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Shopping on a budget

Stick to your money plan

We’ve all gone to the supermarket for a few things, only to get to the till and somehow it’s added up to $40 at the checkout...

Here are some tips to help you save a bit of money when it comes to food shopping.

  • Take a calculator. If you don’t like surprises and are shopping to a budget, then work out what you’re spending as you go
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry or in a rush. If you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to pick up a few extra things that each cost a few dollars and add an extra $20 to the bill. If you’re hungry you might pick up a bunch of tasty impulse buys that are expensive, not very healthy or that you never end up using.
  • Plan your meals. If you go to the supermarket three or four times a week buying things for individual meals, you’ll spend far more than you will if you plan what you’re eating and stick to it. Supermarket products are often bigger than you need for one meal, so shopping meal by meal wastes a lot of food and money.
  • Cut back on luxuries. When money gets tight, don’t just eat baked beans for a week. Cut back on the convenience foods and keep a balanced diet.
  • Buy budget brands. Each supermarket sells budget brands, and often the products are just as good as more expensive ones. Make sure that when comparing prices, that you are comparing the same weight of food. E.g. A 300gm tin for $3.00 is less value for money than a 430gm tin for $3.90. There is often a ‘per 100gm’ thing on the supermarket price labels that you can compare across products.
  • Supermarkets aren’t always the cheapest. Supermarkets are places of convenience. Places like the Mad Butcher and Export Meat Warehouse sell much cheaper meat than is available at supermarket. Fruit and vegetables can be half the price of supermarket on a Sunday morning at the markets.
  • Pick n mix bulk bins. Bulk bins with grains, dried fruit, nuts and other things can be good value for money where there are a lot of basic foods, plus you get the amount that you want, not a prepackaged amount.
  • Plan your meals around cheap, staple foods. Using rice, beans, noodles and lentils in your meals are a way to bulk up your meals, use less meat (which can be expensive), stay healthy as well as save money.
  • Learn to cook. It works out much cheaper to make sauces and meals from scratch than buying pre-prepared ones. It is also better for you and tastier – plus you’ll impress your friends with your culinary prowess.