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11 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

A trip to the grocery store can be expensive for a lot of households but it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and a conscious effort to buy smarter, you can start to save money on groceries quickly.

Many of us turn to convenience over other factors because we live busy lives. But with convenience comes a price tag. If you want to save money on your groceries you will have to set aside some time to plan and make a few meals from scratch. Here are 11 ways to save money on groceries. 

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1. Make a budget and stick to it

Ah, the old budget card is first on the list because let’s be honest it’s pretty damn important if you want to save money. Knowing your budget allows you to work out how much money you can actually afford to spend on food each week. 

This doesn’t need to be complicated! Simply work out your income vs your expenses and get an idea of how much you can comfortably spend on food. 

By working out a budget you’re making sure you don’t overspend or overindulge on unnecessary things.

2. Plan out your weekly meals 

Once you have your budget set it’s a good idea to start planning out your families meals for the week. This is another step that doesn’t need to be over complicated. A good place to start is by writing down all of your families favourite meals. 

Go through the list of meals and think about your week’s schedule. If you have a busy week ahead and won’t have much time to cook opt for quick affordable meals like tacos or pasta. You could also consider meals that can be precooked then frozen like lasagne. Buying pre-made meals even from the supermarket is expensive. 

You will also want to consider meals that have similar ingredients or less of them to help save money. 

3. Eat less variety

Something I learned quickly when I moved out of home is that variety equals more money. This is something I consider when planning my meals for the week. It’s cheaper to bulk buy the same ingredients and make a large portion than it is to cook 5 different meal options. 

If you don’t mind eating the same meal two nights in a row you will start to see how easy and affordable this tip is! 

I love cooking chicken donburi bowls. You can make a large batch of rice with a salad and the marinated chicken than eat this a few nights during the week or for lunches. 

4. Shop seasonally

Shopping seasonally is the best tip I could give you for saving money on groceries. This means produce is plentiful, fresh and good value for money. 

You should notice what is in season by looking at the price per kg. Usually, the produce that is on special is the one to go for but you can always check online for your area. 

You may have to adapt your meals to this way of shopping but it will save you plenty of money over time. 

Today I went to my local grocer to pick up fresh produce and noticed that green kiwi was on sale for $1.20/kg but the golden kiwi was $7.99/kg. I usually go for the golden variety but the price was well out of my budget so I opted for the green instead. 

5. Buy frozen fruit or vegetables when they are not in season

If you love a berry smoothie year round then this tip is for you. Here in New Zealand fresh produce like berries and mangoes can be expensive so it’s worth checking out the frozen section. 

You can save quite a bit of money by opting for bags of frozen vegetables and fruit and to be honest, they are probably fresher than the shelf stock. I tend to buy big bags of berries, spinach, corn and capsicum when it’s not in season. 

Even if spinach is in season it can be better to buy frozen for smoothies as the price per kg is far cheaper. You can even use the frozen stuff in a quiche, frittata or pie. 

6. Shop locally or at the local farmers market.

Consider shopping locally at a farmers market or small vegetables store near your home. It’s important to support your local community and it’s rewarding knowing where your money is going. 

You can usually find fresh produce for a good price when shopping this way. Local farmers often grow varieties that are different to supermarkets to add a point of difference to their shop. This always excites me as you can find plenty of variety within your budget. 

11 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
Different varieties of mushrooms at the local Farmers market.

7. Don’t be picky about brands

This is a big one when it comes to saving money on your groceries. Are you someone who buys house brands or labelled brands? I would say I buy both! 

If you need to save money on your groceries then start making regular swaps on branded products to the options that are the best value for money. 

When I say I do both I know which products my family will like and dislike the swap of. I will buy the most affordable but quality milk, butter and eggs that I can find regardless of brand. The same goes for frozen produce, juice, and cereals. But some things you just can’t handle swapping like your favourite brand of coffee. 

This is fine as long as you budget for these items and make small swaps in other places you can still save money on your groceries. 

8. Check prices per weight on Pricing tag

This is a tip that I learnt from a family member. When you shop here in New Zealand the price tags on the shelves show how much you are paying per g or kg. This is important to check because sometimes an item may seem like it’s cheaper but in fact, you are paying more per g than the other size options. This also helps you work out if the house brands or others are better value for money. 

This also helps when supermarkets have specials like two for deals. There have been many instances where buying two of the bigger sized products works out cheaper than the deals.

Another good tip in the fresh produce section is to look if pre-packaged items are cheaper than pick your own. Sometimes you can buy pre-packaged bags for a lot less and vice versa. 

9. Eat before going grocery shopping or shop online

Warning, Do not skip this step!!! Let’s be honest going to the supermarket hungry is a recipe for disaster. Goodbye budget! 

Make sure you shop after a meal so you aren’t craving everything you walk past and make bad shopping decisions.

You could also look into shopping online if you want to be really strict on what you spend. There’s far less temptation this way.

10. Learn to use up what you have

This is something that I am learning more about and will be sure to share more in future blogs but using up what you have is a big money saver. 

Food waste is disturbingly high around the world. You would be surprised by how much food doesn’t even make it to the supermarket shelves. Thankfully it’s starting to become a common thing for stores to sell the ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables in New Zealand to help reduce waste. 

If you can become crafty with your meals and use up what you have you will be surprised by how long your dollar can stretch. 

I recently purchased this book that has been inspiring my creativity with my families leftovers or food we would usually just discard.  

11. Always keep pantry staples on hand

This tip is not so much about saving money on your trip to the store but more so in the long run of being able to make meals from less. 

If you have a fully stocked pantry with essential items like flour, baking staples, spices, and oils you will be able to make your ingredients stretch to more meals. 

If you have leftover corn, some flour, and baking powder you can make corn fritters. Serve these with a side salad and you have a meal for your family. 

11 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

I hope these 11 ways to save money on your groceries has helped you see that it doesn’t have to be hard or daunting. Some planning, a few small changes and thrifty thinking can go a long way for your bank account and help you reach your goals. 

This is actually something that my partner and I are working on at the moment as we prepare to buy our first home together. It’s so important to work out a budget and make a plan to help you succeed at your saving goals.

Did you discover a new tip that you’re excited to implement? Let me know in the comments below! 

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