GROWING bodies, increasing costs and stagnant incomes. The challenges for feeding a household of six are ongoing, yet Melissa Williams manages to limit her grocery bill to under $200 each week.
Ms Williams, a single mother who regularly feeds five hungry kids, says she isn't afraid of generic brands, and stocks up on domestic items such as laundry powder when they are on special.
A chef by trade, the wise spender is an advocate of cooking meals from scratch for next to nothing.
"My kids are big milk drinkers so I buy long life milk as it doesn't go off," she said.
"Pasta is always a winner. Spaghetti bolognaise is a good cheap meal to cook for a number of people, and frozen vegies are great."
Another cost efficient buyer is Tara Knowles, who is able to limit her weekly spending for one adult and two children to just $80.
"Don't shop at one store. Buy specials from each of the majors in Gladdy," she said.
"Every third night cook a double batch and place in the freezer as lazy meal 'takeaway'."
Ms Knowles has perfected the art of turning minimal amounts of money into a pantry full to the brim with options.
"Buy your fruit and vegetables from the farmers market (and) don't throw out blemished fruit and veg. Turn them into fruit slice or muffins," she said.
"Look for items that you need in the reduced-to-clear. I frequently buy brand name fresh milk for less than 50 cents a litre."
Save money by cutting out the waste
THE average Australian household is forking out $250 on their grocery bill every single week.
While a huge boost for local retail outlets, manufacturing industries and primary producers, on average each Australian throws out 414kg of food per year.
The inherent need for wiser consumption of perishable food is echoed by Gladstone nutritionist Jacqui Smith, who says sticking to a shopping list with determination is a crucial element to not blowing your budget.
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," she said. "Second tip would be to shop around the perimeter - that is where all the fresh food is.
"Don't get caught in the middle as this is all the packaged food and filled with the not-so-good-for-you food, plus all the advertising trying to suck you in with buy two, get one free."
Ms Smith, who works for CQ Medicare Local, said the five fundamental food groups were stocked on the perimeter of the store.
She advised people to buy only what their diet required.
"I definitely think it is possible to eat cheaply and healthily. Legumes, lentils and chickpeas are full of protein and fibre while low in calories, fat and salt."
Local health and nutrition coach Slyvia Smith said planting vegetables was a cost cutter.
"It doesn't matter if you are renting or planning to move in the future," she said.
"You can plant fruit trees in pots and whole herb and vegie gardens in styrofoam boxes, and the return is worth so much more."
She said cutting back spending required commitment.