Feeding a family of four can be expensive, but 44-year-old homemaker Nadia O’Reilly manages it on a budget by paying attention to detail.
The mother of two firmly believes in ensuring that no food item goes to waste.
A resident of Dubai for 12 years, she calls herself a sensible spender, with a keen eye on the grocery list that ensures she feeds her family well and is yet able to save a decent amount of money every week. “At the end of the day, we are in Dubai to have a better quality of life, but the idea is to be able to save as well.”
Shopping list is key
Nadia believes in a shopping list. “For my weekly groceries, I always carry a shopping list so we don't stray and buy unnecessary items. It’s quite possible to go into the supermarket for a couple of things and then walk out with more than planned, so a grocery checklist always helps.”
The O'Reillys shop around in multiple supermarkets. Nadia sticks to a budget of Dh750 per week for her weekly grocery shopping. “It is not possible in Dubai to get everything you need in one place so we have got used to shopping around,” she says.
They use Kibsons largely not just for ease of home delivery, “but because we find that the quality of the items it offers is great. They have also expanded their range of fruit and vegetables now and sell many more items, such as meat and dairy, so it helps,” says Nadia.
She spends around Dh400 at Kibsons buying her fruit and vegetables and chicken and milk. “We then top off the extra shopping, such as meat and fish, by ordering online from Carrefour, and the rest from our local Spinneys. This would be another Dh300 to Dh350 more.”
Prepping food is a great saver
Planning well and prepping food where she makes mostly everything from scratch helps Nadia save money on groceries. “If I didn’t, I would have easily spent Dh500 more each week.
If I didn’t prep food, I would have easily spent Dh500 more each week.
“It’s important to us to have good quality food. But that doesn’t mean I will go to a supermarket and choose the most expensive apples. I stick to my budget and that’s possible because I plan my meals for the week in advance. I don’t buy convenience foods. I prefer cooking from scratch, so everything we eat is freshly made. For example, if I am preparing a dessert that has brownies, I wouldn’t just go and buy the readymade ones. I prefer to make them from scratch. Also, the same with pizza. We make our pizza at home as well as all the toppings. Cooking from scratch saves you from gaining weight as you have a control on the ingredients you are using, as well as it helps to save money.”
How does she prep food?
“We prep food daily for the next day. This means packed lunches for school, office and breakfast as well. We make sure all the fruits and vegetable are cleaned and chopped and we use glass containers to store them in the fridge. So, we save time while making the food. School meals require planning. For example, if we have spaghetti one evening, our daughters will take this with them the next day in a thermos for lunch, so nothing goes to waste,” says Nadia.
Vegetarianism is cheaper on the wallet
Nadia recommends shopping around, prepping meals in advance, cooking from scratch, stocking up on basic staples – such as dried, canned goods, bulk buying items you know you will use, and introducing concepts, such as ‘Meat-free Mondays’ .
“Vegetarian diets are cheaper on the shopping list,” she says.
Go to the wholesale markets
Nadia also recommends the wholesale markets you can visit in Dubai.
“Make use of the market days at Spinneys or visit the wholesale market at Khawaneej or the fish market at Deira. There is also the third weekend discount day at Organics Food and Café, which is really useful,” she says.
“I do this and it helps me save. I could easily buy everything from one main expensive supermarket but also end up spending a fortune, which is not what we want to do.”