Are you off your trolley?

You could be, with our sneaky tricks to save money on your groceries

Are you off your trolley? You could be, with our sneaky tricks to save money on your groceries

Are you off your trolley? You could be if your supermarket bill is creeping over $50 per person for a family.

There are so many sneaky tricks to save money on food. You might even find that you’re healthier and happier when you buy more basic food. Don’t say it can’t be done. If your bill is out of control, try some of these tips.

Budget. Start with a figure that you want to spend on food each week and work back to figure out what you can afford to buy. Price and plan your meals to fit and stick to a list in the supermarket.

Plan, plan, plan. Use a meal planning app to ensure you only buy what you need. Some items are better bought in bulk. If you plan, however, you can use up all those half-opened packets.

Beware of basics creep. Foods that were once luxuries in my house are added to the shopping list as if they are staples. I con myself into thinking dijonnaise (mustard and mayonnaise) is a staple. Luxuries are fine, but need to have a dollar figure assigned to them, in the budget.

Don’t buy packaged foods. Food marketers are always looking for ways to upsell old products for more. That can be as simple as fancy new branding and packaging on fruit and veg. Or they create high-margin foods that you never knew you needed.

Buy budget brands. Many budget brands are the same as the expensive stuff. Tuna is tuna, for example. And some own brand products such as Homebrand cocoa is nicer than the branded stuff, in my humble opinion.

Buy bulk. I’ve taken to buying 10kg sacks of potatoes, 5kg of rice and big bags of onions, paying less than half of what I would if I bought smaller packages. My friend Google helps me find lots of interesting recipes to use them up. If a basic is on sale and it keeps, buy up large. But make sure you use it.

Go ethnic. Supermarkets, even PAK’nSAVE, aren’t always the cheapest place to buy. If there are ethnic supermarkets in your hood check out the prices. The savings can be huge on items such as herbs and spices and dry goods such as rice and flour. Bulk bin shops have bargains. The bulk bin stores and local markets can be very cheap indeed.

Eat up your leftovers. Kiwi families throw away the equivalent of three trolleys full of food each year according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Eat it. Brown bag it for lunch. Freeze it. Share it. And most certainly use it up before you buy more.

Substitute ingredients. Expensive ingredients can be substituted. Type in Alternatives To (Ingredient). Thanks to Google when I run out of eggs I used aquafaba, the liquid from a chickpea can, which is an excellent egg replacer and effectively free.

Make your own. There are so many things I’m too cheap to buy that cost a pittance to make. Let’s start with crackers, pavlova, biscuits, birthday cakes, pastry, rye bread, fresh pasta, dips and much much more. My friends think I’m a foodie. But actually I’m a tightwad.

Eat frozen. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be cheaper than fresh and retain their vitamins. But make sure you cycle through your freezer monthly.

Go vegan. Or at least have some vegan meals. Bean and tofu based meals can be very cheap and super tasty. But beware of buying all the fancy meat and dairy replacement foods targeted at vegans. While you’re at it, price the protein on your plate. If it’s more than $3 per person then read our pay less for your protein blog here.

You can do it. Start with point one and then try the other tips one at a time.

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