It was pay week, so we went grocery shopping, in 5 different stores. ARRRGH! We wanted to see if we could shop without using the duopoly which controls so much of the Australian grocery market (Coles and Woolworths get 40cents in every retail dollar!) And both Coles and Woolies have cut “name” brands in recent years, and are moving towards less choice and more “home” brands. Grrr.
So after carefully checking the catalogues (so much junk mail this week!) off we went.
We started out at Aldi – and were NOT impressed, at all. They just don’t stock the things we need, the aisles are incredibly narrow, the prices aren’t much different to the big two and the customer service is TERRIBLE. That’s the second time we’ve been served by the same checkout chick and she was so rude we’ve vowed not to go back to that branch. And their fruit and veg were disgusting. Aldi is ok for their super specials on non-grocery things – we got a work platform thingummy there a few weeks ago (so we can wash and paint the ceilings), and we’re going back this Thursday for some trestle legs to replace the ones that were ruined in the flood. But as a main grocery store it doesn’t work for us.
So then we tried the IGA – and apart from one super special (the Evil Black Drink, and no, I don’t want to hear any lectures!) everything was much more expensive.
So – on to our mainstay grocery store, Woolworths. Where we got *most* of the list, and where we know a lot of the checkout staff, since we shop there so often (mostly because it’s in the same centre as our post office box.) Woolies stock most of the pet food we need (with the exception of Constance’s special “Sensitive skin and Stomach” bikkies. Which I gladly buy her because she is such a valuable part of our household).
But there are things Woolies don’t stock, so the next day I went to Coles in town. And the greengrocers, who also stock some grocery lines. Fruit and veges have definitely gone up in price, but they’re still cheaper than buying rubbish pre-prepared, processed food.
There are local farmers markets twice a month (although they are somewhat weather dependent) but it’s not really the fruit and veges that are a problem to buy – we buy what’s in season and cheap anyway. It’s the other groceries that drive me crazy! We wait for things to come on special – there are definitely cycles on things like cooking oil, coffee, and shampoo.
We don’t buy “luxury” items (unless, say, the liverwurst is near its sell by date and has been marked down significantly – and I mean less than a quarter of the original price) and since I’m not eating sugar we don’t buy things like sweet biscuits or chocolate or icecream or flavoured yoghurt. We buy the cheapest toilet paper we can. We try not to use paper towels when we can use washable cloth. In short, we do pretty much everything we can to live as cheaply as possible.
And yet we still end up spending at least 60% of our income on groceries. That’s just how much it costs. There’s no pensioner discounts on potatoes! We’re just incredibly fortunate that we don’t have a mortgage or have to pay rent – we get money taken out of our account every fortnight to cover the council rates, so we mostly have that covered. But still – sixty percent (and sometimes more) just on groceries.
I don’t know how anyone can afford to smoke, drink or gamble on the pension!! My one vice – the Evil Black Drink – costs me at the very MOST $20 per fortnight, and I’m hoping to stop drinking it soon. We get a huge discount on our prescriptions thanks to the governments Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, but because of our various illnesses we still spend around $80 a month on prescription medicine.