Grocery shopping is a task that all of us encounter at some stage, yet despite being a weekly event, many of us still don’t get the hang of how to grocery shop in a way that’s optimum for our bank accounts. Here are fifteen hot tips to help you get frugal at the grocery store.
1. Planning exactly what meals you’re going to have will mean knowing exactly what you’ll need to purchase; this will cut down impulse buys drastically, and also reduce the number of times you’ll need to go to the shop.
2. Before you leave the house to go grocery shopping, do a “once over” of your kitchen cupboards and check what items are there; this will save you doubling up on items you forgot you already had and wasting money.
3. Check the use-by-date of any perishable items, like milk. If you found that you didn’t use it that much last time, buy a smaller quantity next time. This will save money and wastage.
4. Write a shopping list and stick to it - no more aimless wandering in the candy aisle for things you don’t need!
5. When you go to the grocery store take cash only, and leave your EFTPOS or credit cards at home; it’ll limit the amount you can spend and get you thinking more critically about what items you really need.
6. Buy items with a relatively long shelf life in bulk - rice, pasta or a large block of longer-lasting cheeses like cheddar are good examples. Only buy in bulk items that you know you or your family will consume.
7. Avoid frozen and pre-packaged meals; they’re expensive and usually don’t yield that many servings. Buy fresh and cook from scratch when possible.
8. Buy vegies on an as-needed basis; you’ll want them to be fresh, and they’re fairly inexpensive. This is better than buying lots of vegies and not being able to use them all then throwing them out.
9. Fresh fruit should be bought in small amounts and in a decent variety; this will ensure a bit of something for everyone. You can always go back to buy more fruit later if needed.
10. Buy canned fruits and vegetables; they’re cheap, have a very long shelf life, and can be used in a wide variety of ways.
11. Keep your eye out for weekly flyers or catalogues from your local grocery store; it will alert you of the best discounts and offers at the time.
12. Meat is usually the most expensive item on the shopping list, but many people don’t want to skimp on the quality, so head out early to a market and bulk-buy meat, then freeze it in portions (but don’t buy more than you’ll realistically use!).
13. You can also save on meat by buying less expensive cuts, like brisket or ham hock - they are slightly more fatty but can be slow cooked so that the fat melts and the meat is tender. Chicken, turkey and pork will generally be less expensive than beef and lamb. Alternatively, serve meat in less meals.
14. Canned tuna is cheap, high in protein and easy to add to pasta, or salads to make decent meals.
15. “Home brand” items are often very similar in quality to branded items, but much cheaper. “Home brand” cereals, yoghurts, cheese, bread and cleaning products can be significantly cheaper than their respective branded versions - remember you want to pay for quality, not fancy packaging, so do your research and compare nutritional values if unsure; you’ll often find that the “home brand” versions are not far off branded.