So finally, I have got around to writing down all of my tips for cutting down your grocery bill…
Most of these things I worked out myself by just taking the time and really looking at prices of things, but I did get a lot of tips from reading @stayathomemum Jody Allen’s book The $50 Weekly Shop-an amazing read that I highly recommend! Obviously not all of these things can work for everyone-we all have different needs, family sizes etc. so not all my tips can work with your grocery list. But hopefully you can find some that do 🙂
Work Out The Cheapest Place To Shop
Where do you do your grocery shopping? Coles, Woolworths, Aldi?
Why do you shop there? Because you like the store? Because it’s the closest to your home? Or because Sandra said it’s cheaper to shop there one morning at school drop off?
Sit down and actually work out what store is best for you. You can find prices for things so easily now with a google search. I went through all 3 stores above, and checked the prices of a general everyday shop for me (the items I buy the most) and found that Coles was cheapest for my personal needs. Everyone always says to me ‘why don’t you shop at Aldi, it’s so much cheaper!’ but really its not-eggs, milk, bread, cheeses, butter-and a whole lot of other things are cheaper at Coles then Aldi for me.
I’ve also found that some toiletries are cheaper at The Reject Shop then supermarkets-so if I am ever passing by one I go in and stock up on some products I use.
Shop Online or Click & Collect
Having a newborn baby, especially in winter made me dread heading to the supermarket!
So I started doing online grocery shopping-and soon fell in love with the convenience and service!
I also found that it helped with cutting down my spending, because I didn’t have all those temptations on the shelf that somehow always end up in your trolley.
With Coles, it’s free delivery if you spend over $150-or I just choose a window that delivery is only $4 or $6. I’m sure I’d be saving more then that from the temptations in the aisles!
I also like with online shopping that you can change your search preference to ‘lowest unit price’ so you have the cheapest option come up at the top. Sometimes if brand name items are on sale that week they can be cheaper then home brands, and its quicker then searching through all the products on the shelf to find the cheapest when you’re in store.
If you’re not home often for a delivery slot, you can do click and collect so all you’ve got to do is make your order online and then duck into the store at a convenient time and someone has done your shopping for you.
Meal Plan-Check Your Pantry
This is a massive money saver!
Once upon a time I would just stroll into the supermarket, grab 5-7 lots of meat for dinner meals, with no actual intention of what I was going to do with them. I’d then end up having to go back down to the shops mid week to grab ingredients to actually make something with them.
Sit down and plan out your meals for the week-and then write down every ingredient you need for each meal, then check your pantry and fridge to see what you actually have and what you do need to buy. So many times I’d come home to find I still had plenty of the things I’d bought hiding in the back of the pantry.
Meal planning ensures that you will use all of the ingredients you are buying, and that there wont be any wastage.
I also try and plan out the next days lunches with left overs from the night before, and also try and use ingredients later in the week with my meal planning so there’s no wastage. (tacos one night, then use left over sour cream later on in week for chilli con carne or baked potatoes etc.)
Now that you’ve written down your meal plan for the week, write down everything else you need. There is nothing worse then going to the shops, and then getting home to find you’ve forgotten half of the things you needed. Having a shopping list is a must, and keeping to it is even more important!
Don’t stray off of your list, keep your eyes on it and off of the shelves from those temptations.
Buy Home Brand
I buy almost everything home brand!
Pastas, Sauces, Nappies, Wipes, Yoghurt, Eggs etc.
There is no real difference between brand name and home brand items, besides the huge price difference! If you’re a brand name person-I erg you to start trying out home brand things-your wallet will definitely thank you 🙂
I think the only thing we buy brand name really is our deodorants and toothpaste, and a few other bits and pieces but even then I only ever buy them when on sale for 1/2 price!
Only Buy Items When On Sale
You can work out how the sales catalogs rotate pretty easily-and its always the same items that go on sale regularly. Once I worked out what they were, I don’t ever buy things full price now. When non perishable items are on sale I buy a few at a time to stock pile. I don’t have a very big house or storage so I can’t stockpile too much. But I roughly know how often they come on sale so I just get enough to get us through until next time.
I do still search through other stores catalogs, because if there is a good enough sale at say Woolworth’s, I’ll make the quick duck in to go and grab it.
We don’t get catalogs in the mail where we live, but I use the app Shopfully to search all the catalogs.
Check Prices Per 100g-Unit Pricing
Make sure when looking for the cheapest options, you are comparing per unit price. Brands trick you into thinking you’re making a cheap choice by making their packaging look bigger-when in fact you’re getting minimal product. You can find the price per unit on every price tag in the supermarket. If it is something you use a lot, buy the biggest bulk pack because I can guarantee it will be a lot cheaper per unit price.
Those of you who follow my Instagram stories would of seen recently that I posted about the price of grated cheese being double the amount of a block! People are paying a ridiculous about for the convenience of it pre-grated.
Don’t have the time to grate your own cheese?
Well, you shouldn’t be complaining about the price of your grocery bill if you won’t take that small amount of time to save yourself some money.
Buy Your Meat In Bulk
Again, you will need to work out yourself what is going to be the cheapest option for you depending on what sort of meat you regularly eat.
But for us, we have found that Tasman Meat Butchers is the cheapest option for us to buy in bulk at. I wait until their chicken breasts are on sale for $5.99kg (soo much cheaper then the supermarket!) and I do a big shop-they seem to go on sale about every 3 months. Some items I can get cheaper at the supermarket or elsewhere so I just don’t buy that there and try and shop the sales on at the time. Once you start paying attention to prices of things you remember what the average price of meats and other products are per kg so you know straight away whether or not you’re getting a bargain.
Otherwise, I only ever buy meat when its discounted heavily at the supermarket because its close to its due date. Again, I buy in bulk if there is a lot heavily reduced and put in the freezer at home.
You might have a cheap butchers or another large store around you that has cheaper options for meat-you’ll have to do some research and work out what works best for you!
Having a freezer stock cuts your grocery bill down dramatically because meat is such an expensive part of your shop.
Cheaper Cuts Of Meat & Marinate Yourself
If cooking stews or slow cooking meats, you can get away with buying the cheaper cuts of meat as slow cooking them will make them go tender-or buying chicken off the bone as it is cheaper and tastier.
Want to cook up some chicken breasts for sandwiches/wraps or just dinner?
It can be cheaper to buy a whole uncooked (or even pre cooked!) chicken then what it is to buy two pieces of chicken breast!? If you don’t need it all at the time, break it apart and freeze the other sections of the chicken (drumsticks etc.) or cook it all and then freeze the meats to have ready as pre cooked chicken to add to sandwiches, salads etc. at a later date.
Also, avoid buying pre-marinated and flavored meats-again you are paying a lot more for them. Season yourself at home with some spices and sauces-this is also a lot healthier for you too!
Freeze Your Meat
Once upon a time you wouldn’t catch me ever freezing meat! It freaked me out eating defrosted meat, no idea why-but I used to throw out soo much each week that either didn’t get eaten or went past its use by date before I could cook it.
Now, whenever I buy meat I freeze in straight away, even if I am going to use it in the next couple days. I find we have a lot of last minute dinner changes such as going out, or neither of us are really hungry come dinner time so we just have a light snack instead. Having my meat frozen means I never have any wastage. It also means I always have something in the house to cook if unprepared. I don’t have to worry about racing to the store to get some fresh meat for a meal.
Cut Back On Your Servings Of Meat
This one can be a hard one for those meat lovers (trust me, I live with one!)
But we are generally eating way more then a standard serving of meat with each meal.
Cut back your servings and fill your plate with more vegetables. You might not think its going to be enough but we are always over eating, and you’d be surprised by how little amount you actually need on your plate to fill your belly.
I bulk all my minces up with grated vegetables like carrot and zucchini or lentils and kidney beans. This is also great for those fussy eaters as it can be well hidden in the mince. Instead of using 500g of mince to a recipe I might only use 300g. You’re still getting plenty, if not more nutrients from the vegetables you’re bulking it up with, and saving on the cost of expensive meats by having less per serving.
Fresh Produce From Fruit And Veg Store
Again, this is something you will need to work out yourself where is cheapest. I did a lot of searching around to find a local fruit and veg store that actually had cheaper options then the supermarket-a lot I found where actually quite expensive, or barely had any stock. If you’re local to me, Gippsland Fresh Wholesale in Warragul is AMAZING!
They have weekly sales too just like a supermarket would.
I have compared my prices before and its been almost 3x cheaper at the fresh produce store.
Also, check the prices of what you’re buying and don’t buy things just for the convenience, such as pre cut vegetables or washed potatoes.
I also find that sometimes it is cheaper per kg to buy a whole item (such as a pumpkin, watermelon, cabbage etc.) then what it can be to buy 1/4 or 1/2 cut.
Only Buy Seasonal Produce
I only ever buy what fruit and veg are on sale. I refuse to pay $6 for a punnet of strawberries! My local store has weekly sales so I tend to buy whatever is on special that week, it also gives me a larger variety rather then buying the same things week after week.
Bake More-Get Kids Involved!
When it comes to lunchbox snacks, I avoid buying as much as possible!
Again, you are paying huge prices for the convenience of serving sizes already packaged ready to go.
Start baking more, or if you have kids old enough-get them to bake for you!
I didn’t know how to bake, and am still learning as I go-but its all trial and error. I just google recipes, especially if I have certain things in the house that need using (brown bananas, pears etc.) and find a recipe that works with ingredients I already have in the pantry-or if I dont I google an alternative (mashed banana or apple sauce can substitute eggs in baking)
When I do bake, I try and bake in bulk, or do numerous things at the one time-then freeze in serving sizes. I then just grab out the night before or in the morning to pack into lunches.
I have also made my own dried fruit with our dehydrator which cost me $0.50c for a huge container full!
Buy In Bulk
Another thing is to buy items in bulk and separate yourself into serving sizes. Such as packets of chips, yogurts and biscuits and dip, rice etc.
For example, a large bag of salt and vinegar chips is $1.94 per 100g, or a packet of 6 small bags is $2.75 per 100g.
For me to cut up my own cheese and use a large packet of rice crackers a serving comes to $0.25c. Pre made in the supermarket they start at $1.60 per serve.
It only takes a couple minutes to open up a big bag of chips or biscuits, and separate into small Tupperware containers or zip-lock bags for the weeks lunches or snacks.
I buy the Coles home brand 1kg Greek Yoghurt for $3.90-I use this for cooking, both sweet and savory and also as a snack-I add different fruits or some honey to sweeten. This lasts us sometimes up to 2 weeks in the fridge-$0.39 per 100g-compared to pouches or single serving Greek yogurts starting at $1.73 per 100g.
Instead of buying small packets of microwavable rice, buy in the big bulk bags-it honestly doesn’t take much more time to boil 1/2 cup of rice as what it does to microwave a packet. For a large bag, you are paying $0.14c per 100g-for a small microwave packet you are paying around $1.00 per 100g!!
Instead of buying packets of flavored oats, or baby cereals-just buy a big packet of home brand Rolled Oats-when Eadie was younger I blitzed these in the food processor to make more smooth, and then would flavor myself with fruits, or honey for me.
You are paying over 8x the price for your oats to be flavored and put into extra packaging!?
Avoid Packaging/Processed foods
I try to avoid buying most packaged food, especially those snacks and lunchbox treats. As I stated above, bake more-look up recipes and create your own snacks by cutting up your own cheese and crackers.
Make your own stir fry sauces, salad dressings and pasta sauces.
I’m still learning how to do all of these things but now whenever I don’t have something in the house, I always google how to make it from scratch, and most of the time these things are quite easy to do.
We snack mostly on fresh fruit and veg, and always have fresh produce as a side with our meals rather then processed, packaging side meals such as pastas or pre-packaged microwavable vegetables.
Having a pantry with your basic cooking ingredients has been a huge help to me.
I now make a lot of my own sauces for dishes, and am always looking up recipes for ingredients that need using (such as browning fruit). Instead of racing to the shops to get an ingredient for a meal, I usually see if I can make do with something else I’ve got in the pantry.
I also keep a full stock of canned vegetables and legumes-these are great for when I’ve ran out of my fresh vegetables or to bulk up mince/stew dishes.
Frozen Meals-Cook In Bulk
Whenever I cook a dish, I usually make it in bulk, so that I’ve got enough for lunches the following day, and also some left over to freeze. These are emergency meals that help stop the temptation of buying takeaway when you can’t be bothered cooking, and also for racing down to the supermarket last minute when you have nothing for dinner. I also use them for my lunch’s during the day, and if I have nothing for Daniel’s lunches I can easily pull out a frozen meal-which also stops him from having to buy his lunch.
Once I started meal planning, I noticed I didn’t really need to go to the supermarket as often. I started to see if I could stretch out my weekly shop to fortnightly, and it was done with ease. This cut my shopping bill down dramatically-I just duck into my Fruit and Veg store weekly, and pick up some more milk or bread if needed from there too. But as for everything else, with my meat being frozen, and most other items being non-perishable I can easily last a fortnight without grocery shopping.
Loyalty cards are awesome! You get rewarded for money you are going to spend anyway, so why not sign up and take advantage! But, you need to make sure that you don’t get sucked into buying things, just for points!
There’s no point spending an extra $10 for the week to hit your spend goal, to gain $5 in points, or buying a products that $4 to get $2 worth of points. I just activate all the offers I am given, but never buy something unless its a regular item on my shopping list-its not worth it.
Hopefully some of these tips can help you in cutting down your grocery bill-I was able to halve my grocery bill by doing all of the above tips.
I would love any feedback from you guys if you do find that it helps 🙂
Thanks for reading xx