Are you wondering how to save money at the grocery store? One of our largest household expenses each week is food. While cutting down on what we spend on takeaway is one way to save, reducing our weekly grocery shopping bill will make a huge difference to the budget. There are some really easy ways to reduce how much you are spending, without compromising too much on what you are eating.
How to save money at the grocery store
While I could tell you to live on rice, beans and porridge every day, I’m instead going to offer realistic tips to save. These tips are designed with practicality in mind. While I have no issue with the rice, beans and porridge diet, when you have a family it’s always the most practical method. I know that most of you reading this are busy parents with families and commitments, and saving time is just as important to you as saving money. It doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other – we’re here to help!
Top tips to save on your grocery bill!
Never pay full price
If you follow only one piece of advice, please let it be this. NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. By full price, I’m referring to the standard price of an item at a regular supermarketlike Coles and Woolworths. The exception to this is if are shopping at a store known for its every day reduced prices like Aldi and CostCo of if you are buying the generic or homebrand items.
With the exception of their own label products, grocery stores will ALWAYS reduce brand name items at some time. Generally, they work on a 4-6 week cycle. If you love a particular brand of coffee, soft drink, chips, pasta sauce etc then WAIT. Wait and watch. Read the catalogues, browse the store, but don’t’ buy until the item is at least 25 – 50% off. Then buy enough to last you until the next sale.
If you see an item you regularly buy that is on a great special then buy more! Buy enough to last you a few months if you have the money in your budget to do so. I’m not a fan of going crazy with stockpiling, but a few months supply of something that you know you will use will save you money. It will also stop you running to the store for that one item and somehow walking out after spending $50 on things you didn’t know you needed. The key to this tip is to only buy things you regularly buy, not just things that are cheap. There’s no point buying 10 cans of something that you’ll never eat, just because it was a bargain. If you do this, make sure you rotate them and use the oldest items first so they don’t get out of date.
Before you go to the grocery store, you should have completed a menu plan. By knowing what you are going to be cooking for the week, you’ll know what you need to buy. Menu planning definitely helps reduce how much you buy as you’re not buying those ‘just in case’ items.
Write a List
This is similar to the menu planning tip above and seems like a really simple idea, but it’s amazing how much you will buy when you wander aimlessly around the supermarket. Menu plan, make a list of what you actually need and then STICK TO IT! The only exception to your list should be any of the stockpile items that you find on special. There are some great FREE shopping list apps available too.
Use Coupons or Vouchers
There’s nothing wrong with using coupons and discount vouchers as long as you use them to buy the items that you were going to buy anyway. Why not save yourself a few dollars when you can, as long as it’s not an impulse purchase. Flybuys and The Woolworths Rewards progam often offer incentives to buy certain items or to spend a certain amount. These are great IF you would buy it anyway. It’s worth working out how much those points are actually worth as often it’s not much at all.
Shop At More Than One Store
While this takes more time, it is guaranteed to save you money. I like to do my main shopping at Aldi, and then I will go between the major grocery stores to stockpile their super specials. I also try to buy my fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer, as I find their prices are often a lot cheaper than the supermarkets. Everyone is going to be different depending on where you live, but suss out the best prices and start shopping around. Asian supermarkets are also a great place to get a lot of items.
Don’t Be Brand Loyal
Brand loyalty is a marketing term that basically means that you’ll buy a certain brand no matter what. And the ‘no matter what’ is generally price. If you really love a particular brand, then wait for it to come on sale, otherwise try out other, cheaper alternatives. You might be amazed to know that a lot of the no-name / own store brands come from the exact same factories as the more expensive brand name products. This applies to Aldi too. Aldi do not have their own factories so if they’re selling a product, there’s a high chance it’s coming from the same factory making the brand name product.
Buy in Season
I’m a huge believer that it doesn’t have to cost more to eat well, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables. The key is to buy in season. I love avocados and will eat them every day when they’re $1.50 each. When they try to charge me $5 an avocado, I move onto another meal idea. I try to limit fruit and vegetable items to those that are less than $3 a kilo. I know it sounds tricky but I guarantee you can do it if you try!
Shop From Your Pantry First!
This one may sound silly, but before you go to the supermarket check what you already have. Can you make a meal from any of the items in there? Are there any meals that only need one or two more ingredients? Then buy those and use up the items you already have. Most of us have a cupboard full of items that sit there forever. Pull them out, do a pantry inventory and save yourself from buying more. You can read more about how to shop from your pantry here.
If you shop weekly, stretch it out an extra day and shop very 8th day instead of every 7th. If you shop fortnightly challenge yourself to go a few extra days without going to the store. Monthly? Go an extra week. It’s amazing how you will find ways to use up what you have, and just going to the store 1 day later (if you still buy the same amount of items) will mean that over a whole year you will shop 7 less times. That’s 7 x your weekly grocery amount that you will save. Remember, this one only works if you stretch out what you have and don’t buy more.
Utilize store reward cards
This tip is only for the purchases that you were going to make anyway (using the previous tips), but if you are going to shop at a store that has a reward program, then why not join. The aim of these cards is to get you to spend more, but if you only use them for necessary purchases, you’ll find the rewards will still add up and you get a nice reward at the end.
Buy marked down items and freeze
One of the best purchases we made was a big deep freezer (although if I made the purchase again I would probably go for one with drawers instead). It has saved us so much time and money. I bulk buy a lot of our meat and freeze it in individual servings. I buy marked down everything and freeze. Meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, pretty much anything that we regularly eat, that I know can be frozen, I will grab when it’s marked down. Vegetables get sliced up ready for stir-fries or casseroles, fruit gets put into bags to make smoothies and meet is portioned into meal sized servings or mixed BBQ packs.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to save money at the supermarket!