Savvy food shopping: How to cut your grocery bill

Nov 10, 2019
Shopping for groceries can be pricey, but there are some easy ways to cut the bill. Source: Getty

With your kids now living in their own homes and managing their own money, you’d think the grocery bill would start to dwindle, but somehow that weekly trip to the shops still manages to make a huge dent in your bank balance.

Whether you’re unprepared and don’t have a shopping list to follow, or you’re noticing prices of food and other household goods are creeping up, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stick to the weekly budget and find affordable groceries. But, thankfully there are ways to cut down that bill, and it’s relatively easy.

Visit the cheapest and closest supermarket

You may be loyal to one supermarket having visited that chain for years on end, but changing it up and exploring stores known for their cheap prices could save you a bucket load. Yes, it could be a slightly longer drive, so it may eat up your fuel, or cost you a few dollars in additional public transport, but the saving is likely to outweigh this extra expenditure.

Choice, the consumer review organisation, recently undertook a mystery shopping experiment of the major supermarket chains and found shopping at Aldi can knock as much as $68 off a basket of groceries from Coles or Woolworths.

The German supermarket giant also beat out its competitors in this year’s Canstar Blue rating for customer satisfaction – its seventh win in nine years. The popular store was praised for continuing to differentiate itself on price.

But if there isn’t an Aldi close by, fear not, because you can still save big by checking when your local supermarket and food stores discount their products. It often happens on Friday afternoon or early evening, as they get rid of perishable items.

Buy wholesale

Going to wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in your city or town can really cut costs on boxes of produce. The Adelaide Central Market is a perfect option for those in South Australia’s capital with fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood and cheese all on offer for prices far cheaper than the major supermarkets.

While Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is one of the iconic places to visit in the chilly city with smells of delicious produce wafting through the streets. However, there is one downside – that tasty fresh food could go off before you have a chance to whip it up into a meal. So, be sure to find some friends, family or neighbours to share your purchases with.

Otherwise, you can use the food to make anything from pickled fruits and vegetables, jams and stews, to marinades and sauces. Check out Eugene Lee, head chef at Brisbane Indian restaurant Indriya, who has a recipe for pickled green thai mango for inspiration.

Buy in bulk

It first made a name for itself in America with residents filling their trolleys to the brim with bulk items, but within recent years Costco has started to draw in Aussie customers as well. Stores are continuing to pop up around the country, so if you’re close to the major cities, there is likely one within decent driving distance.

The only drawcard is the annual membership price you have to pay, but the $55 a year is just a small hit to the bank account considering the major savings you can make. Shopping at these stores also requires more storage space with the 200 toilet rolls sure to fill the cupboard – but at least you know they’ll end up getting used!

Take advantage of freebies and discounts

Heading to the grocery store can be a recipe for disaster with all of the delicious foods, such as freshly baked bread and cakes luring you in and somehow landing in the basket. To avoid this you could try out a meal service.

There are plenty on the market including Marley Spoon, HelloFresh and YouFoodz, and most of the time they offer a free week of meals or discounts on the first few purchases. If friends or family members are currently using one of the meal services, then they might also have a discount code they can pass on.

If meal services don’t sound like your thing, and you still want the freedom to cook meals of your choice, then there are also several online-only grocery stores that offer bulk buys and big discounts on specific groceries. Stores include Catch, Grocery Shop, Dealsdirect and YourGrocer. You can sign up to receive emails from the companies with specials landing in your inbox regularly.

Visit Foodbanks

Foodbanks exist to help Australians on low incomes by supplying free or low-cost groceries. The not-for-profit organisation offers everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to canned goods, with numerous donations from supermarkets and people around the country.

Currently over 815,00 Australians receive groceries from Foodbank each month so you’re not alone if you need an extra helping hand. You can find out where your local Foodbank is by visiting AskIzzy, a website backed by big corporate and government donors.

Of course, Foodbanks are for the needy so we wouldn’t encourage abusing the generosity of donors by suggesting you access their assistance until you are truly in need.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services advice.

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How do you cut your grocery bill? Do you have any money saving tips to help with buying food for the week?

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