Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Stay Full for Next to Nothing in Melbourne: A Guide

OK, maybe not next to nothing, but with a few learned tips, Charlie and I have definitely managed to cut our grocery bill! (I have no numeric proof, but we MUST be saving money.) ((This post could be a sign of my withdrawal from working at All You, a womens' value minded maga-- stop.))

1. Queen Victoria Market: By planning just a little bit in advance, Charlie and I have been able to make a few trips to the Queen Vic Market, not too far from our place, and have gotten cheaper produce and seafood than we would at our nearest food store: IGA. The secret about Queen Vic is that you should go when it's just about to close, maybe 30 minutes before. The butcher stands will be lowering their prices, and the seafood stands will be selling entire trays of fish for $10. We got a whole tray of flake last Friday for $10 and froze it. We used half of it in a green curry, and I'll make another fish dish with tomatoes, spinach and olives, maybe later this week. That's $5 per meal for the fish, divided by two people, so $2.50 per person to eat fish, and that's if there's no leftovers. We had two meals out of the green curry, so $1.25 per serving for the fish. Totally doable.

Important: Don't skip the borek at Vic Market. There's a stall in the deli hall that has lots of varieties for just $3. And the servings are huge. We recommend the spiced lamb and vegetable.

Note: Other markets serve the same purpose. Prahan, South Melbourne and Footscray Markets have cheap produce and meats as well, but we still think Vic is cheaper.
2. Use your new knowledge of closing time bargains at other places.  Last Sunday at around 4pm at the Safeway on Sydney Road (in the Barkly Center,) we scored a huge loaf of ciabatta for just $2. All of the loaves were marked down to $2, sometimes from $4 or $5. The rolls and doughnuts were marked down too. That $2 loaf lasted us about five days. And it was pretty good. There are such nice loaves of bread at IGA but they're like $7. Not happening. 

We also found a deal at our new home-away-from-home, A1 Lebanese Bakery. Not only does this place have bangin' spinach and cheese triangles, meat pizzas and falafel wraps all for $3-$6, they sell yesterday's flat breads for $.60. That's 60 cents for five flat breads, and they're not even stale.  At IGA it's almost $2 for five, and they're probably from a few days ago! Unreal, k?
3. If you can't get to Queen Vic, still don't, by any means, buy your produce at the food store. Go to a veg shop instead. Our local veg shop and Lebanese grocer, O'Mara, stocks basically every fruit or vegetable I could need, including lemongrass and various fresh herbs. They display lots of produce outside on the street, and that stuff is on sale. Inside is pretty cheap as well -- definitely cheaper than IGA. Remember: Outside = on sale = probably close to rotting, eat it soon. Maybe you didn't want banana peppers or cauliflower, but you'll be surprised how much you want it once it's on sale. 
4. We have managed to find a deal or two at IGA. We've found that meat is pretty reasonable at the supermarket so haven't really ventured away from that yet. We bought burgers the other day at IGA: three burgers for $4. They were good sized and looked fresh. We cooked them up and learned they're 75% beef and 25% lamb. They really sneak that in there on ya, but they're basically the best burgers ever. Also, in the meat section, theres a little nook where they throw all of the ends of meats from the deli counter, including bacon. We recently got 6 pieces of decent bacon for $.70.

5. If you want to eat out, there are options. Mostly everything is expensive in Melbourne. Lots of places have certain nights where a meal is cheap, like $12 steak night at the Great Northern Hotel in Carlton. If it's cheap lunch you need and you're in the CBD, go to Kim Sing in the Port Phillip Arcade off Flinders St. Basically every dish is $6 unless you go super fancy. The overwhelming favorite is the chicken steak with steamed rice, although I've enjoyed a beef and rice dish and a noodle dish as well. All $6. 

6. Drink responsibly. A beer at the bar is $10. Unless you play your cards right! Go on to find the best deals around town for any night of the week. We've found happy hours where you can get a pint for $5 instead of $10 from 5-9. That means drinking earlier than normal, but not spending $100. To stock up on alcohol to drink at home, go to Dan Murphy's. This place is like a warehouse of liquor, wine and beer, and most likely has the best deals you'll find. Beer is so expensive here, so stock up on Clean Skin wine instead. Certain vineyards that don't want to provide too much stock under their own labels to avoid oversupply and keep high prices, so the extra wine gets sold with only a Clean Skins label for between $3 and $10 per bottle. You can't tell exactly what it is, but who cares? You can get a carton of six bottles of my favorite, Soft White, for about $23. 

So, there. I do pay attention to how much I spend, and I am value minded! Not only does it feel great, but it's necessary. I'm poor. Ha!


S Carow said...

love it!!! thinking of you guys and wishing you well x

Anonymous said...

Have you checked out Preston market? Good prices to be found there also - especially at closing time.

Elspeth said...

I've heard great things about the Preston market, but without a car, it's hard to get there from Brunswick :(

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