If there’s one place you likely need to save money, it’s at the supermarket. Grocery shopping costs each Australian household around $150 each week – ranging from $136 in Tasmania to $159 in NSW. But, say experts, with a few smart money-saving efforts, it could become less.
“People miss the small savings, which add up to much more than we expect,” says financial expert Natasha Janssens from Women With Cents. “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 some tips for saving money at the checkout.
Buy home brands
Choice reports that Aldi is the cheapest supermarket chain (saving about 50% from the total bill), and that buying home brands rather than premium branded products can save you about 40% at the till. According to 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.
Utilise rewards and loyalty programs
If you haven’t joined your local supermarket’s loyalty program, you may as well – the returns are minimal (about $10 for every $2,000 spent at Woolworths and Coles) but better than nothing. If you’re looking for more of an impact on your hip pocket, Canstar recommends considering a rewards credit card. You’ll earn more points (which can be redeemed for discounts) as well as frequent flyer points if you shop at the major chains. Check out the additional benefits you might be able to take advantage of, too, such as free home delivery on groceries or fuel discounts at participating service stations.
Shop your pantry
“We all waste a lot of money buying things we already have in the pantry or the freezer,” says Janssens. So before you hit the shops, sort through your fridge, freezer and pantry – yes, right to the back of the shelves – and utilise the things you already have.
This all comes down to planning. Janssens suggests creating meals plans will not only save you money, but reduce waste and help avoid takeaway temptation. “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,” she says.
Go meat-free on occasion
One trend in our shopping baskets these days is buying a smaller amount of meat than previous generations. Research says we’re keen to avoid the fattiness of meat, and we’re also buying more ethically.
You can reduce your meat intake by having a meat-free night or two each week and, when you do eat it, make it a smaller portion of your meal. “Pad out your meat dishes with other things that make you feel full – like lentils or more vegetables,” suggests Janssens, “so you can make a small amount of meat stretch further.”
Buy seasonal produce
Making the most of seasonal food is one of the easiest ways to alter your shopping habits. Pumpkin, for example, is often as cheap as $1 kilo in autumn and winter months – that’s significantly less than even the humble potato. And, when it comes to packing the kid’s lunchbox fruit, save the berries for summer and, instead, make the most of winter mandarins.