You only popped into the shops to grab a few things and the next thing you know you’ve done the weeks shopping and a few extras because you were hungry. It happens, but those extras can add up. Here are a few tips that can help your budget no matter if you’re doing a big or small shop.
Tip #1: Plan ahead
Make an inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what items you need and what you don’t need to buy. You don’t want to get to the supermarket and buy an item only to go home and find you’ve already got it. There are apps such as Out of Milk that can help you with your inventory.
Tip #2: Shop only once a week
The less you shop, the more you save. This means fewer impulse purchases and temptations. Even if the supermarket’s around the corner, avoid doing little shops in between your bigger ones.
Tip #3: Look for substitutes
Look at your last grocery receipt and circle your most expensive purchases. When you’re next in the store, consider swapping these items for lower-cost alternatives. Don’t be afraid to try the home brand version of items – it can save you money.
Tip #4: Check out OzBargain deals
OzBargain is the go-to site for any bargain shopper – it has a very loyal forum of bargain hunters who update it regularly. You’ll find Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Aldi specials in there that you mightn’t have realised!
Tip #5: Buy male instead of female products
Did you know female products have a price difference to the identical product for men? It’s called the pink tax. So buy men’s razors, shaving cream, deodorant and body wash instead of the female version.
Tip #6: Don’t be afraid to ditch items at the last minute
If you realise you’re going over your budget, don’t be afraid to give some items back. You can hand them to the attendant and they will put them away for you.
Tip #7: Swap tofu for meat
Meat is expensive, let’s face it. Tofu is one of the most underused but useful foods, and it’s so versatile. It can be marinated, grilled and sautéed. It sucks up every flavour you cook it with, and comes in silken, medium and firm, depending on your taste.
Tip #8: Use boneless, skinless, chicken thighs instead of chicken breast
Chicken breast is very expensive per kilo, so why not change it by buying boneless, skinless chicken thighs? They’re just as delicious as chicken breasts and very flavourful.
Tip #9: Use frozen mixed vegetables instead of fresh
It’s a common misconception that frozen vegetables lose their vitamins. However, this isn’t true. In fact, they are just as good for you like fresh vegetables and in some cases are considerably cheaper. You also save time chopping, and can just use as much.
Tip #10: Plan a menu
It might sound silly, but it can be an excellent idea to write down what you intend to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven nights, and that way you can work out a list from that.
Tip #11: Clearance items
There’s gold in supermarkets – you just have to find it. Take a look at each meat display and watch out for any reduced stickers, as well as the bakery, frozen and dairy sections. Often a supermarket will have a designated section for discounted stock and remember, you can always freeze items from the discount bin, or return it if it is off – you’re entitled to a refund even if it was reduced.
Tip #12: Check out your local neighbour ethnic grocery store
Asian supermarkets are often a great place to find cheaper meats and produce, and you could get some unusual ingredients for much cheaper than your typical supermarket – think beans and spices for curries and rice.
Tip #13: Join a co-op
If you have a group of friends who also want to save on their shopping spend, then why not join a co-op? One person will buy all the products you need in bulk and then distribute throughout the group. You’ll find you save heaps more buying in bulk for necessities, especially if one member of the co-operative has a Costco membership.
If you don’t know anyone who wants to start a co-op, this handy Facebook page has listed the known co-ops in Australia
Tip #14: Shop online for non-perishables
While supermarkets go to war over bread and milk, the non-perishable items are getting lower and lower right under our nose – it’s just a matter of looking in the right place.
Check out these websites for up to 80 per cent off your everyday household goods: Grocery Shop and Kogan Pantry.