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20 Ways to Save on Grocery Shopping

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by Trudy Monk (subscribe)
Keep it authentic. Keep it affordable. Keep me keen.
Published March 7th 2013
Life is expensive, so save on the basics to spend on special
1. PLAN – impulse shopping is the cancer to your shopping trolley. As painful as it may be, lists and pre-thought plans can save you those moments of "Oh I'm sure I can do something with that!" Know your meals, know your skills and know your budget.

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2. SALES – both a good thing and a bad one. On one hand, you can save on items that you use and are confident will be beneficial. If the items you usually work with are on sale, perfect. You've saved a few bucks. On the other hand, sales can be brand promotional and try to entice you to "switch it up" when you should be sticking with brands and products you know and are happy with. Think about it – do you usually use it or are you being tempted to try a new product line which isn't worth it?

3. BULK – "The more you buy the more you save" We've all heard it before and it's basic logic is true. When it's a good price, stock up on the basics like toilet paper, foil, cling wrap, cleaning supplies because they don't go off. BUT you really have to think about waste. Food wastage in Australia has amounted to $8 billion a year! Don't contribute to that when you can purchase the right amount of goods for you and your family. For those with big tastebuds – Costco is great for saving big bucks for big families and small businesses.

Cosco can really help save on items you use regularly
Image Credit: Parent Collective

4. COMPANY – shopping by yourself will reduce the pressure from children, or adults with brains and taste buds like children. Do it your way, you know what's right.

5. EAT before you shop. The logic is that you spend more money when you are hungry so avoid that temptation and fill the tummy first so it isn't growling as you walk past the chip aisle.

6. THINK FRESH – if it's been prepackaged, premade, pre-flavoured, pre-stuffed you are paying for someone to do that service and it's poor value. Buy things fresh and make it yourself. Cut your own vegetables, marinate your own chicken, make it fresh and freeze it yourself, buy in bulk and enjoy at your leisure. A little time and effort adds up in the end. Plus cutting out the nasties from packaged frozen food will have your body thanking you for the extra effort.

7. BE INSPIRED – Masterchef, My Kitchen Rules, Iron Chef…the cooking craze of the moment can help you healthy up your meals and use items with better value. Tips from the stars are actually helpful such as Curtis Stone's $10 family meals –they're great. Store magazines can also help you broaden your range of ideas and show you what you can make with things on special. Still remember to think smart. If it's exotic and expensive – save it for a special occasion.

Image Credit: Coles Supermarkets

8. LEARN - Know what things usually cost and what there value are so you can tell if something really is a bargain. Sale stickers can actually just entice you with their bright colours and bold writing but the savings are minuscule or comparing prices from years ago. Shop smart.

9. READ the new unit-pricing information. It's the fine print on the label in front of you and tells you what the true value really is when it comes to package sizes. Sometimes larger packs aren't the best value. Example: Dairy Milk Easter bunnies are $7 but $2.30 for 100g. A block is worth $2.80 for 100g.

10. CHECK – what you have already. Go through your pantry (right to the back) and clean out the fridge. It will eliminate items on your list and will encourage you to use the things that you have. It might also inspire you to change up some of your usual recipes and allow you to play with flavours.

11. BASIC – porridge, cous cous, millet, pasta, fruit, lentils, beans, salad. They're generally better for you, extremely filling and recipe possibilities are endless.

12. QUICK SALE – discount items, end of day goods or quick sale items are really great value (sometimes up to $80% off). Just check the date items and think if you'll use them in time. There is nothing wrong with the items except the fact that they will be going off in a few days. You might even get to try a few things you couldn't afford before.

13. NO FRILLS – utilise home brand goods. They are great value and are cheaper mainly due to the lack of money spent on marketing, design and promotion. If you are a stickler for quality at least check out the prices in comparison on water, basic kitchen needs and cleaning supplies.

Image Credit: WAtoday

14. BUY DIRECT – cut out the middleman and it will save you big time. Marrickville is great for food straight from the supplier such as Faros Brothers Seafood and also Glenmore Meat Company in Glebe. Also, try the fish market. Can't get fresher and the trip feels like something special.

15. MARKETS – great for fresh local produce and the prices will have your jaw dropping. Look up online where your closet weekend market is on an explore the stalls with bargains galore. You'll be able to broaden your fruit and vegetable pallet as well because the prices are so friendly.

Image Credit: Tourism Australia

16. LOCAL – utilise the best from around you. Your local deli, butcher and grocer are competing with the big guys and supporting them works for you too. Produce is generally better in quality, fresher and actually better for you wallet because you're not paying for the convenience and displays of supermarkets.

17. COMPARE – just because it's a chain, doesn't mean they have the same prices. Location actually affects prices and inflation so make the decision to explore or venture out. It might take more time but it can save you up to 40% on your total bill. What's more important to you, saving some cash for the same products or a little bit more of a convenient location? Don't be a slave to the brand or chain either. You don't know until you try.

18. MAKE it yourself rather then buying something made by someone else. Create a pizza in your own oven with healthier and fresher ingredients. Make a bulk lasagne and cut it up whenever you want it. Brew your own stew and divide it into small containers and freeze. It's fun, creative and is something of a family event. You'll be eating preservative free and appreciate it more because of the effort you put into it.

19. CASH – use it over the card. No interest chargers and no chances of going over budget. If you know what you need, what it will cost, you can take the money you need and that way avoid any temptations.

Image Credit: Martin Kingsley / Wikimedia Commons

20. TEMPTATIONS – we all have weakness and if yours are sugar or salty snacks then avoid the bad aisles. Willpower is your most important tool, exercise it like a muscle. Chose the confectionery free counter and skip the areas with things you don't need . Supermarkets are laid out to encourage impulse shopping so know yourself before you walk in - shop smart!
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Why? Because we all need to save money for the better things in life. Save by saving on groceries.
Where: Your favourite grocery stores, markets, chains and fresh suppliers.
Cost: Try it cheaper!
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