This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

How To Cut Down The Price Of Your Grocery Shop

Without living on baked beans.
Know your prices so you can bag the best deals at farmer's markets.
Know your prices so you can bag the best deals at farmer's markets.

No matter how hard you're trying to save, grocery shopping isn't really something you can give up altogether. A family's gotta eat, and depending on the size of the family, that can sometimes be a lot.

Couple that with the fact supermarkets are designed to make us buy more and you can see how easy it can be to blow your grocery budget, week after week, without even realising you're doing it. (And if you're reading this, guiltily thinking, 'but we needed those limited edition hand soaps!' we are definitely talking about you.)

Luckily, it is actually possible to cut down on your grocery bill -- it just takes a little planning and a lot of self-discipline.

Write a list

"I guess there's a number of things you can do, but the first and most important one is to make sure you always plan ahead and have a list," CEO and founder of JBS Financial Strategists, Jenny Brown, told HuffPost Australia.

"Go with a list and exactly what you want in your mind. Because one of the ways in which grocery shopping can blow out is when you see something not on your list, but you buy it anyway, and it ends up sitting in the fridge and going off or rotting.

"I think especially for those with a family, it's important to try to plan menus for the week and then shop to that."

Buy in bulk

Brown also suggests shopping in bulk for all non-perishable items at a discount chain.

"Go to an Aldi or a bulk or discount supermarket to buy things like pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes and washing powder. Actually, all the cleaning products," she said. "It's amazing. The savings are incredible. It's something I have been doing for the last 12 months and it really makes a difference.

"So my advice would be to buy all the stuff that doesn't go off, that you know you are going to use, and then you can supplement it with your fresh food and vegetables whether it be at your supermarket or butcher or local greengrocer."

Use your freezer

... and take note of specials.

"If you know as a family that you use minced meat a lot, then wait until it's on special and then buy it and freeze it," Brown advised.

"It will last for a couple of months. I mean I wouldn't suggest keeping it for months and months and months, but having a back up store of frozen food always comes in handy.

Got a lot of mouths to feed? Shop in bulk and save.
Got a lot of mouths to feed? Shop in bulk and save.

"Particularly for families where extra kids might come over at the last minute, you can pull that mince out of the freezer and make a big spag bol versus getting takeaway pizzas or what have you.

"I know personally, we've always got stuff [frozen] like chicken fillets. I'll buy them in bulk pack or when they are on sale and just make sure I rotate them.

"Also use it for your bread. When you buy a loaf, leave half of it out and put half in the freezer. It's all the one dollar savings that over a year make a huge difference and really add up."

Shop weekly

If you're in the habit of stopping off at the supermarket every day on your way home from work, you could be spending more than you mean to.

"Planning ahead really is key," Brown said. "If you do pop in on a regular basis like on your way home from work, you tend to buy stuff that you're not necessarily going to use and it becomes expensive.

"If you do that every day, you're blowing out your budget versus planning ahead and sticking to what was on your list."

Try your hand at growing your own herbs.
Try your hand at growing your own herbs.

Grow your own

This may sound far-fetched to apartment dwellers but it is actually possible to cultivate your own produce, particularly if you have a balcony.

"If you're able to, having a veggie garden is a great way to save," Brown said. "It's very easy to grow things like carrots and lettuce. Lettuce is a great example because you rarely use the whole thing and then it goes off.

"The same goes for herbs. They add so much flavour to your meal, and often you don't use the whole sleeve of herbs you buy at a supermarket. If you have your own you can just pick off a couple of stalks."

Do your research

At the end of the day, you're only going to know what's a good a deal and what isn't if you are aware of what supermarkets typically charge for certain items.

"Know your prices. That's the key," Brown said. "When I first started shopping at Aldi I made sure I did a bit of research. So, for instance, I knew how much a tin of tomatoes was at the supermarket, and it ranges from 80 cents to $1.50 depending on the brand.

"I knew that was the price so when I walked into Aldi and saw them for 60 cents, I was like 'bonus!'

"The same thing applies to fresh fruit and veggies at the farmer's market. You can get great deals but you have to know the average prices of things to be sure."

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