woolworths *Special price*)— equates to 3 – 4 serves (for lunch days at the office).
1 x packet of beef mince from Coles or Woolworths $5
1 x packet of two chicken breasts $7.00 (I will not spend more)
1 x packet of pork or lamb mince 3 – 4 serves (for the second week of lunches at the office) $5 ( I choose the one on special).
Fruit and veg:
1 x Aldi frozen berries = $3.69
1 x packet of 300g of spinach leaves from Aldi = $3.99
1 x sweet potato from Aldi = $0.99
1 x pkt of zucchinis from Aldi = $1.34
Dairy or equivalent:
Coles ‘Tasty Shredded Cheddar Cheese’ = $3.50 for 250g
Aldi ‘Inner Goodness Unsweetened Almond Milk’ = $1.79
Chobani Greek Yoghurt tub = $2.25
= $7.29 Image: Sam Bailey Extras Note: I mix it up depending on the season, specials, or ‘treat yo’ self’ moods.
2 x packets of Aldi ‘Imperial grain brown rice’ = $2.78 (I make one of these last x 2 serves).
2 x canned tomatoes ($0.69 per can at Aldi) or pasta sauce = aprox $2.00= $4.78
TOTAL = $50.00
The seasonal: if I’ve managed to save money on something else (such as meat) I may add these babies into the mix just to mix it up.
Aldi peanut butter $2.99 or if I’m going all out, I’m obsessed with Mayver’s Crunchy Peanut Butter (I once got it on special for $2.50 from $5! That’s up there with getting raspberries for $2!).
Aldi basil pesto $3.00
4 x Aldi bananas = $0.99 for roughly 500grams
1 x pkt of ‘Coles Wholemeal & Grain Soft Wraps’ = $2.30
Breakfast: I generally am more of a coffee drinker in the AM admittedly, so I do save money on breakfast, but on office days where I know I will be hungrier from all the brain fuel required, I have a protein smoothie with berries or bananas and almond milk.
Lunch: 6-8 lunches for the fortnight (using the marinated chicken one week + lamb or pork mince or second chicken breast the other week). I will make…
1. Marinated chicken with brown rice, spinach, and greek yogurt and honey dressing 2. Lamb meatballs with brown rice, spinach, and greek yogurt and honey dressing 3. Pork mince san choy bao in wholemeal tortilla wraps with spinach, greek yogurt, and honey dressing or with brown rice or just salad.
Dinner: Using the other two remaining packets of meat, I will make some of these combinations… 1. Spaghetti bolognese with zucchini pasta
2.Baked chicken breast with sweet potato chips, spinach leaves, and balsamic vinegar
3.San Chau bao with pork mince using spinach leaves as the base and spices from home, soy sauce.
4.Basil pesto zucchini pasta (or normal pasta on a super chilly, super hungry night) with cherry tomatoes and cracked black pepper.
5. Margarita pizzas with using baked wholegrain tortillas as the base with canned tomatoes, cheese, spinach leaves, onion, cracked black pepper.
6. Chilli con Carne made with beef mince and spices, canned tomatoes, sweet potato chips, spinach leaves, and greek yogurt.
1. Always hunt down the ‘Odd bunch’ shelf at Woolworths for seasonal fruit and veg marked ridiculously low. I usually get zucchinis at Aldi (3 for $1.34 roughly, but the other day I found them at Woolworths on the odd bunch shelf reduced to $1.99 for 6!!). 2. On days where you’re in need of a cheap and healthy pick me up at a low cost… Aldi has a delicious natural peanut butter for $2.99 and their own home brand kombucha for $2.50! 3. Woolworths does great meat specials midweek. I’ve yet to nail exactly what day and what time during the week, but my housemate got me onto this and now I’m hooked. Go sometime on a Tues -Thurs evening to find seriously discounted meat, then freeze them straight away and use when you need it. 4. Never shop for convenience’s sake, commit to a set time. I stick to a fortnightly grocery shop as it keeps me disciplined and I make sure I do it on a day when I have time to commit to bargain hunting. If you go when you’re hungry and tired after work in a rush you will likely do a ‘one-stop-shop.’ Risk this and it means you’ll kick yourself when you realize you wasted half your budget on an overpriced avocado or chicken breast that you could have got down the road 50 percent cheaper. 5. Meal prep! This is key because if you pre-make and know what you’re eating, you can’t go off and buy more ingredients, you use what you’ve got and milk it right until the end. The bonuses of doing this mean – you stick to your budget, you are organized and have food ready to go on busy days AND you are as a result healthier too as you can’t deviate from your budget and go on snack binges or 3 pm muffin runs 😉