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Secrets to Saving at the Supermarket

Follow these top tricks and tips to help you stop overspending at the supermarket! 

We’ve all been there. You duck into the grocery store to buy a few ‘essentials’ and walk out 45 minutes with bags full of impulse purchases and junk food.

Don’t beat yourself up – supermarkets spend millions in research to find out how to make us buy more – but the fact remains that Australians are wasting over $8 billion worth of food each year according to Food Wise. That’s $1036 per household per year that we spend on food that we never end of eating.

We all know that before going to the supermarket we should write a list, have a strict budget and shop on a full stomach, but here are some other tricks and tips you can use to beat the system – and save money!

1. Shop by yourself

Everyone who’s been shopping with a child knows just how hard it is to say no when an almighty tantrum is brewing.  So if you can, try to schedule your shopping trips when they are with a baby sitter, school or playgroup.  

Also, research shows that people tend to buy more when shopping in groups. So go it alone – and don’t forget to take your list. On the subject of lists, if you’re not a list type person, there are heaps of great smart phone apps out there that can help. Or, try using a whiteboard pen and write on your fridge as soon as you’re out of something. This will remind you what you need to buy.

2. Take your own music

Feel like you’re listening to the easy-music radio station every time you visit the supermarket? That’s no mistake – supermarkets deliberately chose down-tempo music in the hope that you’ll slow down and spend more. Instead, take your own music, plug in your earphones, and listen to something up-tempo. You’ll be surprised at how much quicker you get your shopping done.

3. Cook on a budget

If you’re paying for prepackaged or pre-cut veggies, then you’re spending money you don’t have to. Same with pre-made snacks – buy the individual ingredients and make them yourself.

Also investigate recipes you can make with cheaper or secondary cuts of meat. Winter is a fantastic time for stews and casseroles – which lend themselves to cheaper cuts of meat beautifully.

A good trick is to stick to the outside isles of the supermarket – this is where all the fresh produce is. You’ll save a bunch making things like sauces and soups from scratch – and it’s a lot healthier.

4. Clean out your pantry

You may be surprised at how much you’re doubling up on ingredients you already have. Give your cupboards a good clean – throw out food that is passed its use by date, and before you buy it again, consider how much you’ll actually use it. If there is a special spice that you know you’ll only use for one ingredient, consider sharing it with neighbours and friends, rather than leaving it rot in your cupboards.

5. Buy in bulk

Consider buying in bulk – especially non-perishables such as toothpaste, toilet paper, or cleaners. You can save heaps of money if your supermarket is having a sale or there are many cut price supermarkets that specialize in bulk buying.  Consider setting up a neighborhood co-op where each of you take turns doing a bulk shop each month, then split the costs.

Ignore this advice if it’s large packages of fresh produce that you just won’t get round to using. It may be cheaper to buy in bulk, but if you’re not going to use it, you’re wasting money.

6. Look for what’s on sale in the fresh produce aisle

Take a shopping list with your basics and meal plan, but it also pays to see what’s on sale and buy seasonal. If your supermarket is having a sale on broccoli, then consider how you might be able to incorporate that into your weekly meal plan. Fresh and seasonal is always best!

7. Consider a farmer's co-op

Many major cities and towns offer farmers' co-ops that deliver boxes of fruit and veges, even meat and dairy.  Not only can these be cheaper, they are convenient and are supporting Aussie farmers. You’ll get the best local produce – and best of all, it lasts for ages.

8. Look below the price tag

The product that’s on sale isn’t always the best deal – get in the habit of checking the unit pricing (usually on the shelving price) you’ll be able to compare more accurately. If you’ supermarket doesn’t have one, take a calculator.


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