The bargain-lovers guide to cost-effective shopping
Want to save a small (or not-so-small) fortune on your weekly grocery shop? It’s not as hard as you might think, with these five simple hacks.
Another day, another bag of groceries. Food shopping is the second highest household expense, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (behind housing costs) – but you might as well take 20% of what you’ve just paid for and throw it in the bin. According to sustainable food charity Foodwise1, Aussies discard up to 20% of the food they buy which amounts to $8 billion and 4,000,000 tonnes of national food wastage every year. The good news is, with a few adjustments to the way you shop and cook, you could be keeping that money in your bank account, and putting it towards a financial goal, like buying a house. Read on for some easy tricks that will make a positive impact on your wallet – and the planet.
DO A STOCKTAKE
Open your fridge and survey the contents. Is there a wilting lettuce crying out to join a salad before it turns to water? It’s possible then, that you haven’t followed the golden rule of grocery shopping: always take a list, and only buy what you need. With a bit of simple planning for the week ahead, your lettuce will remain crisp, and your food will be eaten before it expires.
Hot tip: What to do with the foods that have only days before they become bin worthy? Head to Foodwise.com.au, find the recipe planner and add the ingredients you have, for instantly-generated, simple recipes, and zero wastage. Clever!
USE TECH TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Why spend precious time trudging up and down aisles looking for bargains when there are apps that have done the hard work for you? Try Frugl (free, iOS or Android) which calculates all the best deals and shows you how much money you’re saving2. Half Price (free, iOS or Android) is another useful app which alerts you to all the 50% off specials in Coles, Woolworths, BWS and Liquorland3. All the major supermarkets have their own apps as well, making it easier than ever to track down bargains.
Hot tip: Try YWaste4, a free app (iOS or Android) designed to tell you which food outlets have surplus food at the end of the day. The food is discounted, and it saves business from losing money as a result of food wastage. Win-win all round.
SWITCH UP YOUR PROTEIN
When Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney launched Meat Free Monday in 2009, it was to raise awareness of the environmental impact of animal agriculture and industrial fishing5. But eating meat free a few days a week will also benefit your savings. Swap lamb for legumes and steak for a hearty salad. Just compare: 350g of chicken breast: $9.99. A tin of chickpeas which can become the protein source for a main meal? 80c.
Hot tip: Get creative with recipes that make plant-proteins appealing for the whole family. Think: veggie lasagne, cottage pie, bean quesadillas, fried rice, veggie burgers. For more inspiration, the internet has everything you could possibly need.
DO YOUR OWN SLICING AND DICING
Put down the pre-cut potatoes and the ready-made carrot sticks. A 1kg bag of carrots in Woolies is $2 per kilo. A 300g bag of pre-cut carrot sticks is $3, which works out at $10 per kilo. For even greater discounts, look for supermarket specials selling fruit and veg that are discounted because they don’t look as aesthetically pleasing as their perfectly formed counterparts. It tastes just as good.
Hot tip: Rather than be dazzled by the advertised price, most supermarket labels also list how much an item is per 100g, or per kilo, allowing you to make sure you’re getting the best value for money.
LOOK BELOW EYE LEVEL
Supermarkets have a whole host of sneaky marketing and shelf-placement tricks, designed to make you spend more. Products with a higher profit margin tend to be placed at eye level, so they’re easiest to throw in the trolley. Look down: chances are you’ll find generic brands that are just as good, for less. Be aware too, of items placed by the checkout, or on the way to pantry staples like eggs and milk, designed to tempt impulse purchases.
Hot tip: Budget. It sounds boring but it works. Challenge yourself by logging the amount you spend per week on fruit and veg, then look at ways you can cut costs. When you can see the money you’re saving, it becomes infinitely more motivating.