Remember when you could feed a few people for $50 a week?
What about the days when you could buy milk and bread at the shops for a few cents?
Sadly those days have passed.
Nowadays, you probably look at your grocery bill and wonder where all your money is going.
But did you know that by making a few simple changes to the way you shop, you can bring your bill down?
Here are five easy ways you can tackle your grocery bill.
1. Plan your shopping route
It’s easy to just want to run into one supermarket and get all your shopping over and done with at once. But, according to financial experts making several stops at different stores can save you money – IF you stick to your shopping list. Head of Global Financial Education at Visa, Nathaniel Sillin, recommends you plan your grocery shopping by reviewing the weekly sales and coupons in stores near you. He suggests a number of scenarios, including buying your meat from a butcher and your non-perishable goods from a store such as Costco. One of his biggest pieces of advice is to be careful of how a store’s design can make you want to buy things you might not need. “Within an aisle, products are intentionally placed at adults’ or children’s eye level, and sometimes brands pay for prime placement,” he writes. “Sticking to your list, refraining from walking through an aisle unless you need to and remembering that the eye-level products aren’t necessarily the best bang for your buck can help you avoid these traps.”
2. Choose store brand products
You might be thinking that store brand products (home brand) aren’t as good quality as name-brand products. That may not necessarily be true. A study by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business found that professional chefs tended to purchase a range of store-brand products when they shop. Nathaniel Sillin recommends that if you’re trying to save money but still spending too much, it might be time to change what you buy. “No matter the discount, eating filet mignon each night will be pricey,” he writes. “Cheaper cuts of meat can be a delicious as well, and there’s a lot of advice online for how to best prepare them.” Remember, cheap isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the quality of your groceries.
3. Join in-store loyalty programs
There’s been so much talk about loyalty programs recently, particularly around the changes to Woolworths rewards scheme. Sillin recommends signing up to the loyalty programs. He said there are savings to be made by signing up, with members getting exclusive discounts plus the additional savings such as fuel discounts. If you’re going to spend the money anyway, you may as well be rewarded for it! Try to avoid buying things unnecessarily to get a discount, unless the discount is worth equal to or more than the extra you’d spend to get it.
4. Take advantage of discounts and deals
Do your research before you go shopping. Look at what is on special, particularly what is on your list or what you can use. There’s no point buying double and spending extra on groceries you won’t use – for example spending an extra 50 cents to get a second lettuce if you won’t use it. Sillin says taking advantage of discounts and deals can be a great way to enjoy those little impulses you need. “Plan for the occasional indulgence and let yourself make impulse purchases once or twice a month to keep from feeling deprived,” he writes. What better way to do that than to buy your treat when it’s on special?
5. Stick to your budget, meal plans and shopping list
The biggest thing to remember when grocery shopping is to set yourself a budget and write a list BEFORE you go shopping. First, set your overall budget – then break down how much you can afford to spend on food and if it helps, break your food costs down even further by how much you can spend on each food category. For example, $50 for the fortnight on meat and $50 on fresh produce. Once you’ve got your budget in mind, plan your meals. Start by planning dishes such as dinners – particularly meals that use staple ingredients or meals that could be used for lunch the next day or leftovers that could be turned into another meal down the track. Once you’ve done this, write your list. Sticking to a shopping list will help stop you wasting food and money.