How to save money on food
Save money on food and groceries
There are lots of ways to cut costs at the supermarket checkout
without going hungry or sacrificing quality. Here are some ways you
can save money on your groceries.
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
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. Remember to take it 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 are using the food you've already got and buy
fewer items. You can download a free weekly meal planner from
Sustainability Victoria's Love Food Hate Waste website.
Use our spending tracker
To work out how much you are really spending on groceries, use
our free TrackMySPEND app for a few weeks to get a real picture of
your food spend. Then you'll be able to try to reduce that and
create a reasonable budget you can stick to.
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.
Don't shop hungry
Eat a meal or snack before you go to the supermarket. When you
are not hungry, you tend to buy less food.
Set a budget and use cash only
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 old school way of budgeting worked well for
previous generations before they had access to credit cards.
Use our budget planner to help you work out your weekly grocery
Save money at the supermarket
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. Cut larger portions of meat
into smaller packages so you only use what you need and keep the
others frozen to use later on.
Utilise 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.
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 brand names for generic products where you can. You
probably won't taste the difference, but the cost savings can
really add up.
Check the specials
Before you reach for the brand you always buy, check if you can
replace it with a cheaper alternative.
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
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
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
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 walk out of 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.
study: Nadia's chocolate choice
Nadia loves chocolate but knows it 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
Just 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: 01 Aug 2016