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If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries, you’re not alone! With grocery shopping one of the biggest four expenses any household has, it’s easy to find yourself with a bigger than expensive total when you reach the supermarket checkout.
It’s just so easy to spend more than you planned:
You go to do your weekly shop. You walk in and immediately see a stand of freshly baked muffins and can’t resist so pop them in your trolley. Feeling a little bad about the muffins you pick up more fruit and veg than you normally would. The cereal you usually buy is out of stock so you have to choose a more expensive one, and while you’re looking your kids manage to bully you into also buying coco-pops AND cheerios.
At this point you’re getting stressed and the smell from the in-store bakery is making you hungry so you pick up a bunch of stuff that’s not on your list but you fancy it now. More whinging from the kids mean you speed through the rest of your shopping only to get home and realise you forgot to buy milk.
Cue an extra later trip to a convenience store where you inevitably end up buying more than you went in for.
Either way, for a lot of reasons, it’s not uncommon to have a higher grocery spend than your budget would like.
Luckily there are lots of ways to save money on food, without having to live off dried packet noodles and become a crazy coupon lady. Read on to see how you can slash your grocery spend and recognise and avoid those sneaky supermarket tricks that are designed to make you spend more.
Here’s how to cut grocery bills, in 13 simple steps:
1. Meal plan
Probably the simplest and most effective way to save money on groceries is to plan your meals in advance. It streamlines your shopping, reduces food waste and lowers you grocery spend.
2. Stick to your list
Once you’ve made your meal plan, you can write your shopping list based on what you need for your planned meals. Then all you have to do when you go shopping is stick to your list and avoid impulse purchases!
Fruit and veg that is in season is usually better value (and more eco-friendly because it needs less shipping), so if you can, try and buy ingredients that are in season.
4. Switch brands
I talk about brand switching a lot, because it really can make a big difference! Choosing to buy generic or lower cost brands can really help save money on groceries. Oftentimes you’ll find that you really don’t even notice a difference in taste or quality!
5. Bulk buy or check unit price
Always check the price per unit to make sure you’re buying the most cost effective size for your money. Usually that will be the bigger size, as bulk buying tends to be cheaper, but always check the pricing labels to make sure.
6. Never shop on an empty stomach
Shop savvy – don’t go on an empty stomach as studies have shown that you’re much more likely to spend more on things you wouldn’t have becuase of the hunger factor. Choose a time to shop when you’re not hungry.
7. Check the yellow stickers/reduced food
Most supermarkets tend to reduce short date items towards the end of the day. When you’re shopping you can check the reduced section to see if there’s anything you’d use. Most things can be frozen, so you can pick up some super cheaper bargains and pop them in the freezer for later.
9. Go meatless
Meat is one of the most expensive items we put into our supermarket trolleys. Choosing to go without meat for some of your meals can make a huge dent in your grocery bill.
9. Watch out for sneaky grocery store tricks
Grocery stores are businesses and therefore designed to make as money money as they can. Simple ways they get you to spend more are:
- Putting the higher priced items at eye level – easily accessible and what people see first. Look up and down for better value buys.
- End of aisle ‘bargain’ shelves – to catch your attention as you walk by. Remember, it’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway or need and will use it.
- In-store bakeries: the smell of freshly baked goods make you more likely to feel hungry and therefore buy more food.
- Items by the checkouts: put there to tempt you to buy last minute items you really didn’t need.
- Bigger trolleys: the bigger you trolley the emptier it looks, so makes you think you’re buying less.
Be aware of these tricks and you’re less likely to fall victim to them.
10. Try online shopping or click and collect
If you struggle with impulse buys and sticking to your list (hello bag of chocolate buttons I couldn’t walk past) online shopping or click and collect might be a good option!
If you tend to buy the same things for most shopping trips, online ordering is good because it can save your list for you and you can just make quick adjustments based on what you need and any special offers you see.
11. Get some cashback
Use cashback sites to get a little money back on your shopping.
Apps and sites you can use are:
Shopmium– gives cashback on certain items, you can search by supermarket and see if there’s anything you’re buying. Use code z6e8y for a free jar of Nutella. Checkout Smart and ClickSnap work in the same way.
Shoppix (enter code ARDIW4SK for 200 free points) and Receipt Hog – scan your receipt after shopping to gain points you can exchange for cash.
12. Try batch cooking
Cooking larger amounts, then batching them down into smaller portions to freeze and use another day is another good way to save money on groceries. Since the bigger packets of things (especially things such as mince or chicken) tend to work out cheaper per kg than smaller portions, buying the bigger amount and batch cooking makes sense.
Plus you can then eat another day without having to cook, so it’s a win-win!
Some foods that work well for batch cooking are:
- Bolognese sauce
- Cottage pie
13. Make Your Food Last Longer
How many times have you had to throw away food before you’ve managed to use it up?
Meal planning will definitely help this happen less, but here are a couple of other easy ways to help:
Make sure to store food in the best place; for example bread stored in a cool, dry container lasts longer and bananas should be kept away from other fruits as the gases they produce will cause the rest of the fruit to ripen quicker. Keep them out of the fridge too – they’re best stored at room temperature.
Check dates – When you’re shopping, check to make sure the food will last until they day you’re planning on cooking or eating it. When you’re at home, for everyday things you keep in the fridge and cupboards, try to regularly re-arrange so that the items with the shortest date are at the front and therefore will get used first.
Don’t throw food unnecessarily: Dates marked use-by need to be used by the date shown but if it’s best before, use your judgement. Things are often still good past their best before date.
All of these tips together can really make a massive difference to how much money you can save, which can in turn give your budget a nice boost. Do you have any other tips and tricks to save money on groceries? Share them in the comments below!
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