How to save money on food
Save money on food and groceries
There are lots of ways to cut the cost of food without going
hungry or sacrificing quality. Here are some ways you can save
money on your groceries at the checkout.
Plan before you shop
Saving money on food begins before you even set
foot inside the shop or click on the supermarket's online order
form. It's important to have an easy plan you can stick to.
Write a shopping list
Keep a writing pad and pen in the kitchen, or keep your phone
handy to type up a shopping list. During the week, add to this list
whenever you think of things you need. You can even look online to
check the prices of ingredients on your list so you have a rough
idea of how much you will spend.
Remember to take your list with you when you go shopping so you
don't forget anything. Only buy what's on the list - this will make
it easier to stick to your budget.
Plan your meals
Plan your meals in advance and add the ingredients to your
shopping list. Create a menu based around items you already have in
the pantry so you use the food you already have and buy fewer
items. You can download a free weekly meal planner from
Sustainability Victoria's Love Food Hate Waste website.
Track your spending
To work out how much you are really spending on groceries, use
our free app for a few weeks. Once you know how much you spend, you
can identify ways to reduce your grocery costs and create a
reasonable budget you can stick to.
Track your groceries on the go with our free and easy-to-use
Leave the kids at home
Ask a friend to mind your children and go shopping without them
if you can. You'll have more time to compare prices and won't fall
victim to 'pester power'. However, taking your kids to the
supermarket from time to time can be a good way to teach
them about money.
Set a budget and only use cash
Set a budget for your shopping trip, withdraw the cash from an
ATM and only take this money with you when you go shopping. Don't
take any other cash or cards with you so you can only spend what
you have. This can help reduce the temptation to buy unnecessary
items at the store.
Work out your weekly grocery costs.
Embrace your 'green thumb'
Try growing your own food at home. You could start small with a
herb garden and, if you have the space, work your way up to a
veggie patch or even fruit trees. This can help you save money on
your grocery shop and is an activity the whole family can get
Don't shop hungry
Eat a meal or snack before you go to the supermarket. When
you're not hungry, you tend to buy less food.
Get supermarket savvy
Armed with your budget and your shopping list, now it's time to
stretch your grocery dollars as far as you can. Here are some ideas
to save money at the checkout.
Buy in bulk
Buy in bulk when things are cheaper. Products like meat can be
bought when they're on sale and cut into smaller portions. Freeze
each portion so you can use it as you need it.
Shop less often
If you usually go shopping each week, try shopping once a
fortnight. This will help get you into the habit of using all the
food in your pantry before you buy more.
Swap the brand names you always buy for generic products when
you can. You probably won't taste the difference, but the cost
savings can really add up.
Check expiry dates
Check the 'use by' and 'best before' dates on food so you don't
waste money buying things you won't use before you have to throw
Visit the markets
Dedicate some time during your weekend to shopping at the
markets. Buying direct from the farmer or supplier can often be
cheaper. Most markets will have a range of fresh fruit, vegetables,
meat and dairy, but remember to stick to your shopping list.
Check all supermarket shelves
Supermarkets carefully plan where they place products around the
store. The items they promote are usually at eye-level, so take the
time to check the shelves above and below for any cheaper
alternatives. This takes a little more work but it can make a big
difference to your shopping bill.
Avoid impulse buys
Some grocery stores have special aisles with impulse buys
that you would never think of buying unless you thought they were
cheap and on sale. If you can't trust yourself to leave the store
without purchasing a few of these, avoid the aisle completely so
you are not tempted to buy unnecessary items. Remember, just
because they are cheap doesn't mean you need them.
Cut down on junk food
There's nothing wrong with an occasional treat, but putting
chocolates, biscuits, chips and soft drinks into your shopping
trolley each week will have an impact on your wallet as well as
your waistline. If you can't avoid the temptation try making your
favourite snacks at home instead for a healthier, cheaper
Case study: Nadia's chocolate
Nadia loves chocolate but knows that eating too much is bad for
her. She decides to stop eating chocolate for 30 days as a health
challenge. A month later, she not only feels much healthier but has
also saved over $100.
Make the most of your food
Use your leftovers
Cook a large batch of meals early in the week and freeze them to
use as quick and easy leftovers. This can help avoid the
last-minute temptation of takeaways later in the week.
Add your leftovers to your meal plan so you don't forget they
are there. If they go off before you eat them then buying and
cooking in bulk becomes much less cost effective.
Try vegetarian meals
Meat can be expensive, so buy less of it and try making more
meals without using it. Lentils and chick peas are healthy
alternatives that bulk up meals when you want to cook a vegetarian
Making a few simple changes is all it
takes to save money on food and groceries. Plan what you need to
get and set a budget to make sure you eat well for less.
Last updated: 09 Apr 2018