If you’re looking to save money, there’s only one type of loyalty you need to practice when grocery shopping – and that’s to your wallet.
Food is one of every household’s big ticket items. But, unlike other staples such as public transport or petrol, it’s not a fixed cost and there are plenty of ways to save.
Savings Guide founder and personal finance writer Alex Wilson says consumers who pay attention while supermarket shopping could save thousands per year.
The average household spend per week on groceries ranges from $104 for a single person to $314 per week for a couple with teenage children
“We under-rate savings on shopping as a few dollars, but it has been proven time and again if you do a sophisticated and smart shop … you can save hundreds off a weekly grocery bill,” he says.
To put the potential for cash savings in perspective, the average cost of raising two children to the age of 21 is an estimated $800,000, according to a report from AMP and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM). Of this figure, it’s calculated that food is second to transport as the highest expense.
On average, low income earners spend a total of $474,000 raising two children to the age of 21, with food costing $88,995, the research showed. High income earners spend more than $1 million, including $167,856 on food.
The average household spend per week on groceries ranges from $104 for a single person to $314 per week for a couple with teenage children, a separate review from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found.
Here’s the 10 best ways to cut costs:
Setting a budget for your excursion to the supermarket might seem obvious, but how often do you actually nut one out?
Mr Wilson suggests making the exercise a game, advising shoppers to try to spend less each week by hunting out relevant specials or shopping around.
“We can be lazy,” he says.
“We like what we like and buy the same things week in and week out, but why are we loyal? We should be loyal to our wallets and how much money we can keep in it.”
2. Make a list
Taking a list to the supermarket helps you to cut back on impulse spending – in effect, you’re guarding yourself against the marketing tactics of national businesses.
3. Shop around
Don’t be complacent – it pays to shop around. Pick a location where a couple of supermarkets, markets, delis and grocers are in close proximity, as the competition will drive prices down.
4. Ignore brands
Mr Wilson suggests switching at least one brand you use every time you shop to stop emotional ties costing you money.
“If you buy a brand week in week out, which many people are loyal enough to continue to do, a lot of the time the prices can be fluctuating for better or, most of the time, worse,” he says.
5. Look for the units
Pay attention to the unit pricing, which by law should be on every price tag at the supermarket. We’re often told that buying in bulk is cheaper, but sometimes supermarkets will flip that on its head, with the better value being with the smaller items.
6. Avoid “specials”
Unless it’s something you’re already planning to buy, ignore those items that are on special – the discounts are a marketing ploy.
“They’re very clever at getting you to part with your money so offers of two for one, these are all designed to disguise value in a product and make ‘savings’,” Mr Wilson says.
“[It] makes you feel like you’re getting value, but in reality you’re just spending more money in their shop.”
7. Use a smaller basket or trolley
“From a psychological point of view, we’re made to consume,” says Mr Wilson.
“It’s human. We have money, we like to spend money. If we have a huge trolley, we’ll feel compelled to fill it.”
Consider taking a small bag and filling that up instead.
8. Have a “no spend” day
You probably have some extras in your pantry – those cans in your cupboard, the leftover vegies from last night’s curry, the meat that’s been in the freezer for months. Make one day a week or fortnight a “no spend challenge” and use the leftovers/cans/pasta that will go bad or gather dust otherwise. It’s almost like eating for free!
9. Grow your own
A sure saving is to grow a few things yourself. With herbs costing about $3 a pop, a pot of mint, basil or thyme makes a welcome addition to any kitchen pantry and can save a lot of money. Rosemary, lettuce, rocket, tomatoes and chillis are also easy to grow yourself whether or not you have a garden bed.
10. Buy seasonal
Vegetables and fruit in season are often cheaper, particularly at markets if you can buy in bulk, and have the added benefit of being healthier.
And a few extras..
These are the ones that we all know, but often ignore. Buy home-brand where possible, don’t shop hungry and don’t take the kids.