Five ways to save on grocery shopping

10 Jul 2019

On average, Australian households fork out $150 every week on groceries. So when it comes to trimming your weekly household spend, there’s no better place to start than at the supermarket.

According to Natasha Janssens, a financial expert with Women with Cents, most of us miss the small savings. “It seems like just a couple of dollars here and there, but over the month or the year it can really add up to a lot.”

Here are five simple ideas that can help you make meaningful savings at the checkout.

1. Shop your pantry

Ever found ingredients in the back of the pantry that you can’t even remember buying? “We all waste a lot of money buying things we already have in the pantry or the freezer,” says Natasha. So before your next shop, take stock of what’s in your cupboards, freezer and fridge, and use the ingredients you have.

2. Go meat-free one or twice a week

Research shows we’re more conscious of the food we eat than previous generations, so we’re not only buying smaller amounts of meat, but we’re buying more ethically.

Choosing to have meat-free meals once or twice a week will have you well on the way to reducing your family’s meat consumptions, as will reducing portion sizes. “Pad out your meat dishes with other things that make you feel full – like lentils or more vegetables,” suggests Natasha, “so you can make a small amount of meat stretch further.”

3. Reduce your waste

Here’s a fact that’ll take your breath away: according to FoodWise, for every five bags of groceries we buy, one will end up as garbage. That’s the equivalent of throwing $1,000 per household in the bin every year.

Foodwise suggests we can get a whole lot better at storing food and learning to cook up leftovers from the fridge. For ideas on how to conserve our most commonly wasted foods, such as bread, cheese and herbs, check out the FoodWise website.

Another way to avoid wastage is by creating meal plans. “Come up with some fall-back meal ideas for those nights that you’re running behind or too tired to cook a time-consuming meal,” Natasha suggests. This can also save you money on takeaway meals.

4. Buy home brands

Did you know that buying home brands can save you about 40% on your grocery bill, and shopping at Aldi can save about 50%?

According to a report by independent consumer advocate, Choice, “A basket of leading brand products cost on average $170.54 at Coles and $168.74 at Woolworths (excluding specials), while a comparable basket of Aldi brand products ($102.50, excluding specials) offered savings of about $66-$68 (49-50%), assuming you're prepared to forgo leading brands.” That adds up to some serious annual savings.

5. Plan, plan, plan

Finally, planning is the key ingredient to trimming your grocery bill. And once again, Natasha has some great suggestions. “Online shopping tools can help you plan your shopping list.” For example, “You can put items into an online cart to work out how much each meal is costing you. It can become a fun challenge to see how low you can go, while still eating a healthy diet.”

As you can see, just a few small changes can have a real impact on the size of your grocery bill, and allow you to make a sizeable dent in your other financial goals.