For some of us, grocery shopping means an extravagant array of ingredients, ready to be turned into delicious feasts. For others, bread, eggs and milk remain the staples. But whatever your culinary tendencies, there’s a cost attached.
So how do you keep your grocery costs to a minimum, without ruining what you love about your shopping list? Marinated goat's cheese anyone?
Here are our six top supermarket hacks that can help you save money on groceries.
1. Buy in bulk
It’s cheaper than buying small quantities every week and great for cooking large batches that you can freeze - especially if the products are things you buy frequently anyway. While stockpiling of toilet paper during a health panic is not recommended, it is usually cheaper to buy toilet paper in bulk.
But don’t forget to check the unit price to make sure you’re getting the best deal. If you do the math, you might find that buying singular packs of certain products is cheaper. For example, you can sometimes buy two packs of dishwashing tablets for the same price of a bigger one if they’re on sale, giving you more in the long run. And you don’t want to be bulk-buying anything that doesn’t have a long shelf-life. It’s not really a saving if it all goes in the bin.
2. Get savvy with specials
If you shop at the big chain stores, keep an eye on their web or instore catalogues for special offers. Each little discount really does add up. And if you’re shopping in your local grocer, let the manager’s tickets on the shelves inspire your meal planning for the week ahead. If avocados are on sale, make a smashing guacamole on the weekend. If pasta sauces are half price, you know what’s for dinner tonight.
3. Stick to your list
Making a meal plan for the week or fortnight can save you from impulse purchases and could also reduce the amount of food you end up throwing out. Keeping in mind what you already have in your pantry, fridge and freezer, write your shopping list and get only what you need for your week. Including a few meat-free meals can help keep costs low and give a little back to the environment too.
4. Buy home brand
Big brand names and beautiful packaging can be tempting, but they often come at a price. The home brand or local version of a product is usually pretty similar ingredient-wise, and cheaper or easier to come by. Your tastebuds may not even be able to tell the difference. So, unless you’re choosing specific brands for ethical or loyalty reasons, consider going with the generic version.
5. Stay in season
Just because you crave mangoes all year round doesn’t mean your bank balance does too. Choosing your fresh produce based on whether it’s in season or not is a sure way to save on your weekly groceries - and it’s better for the environment. Plus, shopping seasonally gives you a diverse dinner menu across the year, and won’t see you serving up the same meal every week 52 times over.
6. Don’t shop on an empty stomach
Sure, sometimes it’s unavoidable on a busy day. But if you walk into the supermarket with your stomach rumbling, your waning blood sugar levels will probably start making irrational decisions on your behalf. Entering the supermarket for bread and leaving with Tim Tams is just your body saying “I could go a snack right now…”