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How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

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by Lorraine A (subscribe)
Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published April 12th 2013
Aldi specials board


I am so sick of visiting supermarkets everyday because I have forgotten something. When you go in for one thing, you end up with a bag or two full and $50 worth of stuff that you didn't really need.

Supermarkets are very good at product placement and it sucks me in all the time. I mean, who knows when your going to need a 30 pack of toilet paper, but it was cheap, so I better get it. How about some lemonade? Want a bottle? But they're on special for 4 bottles for $4, bargain, better get that even though I only need one!



Whilst the multi buy can be good if you actually need the amount on offer, it's also a great way to suck us into buying more than we want, how do we avoid it and stick to a budget?

This sounds very old fashioned and time consuming but a shopping list is a great start. Keep it on the pantry door or somewhere easily accessible so when you need something or getting low on something, write it down.

Do one big shop for the week and one top up shop if needed.

If you need to stick to a specific budget, take cash instead of cards, because you are more conscious of what you're spending and you only have a certain amount with no back up. It's amazing what you can get when you have to think about it.

Plan your meals for the week ahead so you have everything you need without going to the shops.

Have a back up plan, for when you run out if time to cook or don't feel like it. I make up a huge pot of pasta sauce and freeze it in portions. A quick easy meal that's cost effective and nutritious.



Weekly specials can be handy, Coles and Woolworths are fairly competitive in their prices. If it's something you eat all the time than it's worth while stocking up, otherwise ask yourself if you are just getting it because it's on special!

Watch out in the meat and vegetable department. Often meat such as chicken will be sold in packs and the price per kilo is almost double than what it costs at the deli or local butcher. In the fruit and veggie area, try and avoid pre packed items because the price difference is huge. Look at the price per kilo on pre packaged items.



Most supermarkets indicate the the price per 100 gram or per kilogram, compare them the get the best value.

Supermarkets put things that they want you to buy at eye level, so make sure you check out the things on the top and bottom shelves, they are usually better value and Australian produce.

Aldi is great for basics and is usually much cheaper on fruit and veggies than other chain stores as they only stock in season fruit and veggies. Be mindful to avoid the middle special section, as you will always spend more on their 'weekly specials'.

I really like IGA's specials, the best ones are the member specials, if you sign up they send the specials to your phone and they're generally always cheaper than other stores.

I know you are going to roll your eyes when I say NQR, but it's worth having a look. I would never go into NQR because I thought it was dodgy, and assumed food must be over the use by date and risking illness, however, I like NQR now. Whilst there isn't much I buy regularly, they have great specials and I found out most of the stock is from other supermarkets that are overstocked, discontinued product sizes or lines, new packaging and so on.

How do you shop on a budget?
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Your Comment
Are there any good websites for meal plans and shopping list help?
by Chane (score: 1|28) 1499 days ago
Aussie farmers direct. Not only that is easy to shop online, you are supporting local farmers. And there is no need to leave your house. They do have boxes that those that prefer. https://www.aussiefarmers.com.au
by newintstudents (score: 2|462) 949 days ago
I have always written shopping lists. I have a well-established habit of walking around the supermarket aisles saying to myself “don’t need loo paper, don’t need tissues, don’t need… don’t need…”. So when I pick a possible impulse buy I think “don’t need… but do I really want it?” More often than not, I’ll leave it on the shelf, and my budget is intact. Also, spending on a ‘special’ that I wouldn’t normally use is not saving me money, do I don’t do it.
by sueca (score: 2|113) 1499 days ago
Aldi is a great place to shop. NQR is the surprising grocery outlet that provides really affordable products and is one store that I insist on visiting each week. Their food always has a decent timespan before use-by-date. I can't say the same about Coles & Woolworths, regardless of what they claim in their advertising. You just have to look very carefully. I'm surprised that shoppers are only just now discovering that a shopping list is a great motivator in spending wisely! (Our mothers and grandmothers knew the importance of shopping lists and it worked for them! as it does for us.)
by Naomi Parry (score: 1|79) 1495 days ago
Have a look atList.asp">www.kidspot.com.au/ShoppingList/shoppinList.asp it has a basic printable shopping list and also a meal planner.
Aldi has a shopping list that adds the prices as you go, so you can keep track of how much it will costwww.smartershopping.com.au/browse.aspx

There are heaps of apps for shopping lists, but I have never used them as I don't have an i pad or i phone. Maybe some readers will have some great suggestions.
by Lorraine A (score: 3|1542) 1499 days ago
We plan our meals out for the week and shop online. It saves money from not buying items that arent required and also saves time spent in the supermarket.
by j.mar (score: 0|2) 1501 days ago
Bit of a drive to get to NQR. Don't think that will help the budget much.
by silan (score: 0|4) 1499 days ago
Careful of the cheap meat (mince etc) available at Coles. When the packaging has extended you can rightly assume the product has been gassed. Its worth noting that although fresh produce (fruit and vegies) are substantially cheaper at Coles and Woolworths it is difficult to determine how long the produce has been refrigerated before it has been placed on the shelves for sale to the consumer.Take care when purchasing pre-packaged coleslaw,potato salad,summer salads, etc. Some factories use bleach to lighten and clean their fresh produce.
by jaqal (score: 0|2) 1366 days ago
Great article and I'm with you , agenda to buy 1 product .. You come out with 10!
by Vinnie (score: 1|10) 622 days ago
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