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Published January 22nd 2013
You've got better things to spend money on
Saving money on your grocery shopping is child's play
There are lots of tips for saving on groceries and you have probably heard most of them. Such as write a list and stick to it, buy in bulk and never shop when hungry. But here are some tips that just might be new to you.
If you have to set foot in a supermarket, do what I call the periphery shop. That is you must never walk down the aisles but only along the outside edges. This mostly gives you access to basic necessities such as milk, meat, fruit and vegetables but doesn't expose you to other temptations. It also allows you to access the best specials, which are generally at the front of the store. If (and only if) these specials are something you normally buy, then it is well worth bulk buying these. Those $1 cans of baked beans will come in handy for a cash-trapped day or to extend a casserole, but those blocks of chocolate will just get scoffed, add to your waistline and your food bills.
Shop at Aldi, it really does save you money. Basically because it is so much cheaper and once you get accustomed to their brands, you save heaps. Click here for the article I have written on saving money at Aldi.
Aldi is just a matter of getting accustomed to different brands. Many of their continental goods are wonderful.
If you do go into a supermarket, do not be fooled by the buy two and save deals. You didn't plan to buy two, you only require one, so it is false economy to buy two just because it makes the items cheaper. You are actually spending more than you planned to and often these items are perishables which you end up throwing out in any case.
Learn where to buy items in a supermarket. A handful of spinach leaves which has to be weighed at the check out is much cheaper than buying a tub of spinach. A couple of slices of ham from the deli are much cheaper than buying a packet from the refrigerated section. Pre-packaged items may look great, but you are paying for expensive packaging and presentation.
However it is even better if you stay out of supermarkets altogether. Learn to use markets and find the best times to go. For example, shop at markets about an hour before closing, especially on a Saturday, as this is when vendors are thinking about packing up and quickly want to move their produce.
Markets near closing time are the best places to shop
Another way to stay out of supermarkets is to use a local butcher, greengrocer and chemist (as many chemists now stock household cleaning products). Even if goods are slightly more expensive you save money, because you are not tempted by things you do not want as you are in a huge supermarket.
Better still, shop at Asian food shops as they are way cheaper, especially for fruit and vegetables. Our diets are becoming more Asian in any case.
Think carefully before using a recipe rather than just cooking what is on hand. You know what it is like. You find a nice recipe, it calls for half a cup of mint (so you buy a bunch), djion mustard (so you buy a jar and put it back in the cupboard and don't use it again for a year) and some palm sugar (and you never use it again.)
Then there are all those in-store recipes that claim you can feed your family for $2.99 a person or less. But they cost it at the cost of what you use, rather than what you are forced to buy to create the dish. For example, they cost it at two teaspoons of satay sauce. The truth is you had to buy a whole bottle and it sits in your cupboard till you throw it out when spring cleaning, so really these recipes are tricks to get you to buy practically useless ingredients that clog up your cupboards.
If you do fall for a recipe, and we are inundated by them so it is going to happen, then get into the habit of ensuring that tomorrow's meal is based on the one you are having today. Take the example of the recipe using mint. Tomorrow's meal should include the left-over mint, such as lamb with mint sauce.
In fact, it is a good idea to find a recipe to start your week, and then find one for the following night based on the left over ingredients from the night before. If you take a few minutes and plan ahead like this, you will save money and not clutter your fridge and pantry with unneeded ingredients.
There are also some good recipe generators on the Internet where you type in the ingredients you have wasting away in your cupboard and it comes up with appropriate dishes for you. These include Recipe Matcher and MyRecipes , Cookthink and Allrecipes. Take tonight where there was left over lemons from last night's meal and some rosemary. When I typed in these ingredients I got a great marinade which called for the juice of two lemons, as well as lemon zest. Bang gone! No more lemons rotting in the fruit basket.
Well Nadine, I have been shopping for a good 40 odd years and I have picked up a couple more hints to take shopping with me next time I go. A great read and appreciation to you for the research you put in, Your a Star. Nanny Plum...
Meal plan! Meal plan! Meal plan! I have been able to cut my grocery bill in half by meal planning a month in advance. Don't do it with pen and paper - use an online service (I use "plan to eat"). It will hold your recipes, your plan AND spit out a shopping list for you. Has changed my life
Great article. I find that asian ingredients like sushi rice, spices or chilli sauce are so much cheaper at asian food stores than at the big supermarkets. I wish we had an Aldi here in Perth, I became obsessed with it when we stayed in Melbourne!