Life, Money

Driving down your grocery spend

Published on December 11, 2018 2:31 am, by

For most Australians, groceries are the highest expense after rent and mortgage payments. Saving $10 per week may not sound like much, but every $10 less you can spend a week is $500 over a year.

Know what you spend now & set yourself a challenge

How much do you spend on groceries? If you are set up in MoneyBrilliant, view how much you spent on groceries in the last 90 days. You can customise the dates if you’d rather compare weeks or months.

Are you surprised? Are you okay with it? Can you go lower? Do you want to?

If you are a MoneyBrilliant Plus customer, you can check out how much others like you spend. This might give you a starting point to understand if your spending is below average, above average or very close to what others like you spend.

If you’re ready to go lower, here are the 6 strategies we recommend using to keep your grocery bills down.

#1 Check the catalogues

Each Tuesday afternoon take 10 minutes to check the Coles and Woolworths catalogues for the next week. Anything that is a regular buy for you write down on your list. Staples like yogurt, fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, bread and toiletries all add up. Making sure you never pay full price for these items really impacts your grocery spending.

#2 Do some (or all) of your shop online

We are advocates of Click & Collect. It costs nothing but gives you the benefit of controlling your impulse shopping, with none of the delivery fees. Sticking to your budget shopping online is super easy with the tally updated each time you put another item in the cart. Overspent? No problem! Check through your trolley for items you can get do without this week and remove items until you are back within your budget.

You may prefer delivery, and if so, be sure to check out the cost of delivery to see if it’s really worth it – Woolworths offer a delivery saver from $15 per month while Coles charges per delivery. It might be worth the price of convenience depending on how often you shop it might be less than you might spend on petrol to go to and from the supermarket. The great thing about online grocery shopping is that you are less likely to impulse buy, which saves you even more!

Delivery and Click & Collect options both have minimums, but we often find that just purchasing the items you need out of the catalogue as well as staples like bread, milk, flour, and eggs will often get you over that amount. Having said that, Aldi is a fantastic alternative to Coles and Woolworth’s, often costing less for items including bread, yogurt, cheese, tinned goods, and meats.

A few things we’ve noticed: Woolworths charges the same price in-store & online, but Coles doesn’t. Normally it’s cheaper to shop instore at Coles rather than online unless you’re shopping purely from the catalogue.

#3 Meal plan

After reading through the grocery catalogues it’s a perfect time to scribble down some ideas of what to cook during the week.

School and work lunches? Make salads and sandwiches out of the meats that are on sale. You can often get a whole chicken for $4 or less per kg, cooked up that can do lunches for a couple of days. Much yummier and stretches further than the deli meats.

Cooking up a Sunday roast? Get extra meat and overdo the vegetables. You might get meat sandwiches for Monday and a roast vegetable frittata for Monday night.

Coles and Woolworths both put out magazines with recipes in them. You can access them on their websites or pick them up in-store. They also often have a meal or 2 in their catalogues based on what’s on sale that week.

#4 Find a good base meal that you can freeze and re-use

Do this often and get ready to thank your past self. It’s such a convenient way to eat on a weeknight when you’ve worked all day and the kids have after-school activities you need to taxi them about to.

An example is cooking up a huge pot of bolognaise. Freeze it into portion sizes that you can grab out on the nights you are tempted to eat take away instead. Bolognaise can easily be made into a heap of things, burritos, tacos, lasagne, and meat pies to name a few.

And it doesn’t always have to be beef mince, lamb, pork, and chicken are also very versatile.

#5 Don’t get too entrenched with brand loyalty

Aussies, in general, are getting better with this.  Aldi has risen in popularity and the home brand products market has grown significantly. But still, it can be easy to keep going back to the same brand. This can be familiarity, taste or just habit induced.

Home brands are just as effective as others often at less than half the price. And they make a huge difference to your grocery bill.

#6 Buy what you need

One of the crazy things that happens, is the more we buy the more we eat. Buying a big bag of chips is a lot more cost-effective than a bag split into portion sizes, but crazily enough it can be cheaper to buy the portion size bags. It just means everyone eats one portion instead of 2 – 3.

If you have the time, energy and commitment, the absolute best way to do this is to buy the big bag and split it into portion sizes yourself. Just make sure the kids bring the containers home from school, replacing containers constantly is also a costly exercise!

Other things on special though, stock up. The tinned tomatoes and half-price toilet paper aren’t really at any risk of being consumed faster!

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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