Grocery hacks to slash your weekly food bill
If your wallet gets a workout every time you visit the supermarket, you're not alone. Grocery shopping can make up a huge portion of the weekly budget, and according to News Hub, the average weekly bill for a family of four is around $290.
For those with dependent children, that figure will only increase as the kids get older. Looking at ways to reduce your spending each week, even by a little, can equal big yearly savings. For example, cutting your weekly grocery bill by just $20 a week will save you $1,040 over a year!
The Pawley family is well-acquainted with saving money on their groceries. As a family of four with two toddlers, the Nelson-based family has figured out that shopping online enables them to keep a close eye on what they are spending and limit impulse purchases.
"I'm not tempted as much to purchase random items on special because they're not staring me in the face in person. I can easily go to my pantry and see what I actually need, instead of just guessing what I have at home," says Mrs Pawley.
This simple change saves the family between $20 - $50 each week and allows them to keep to a tight budget.
"Once I get to the online checkout, I can take items off my list if I have gone over our budget. My supermarket even saves all my favourite items so I can easily see what I usually get. So good! Changed my life. Plus, I'm not needing to cart babies around the supermarket for an hour," says Mrs Pawley.
To help keep more money in your back pocket, we have compiled some easy shopping hacks, to help reduce your grocery spend and grow your savings.
Plan out your meals
Meal planning is often associated with gym junkies keen to shred weight or build muscle. But it can also be used effectively to take control of what you buy and spend.
When you plan your meals, you have a better view of what is in your fridge and pantry to avoid unnecessary purchases and reduce food waste.
A last-minute trip to the shops often can mean overlooking what you already have, or shopping hungry, leading to pricey extra purchases ending up in your trolley.
If you're not the type of person who can plan a full week in advance, even planning out one or two meals that are suitable for bulk cooking can go a long way to reducing your weekly food bill. When you choose what to cook, go for options that freeze well, such as chilli con carne or pasta, so if your plans change you will have food ready in the freezer for you.
Shop seasonally and with a recipe
Seasonal produce is always the best choice as it is fresher, cheaper and has a smaller carbon footprint if you are watching your food miles.
How do you know if something is seasonal? Anything grown locally will be in season, so look out for the origin under the name of the produce. Fruit and veg that come from overseas will never be as fresh and you will always pay more for it!
If you still are not sure, try planning your meals from the recipes provided on the supermarket websites or in their magazine. Each monthly magazine is often based on what's in season and what's on special, so it's an easy way to save a few extra dollars.
If you haven't tried ordering your groceries online, now might be a great time to start. With the option to pick up, you will save time and money, as you are able to easily search for each item on your shopping list without getting sidetracked.
Shopping online also makes it easy to compare prices, you can be looking at Countdown, PaK'n'SAVE and New World all at the same time, and do separate orders depending on where the best deals are.
If you can't shop online, see if you can at least shop alone. Partners and kids can be delightful distractions that may try and convince you to stray from your list!
The Pawley family based in Nelson, do their weekly shop online and save between $20-$50 per week!
Utilise your freezer
It's easy to forget that a lot of our food can be frozen. So, if you are finding you aren't getting to the bottom of the spinach bag before it starts to turn, freezing the rest of the bag at the halfway point is a great solution.
Buying fruits, veggies and meat when they are on special and freezing them will ensure you always get a good price, and that you will always have food on standby when you need to whip up a meal.
Freezing spinach, herbs, lettuce and fruit are easy ways to whip up a smoothie or add to flavour and nutrients to dishes without heading back to the store.
Just don't forget what you have put in there. Use labels or a black marker to name and date each item, so they are easy to locate.
Buy in bulk
Bulk buying can be smart, as long as you use it for the essentials (and not for that five kilogram jar of Nutella that you just have to have!), Products like meat, toiletries or pantry items when they are on special are smart ideas but take into consideration the space you have at home to store these items.
Make sure you keep an eye out for the unit price, just because something seems bigger, doesn't mean it is better value. Compare the price of bulk purchases to the single items to make sure the savings stack up.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Resimac.