15 tips to save on groceries

Mar 27, 2023

Grocery prices are on the rise—here are 15 tips to help you save money on food

Have you noticed that prices just seem to get higher every time you visit the supermarket? Well, you’re not just seeing things: they really are. With the cost of living on the rise, it’s time to get smart about where, when, and how you buy your groceries. Here are 15 ideas to help you maximize those savings at the supermarket.

1. Shop around

Costco, Aldi, and other foreign competitor supermarket chains are usually fairly cost-effective, but they may not carry everything on your list. Or, they may have a few products that are more expensive than elsewhere.

While it may be more of an inconvenience, hitting up a few different stores to buy your groceries can help you save on certain items that are priced differently across the board. Take advantage of weekly specials to find the cheapest products, and compare costs from one store to another so you know where to shop for the best deals.

2. Use discounts and sales

Many stores offer weekly sales, which you can follow if you subscribe to their email list. You can also find deals on apps like Half Price, Wiselist and frugl. Of course, you don’t necessarily want to buy something you’ll never use just because it’s on sale, but if there’s a sale on bulk products you use often, it might be a good time to stock up.

3. Join loyalty programs

Loyalty programs do come with more of an upfront cost, but they almost always end up paying for themselves. Woolworths, for example, has a $59-a-year loyalty program that gets you 10% off your whole cart once a month. Coles also has a loyalty program that offers discounts in-store and online.

4. Shop online

On that note, shopping online can help you control your spending because it makes it easier to only buy the things you need, and you can see your total spend the whole time, making you less likely to go over budget.

If you have your groceries delivered, you can also save on petrol. Just be aware of any delivery fees and be sure to factor that in when you’re calculating the most cost-effective method for grocery shopping.

5. Compare unit prices

When you shop online, you can also sort products by unit price, making it easier to buy frugally. If you ever went shopping with your mum as a kid, she probably taught you how to read unit pricing—the comparative cost of similar products by kilogram, litre, or other measurement unit. Instead of looking at the actual price, look at the unit price when deciding which products to buy. It tends to help you buy more cost-effectively in the long run.

6. Give home brands a try

You may be used to your pricey brand name, but it’s always worth trying the home brand product, which is usually the cheapest option on the market. If you hate it, you can always switch back next time. But often, you won’t notice too much of a difference taste-wise, and you’ll definitely notice a difference price-wise.

7. Skip processed and prepared foods

Foods that have been processed, seasoned, or prepared for consumption tend to cost more than foods that are closer to their natural state. Once again, this means you may have to sacrifice a bit of convenience, but if you’re looking to reduce your grocery bill, skipping processed and prepared foods is definitely the way to go.

8. Buy frozen

There are two exceptions to the rule above, however, and one of them is frozen food. Frozen chopped spinach, for example, costs about $10 less per kilogram than fresh spinach. So if you have a fruit or vegetable on your list, consider buying it frozen instead of fresh. After all, it has the same nutrients and pretty much the same taste.

9. Check out tinned food

The other exception is tinned food. Cheaper and longer-lasting, tinned food can be a great cost-effective alternative to buying expensive fresh food like salmon or tuna. For example, at Coles, tinned salmon costs about $32 less per kilogram than fresh salmon. And while there may be a difference in quality, there’s some pretty good tinned food out there.

10. Keep an eye out for meat discounts

Many supermarkets have a section with meats that are expiring soon—and as a result, are heavily discounted. Take these meats home, freeze or use them right away, and you just scored yourself a major deal.

11. Freeze meat

On that note, forget keeping meat in your fridge—unless you plan to cook all of it that same day. A good way to store meat is to separate it into smaller bags or containers and stick them in the freezer as soon as you get home from the supermarket. This way, you won’t end up with a lot of expensive, expired meat that you can’t use.

12. Differentiate between “best before” and “use by”

When it comes to food expiration dates, you may have noticed two different terms: “best before” and “use by.” “Use by” means the food is no longer safe to consume after that date, whereas “best before” simply means the food may have declined in quality. This means you don’t necessarily have to throw something out when it passes its best before date. Instead, taste or smell it to see if it’s still usable.

13. Check what you have first

How many times have you gone shopping for an item only to realize when you got home that you had it in your pantry the whole time? It goes without saying that you should use what you have before you order takeout or buy ingredients to make something new, but that’s often easier in theory than in practice.

Try using the SuperCook recipe app to get ideas on what to make with the ingredients you have at home—no matter how assorted they may be—or just throw a bunch of vegetables and meat together with rice, pasta, or potatoes to use everything up before it expires.

14. Minimize waste

Few things are more disappointing than reaching to pull those peppers out of your vegetable drawer so you can finally make that tasty recipe you’ve been looking forward to, only to realize they’re soft, brown, and mouldy.

The fix may be as simple as storing fresh fruits and vegetables on the top shelf so you can keep an eye on them, making a list of recipes you intend to make that week and putting it up where you’ll see it every day, or just eating out less and eating at home more. Do whatever works, but find a way to consistently use that food before it goes bad so you can save more on grocery bills.

15. Do meal prep

If you have a busy schedule or just don’t feel like cooking when you get home from work, meal prep may be your best friend. When you make a recipe, make more servings than you need and freeze the rest so you can take it out, stick it in the microwave, and have a great meal ready in minutes.

It’s also not a bad idea to have a few frozen store-bought meals on hand to help you avoid the takeout temptation. You may feel guilty buying a frozen pizza, but think of it this way: you’re buying a $5 pizza from the supermarket now so you won’t be tempted to get an $18 pizza from Domino’s later.

All of the material published on this web site is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. This information is of a general nature only and has been provided without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, we recommend you consider, with or without the assistance of a Financial Adviser, whether the information is appropriate in light of your particular needs and circumstances

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