We all head to the supermarket with the best intentions of saving.
But after a few impulse buys, some extra snacks and a lovely cut of meat, you suddenly find your grocery bill has spiralled out of control.
Sydney couple Michael and Sabrina Maiorano and their two children spend on average A$650 ($707) a week on groceries, equating to A$37,000 ($40,000) a year at the checkout.
Their food bill equated to more than double the Australian national yearly average of A$13,900 per household.
But now the family who once made all the wrong supermarket mistakes has cut an incredible A$17,000 ($18,000) a year off their grocery bill by making small and simple easy swaps.
The Maioranos, with the help of celebrity chef Ben O'Donoghue from the showEat Well For Less, have released their five tips that'll save families around New Zealand and Australia thousands of dollars.
1. MAKE YOUR OWN CRUMBED CHICKEN
The family was buying 2 x 400g of pre-crumbed chicken tenders each week, which costs around A$20. Crunching the numbers, they were paying someone A$8.60 just to crumb the chicken. But by buying the same amount of plain breast chicken for A$11.20 and making their own crumb from scratch using bread, rosemary and other herbs, it saves A$670 a year.
2. MAKE YOUR OWN SNACK PACKS
The Maioranos were buying pre-packaged cheese and biscuits snacks for their daughters each week. But by buying sliced cheese and a packet of biscuits, and creating their own snack packs, they can save A$290 a year.
3. MAKE YOUR OWN YOGHURT TREATS
The family was buying around A$1248 worth of Chobani flip yoghurts each year for their two daughters as an after-school snack.
Not only do they contain around four teaspoons of sugar per serve, they are costing around A$3 per item.
But by buying a larger tub, and a few additives like frozen blueberries and muesli — the family could save themselves A$780 each year — and cut the sugar intake by half.
4. SWAP BIG BRANDS FOR GENERICS
The Maioranos were big mince eaters, and while they admit they will not be changing their brand of choice by buying a generic brand, such as the organic label from Aldi compared to the same version from Woolworths, they could save around A$365 a year.
Australians eat over 180 million kilos of cereal each year, with one of our favourite varieties being Weet-Bix.
But by swapping to a generic brand the average family could save A60 cents per packet.
The savings can even apply to beer. With some craft varieties, like Mountain Goat, costing around A$20 for a sixpack, swapping to a cheaper alternative — such as Storm Brewing Co. from Aldi for A$8.99 — it could save an average consumer A$1500 a year.
Another saving comes from the deli section at your local supermarket. By simply ordering your bacon from the butcher section instead of buying pre-packaged, you're looking at an average saving of A$60 a year.
5. GO VEGETARIAN TWO NIGHTS A WEEK
On average, for a family consuming meat or poultry ever night a week, opting for vegetarian just one day could save around A$650 a year. Not only can it be good for your hip pocket, but going vegetarian just once or twice a week and leaving steak off the barbecue can do wonders for your health, a leading dietitian says.
Nicole Dynan, an accredited dietitian and spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia, told the ABC that plant-based diets were some of the healthiest in the world.
"People who eat more plant-based food, like vegetables and fruit, tend to have lower BMIs [body mass index], and reduced risk of developing things like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol," Dynan said.
"The thing about vegetables and fruit and plant matter is they give you a lot of micronutrients, or the small nutrients, in your diet — things like vitamins and minerals, and fibre, which is really beneficial for your gut bacteria and helps your body function better."
If you're unlikely to cut out meat, try opting for a cheaper cut of meat. They might need a longer cooking time but they are often even tastier than expensive joints, especially if marinated or seasoned.
Swapping 1kg of scotch fillet grass-fed steak at A$40 per kilo for a secondary cut of the same amount (like flat iron/oyster blade steak) will save a family A$8.24 a week — adding up to A$856 a year.
O'Donoghue said the simple tricks they'd shared with the Maioranos had even made an impact on his own family, by saving himself A$80 a week (or $4000 a year) by making a few simple food swaps. He said one of the keys was to shop at more than one supermarket.
"Our grocery spend will be over A$300 and it's down to A$220 to A$250 now," he said. "What stands out is unnecessary purchases that we make."