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20 Ways To Save Money On Groceries

Groceries in the refrigerated section of the supermarket

Groceries are costing us more and more. Most of us are feeling the pinch right now. Our spending seems to have doubled or even tripled, even when purchasing the same items. It’s frustrating to say the least.

If you are feeling guilt with your grocery bill, know that you’re not alone. We are all paying more at the checkout.

A few months back, I ordered a Coles delivery. I missed it while at school pick up. Upon arriving home and seeing the groceries out the front, I couldn’t believe it. They had left half of the bags on the truck! Gosh, how annoying that was. I went to call them before deciding to put the first lot away. As I carried the bags inside and checked the receipt, I realised that no mistake had been made. That was what $300 of groceries looked like now. I felt like crying.

The more I speak to people about this, the more I realise that it’s not just me. We are all feeling it. Our money just isn’t going as far. The big supermarkets are ripping us off and making huge profits. (Looking at you, Coles and Woolies.) It’s demoralising and downright frustrating.

Give yourself grace. Food is just expensive right now. This is made worse by rising interest rates, the housing crisis, petrol and energy prices. It sucks.

Is there anything we can do to reduce our grocery bill?

Here Are 20 Ways To Save Money On Groceries:

1. Stick To A Budget

This is easier said than done right now with prices for groceries as high as they are. However, when we are intentional with our shopping habits and stick to a budget, the savings can really add up. Figure out how much you want to spend and see if this is possible with current prices. For those with allergies and intolerances, your grocery bill will almost always be higher.

Set an amount per week or fortnight. Allocate this to be automatically debited out of your main account into our groceries account. Have a separate card for this to use for fruit and vegetables, butcher, your supermarket (Aldi, Coles, Woolworths, Foodland, IGA, Costco, etc). Any left over goes to the following week. Someone super inspiring to follow is Serina from The Joyful Frugalista. She has clever ways to keep her grocery bills down.

2. Try Using Cash

It has been proven that we spend less when we spend with cash. There is something powerful about physically handing over cash to pay for something. We feel it and it affects us more than paying with a plastic card.

Cash isn’t always practical and it can carry a safety risk. I wouldn’t recommend everyone to start carrying around hundreds of dollars to pay for their groceries. It would be terrible if this got lost or stolen.

Perhaps try using cash for some of your purchases and see if it makes a difference. You could have your amount for groceries in an envelope, hidden inside a compartment in your handbag. Trial to see if it helps you stick to your budget.

3. Meat-Free Days

Incorporate some meat free days. Some people do meat free Monday. Others go vegetarian or vegan. We are reducing our meat intake and also bulk up mince with lentils. This saves money, is healthier and more environmentally friendly.

Years ago when I worked as an au pair, the family had some clever routines. One of them was Pasta Pesto night. Every Tuesday, they would simply pour a jar of pesto over cooked pasta. We’d add grated cheese and have a side salad. It was simple and delicious. Everyone ate it. It was one way of keeping their groceries bill under control.

You don’t have to follow a strict diet to eat less meat. You can simply decide to eat a little less as a way to eat healthier and save on groceries.

4. Meal Plan

Meal planning is a savvy way to keep your spending on groceries under control. Admittedly, I don’t always do this well. I have good intentions but this isn’t a consistent routine yet. I have a simple Kmart planner on the fridge. I write what we are having each night in whiteboard markers. I try to use up food we have and stick to our tried and true recipes. Some weeks I prefer to use up what we have and see it as a challenge.

If you’re not feeling inspired before or simply don’t have time to figure out the meals before you go, look for items on special or clearance and work backwards from there. They call that ‘backwards mapping’ in education and it can be very effective.

Simple Home Edit have some wonderful meal plan ideas. Nicole has recently released a book. I bought it and it’s fab!

5. Use Leftovers

Using up leftovers for lunches or dinners helps to save money on groceries. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like having to cook every day. I’d prefer to cook double on Monday and Wednesday, and eat leftovers in between. This saves money and time. 

Lately I’ve been trying Sunday cook ups, made famous by Simple Home Edit. Nicole spends a couple of hours every week preparing meals ready for the week ahead. It has made a real difference to my mental load and I feel more organised. I don’t dread cooking as much anymore. If your family members complain about leftovers, get them to cook instead.

6. Avoid Top Up Shops

These top up shops can seem harmless. I often have great intentions thinking I’ll just go in and grab some milk and bread. I’ll bring one bag and not bother to grab a basket or trolley. If you’re anything like me though, you’ll walk out with way more than you were going to (and can blow your budget!). 

If you need to get a few things, consider buying them from the service station (they can have good deals on essentials) or have a list to keep you on track.

7. Use Discounts

There are lots of ways to get discounted on your shopping. Admittedly, I don’t always remember to use them. I’m a work in progress, okay?

I like CashBack apps that reward me for shopping through them. Cash Rewards and Shop Back offer cash back on grocery shopping, often through gift vouchers. You can simply buy some in advance and use them with your groceries. You can find out more about CashBack here.

FlyBuys (Coles) and Everyday Rewards (Woolworths) offer promotions and discounts. It is worth signing up for their reward programs. FlyBuys, Cash Rewards and ShopBack run some generous competitions on their Instagram pages too.

The Entertainment App have great deals on groceries and offer discounts when purchasing gift cards in advance. It takes a few minutes but can save you big dollars.

8. Try Aldi

Aldi has been a huge money saver for many families. I like that there is less choice, the quality is good and the cost difference is big. Try to avoid the middle section unless you are looking for something in particular, otherwise you might end up spending more money than you intended to.

I just wish Aldi offered delivery and had a checkout for those who don’t want to rush or pack groceries themselves (here’s to hoping!).

9. Shop Your Fridge First

Before you head out to the shops, look in your fridge first. What needs using up? Pull out the leftovers that you could eat tonight. Pull out the items that are needing to be cooked up quickly. Consider making a stir fry or soup with items. (This where a Thermomix can come in handy!)

Look in your freezer. See what meat or veggies needs using up. Is there anything with freezer burn that should be taken out?

Look in your pantry. Is there anything out of date? What can be used with the items that need using up out of your fridge and freezer? Create a meal plan around what you already have.

If you need to head to the shops, hopefully you can spend less money on just the essentials to bulk up the dishes you want to make.

10. Breakfast For Dinner

Breakfast for dinner can be a real hit with children. It is often quick to whip up and is a money saving meal too. Keep it simple, like scrambled eggs, boiled eggs and soldiers, french toast or eggs and bacon.

Want to get a bit more fancy? Make some hollandaise sauce, add mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach. Cut up avocado and squeeze some orange juice. You could put bacon in the bottom of muffin tins, crack in an egg, add some spinach, mushroom and grated cheese, and put in the oven for thirty minutes. (Yum!)

Some children would be excited to have cereal or toast for dinner. It’s worth asking them what they feel like. Perhaps make this a weekly or fortnightly tradition as a way of keeping things easy and saving some money.

11. Shop The Outside Aisles

Most of us have heard that by sticking to the outside aisles at the store, we stick to healthier options. These are typically fruit and veg, meat, eggs and dairy. These aisles contain groceries which are typically whole foods and less processed and good for those with intolerances and allergies.

They are great to create meals from scratch. When you need to head to the inner aisles, try to do so with speed and intention.

12. Don’t Shop On An Empty Stomach

This is a big one for me. The times that I have shopped for groceries whilst hungry, I have ended up buying multiple family sized blocks of chocolate, packets of chips and snack food. I can’t help it. My hunger seems to overtake any logical part of my brain and I leave the store with far more than I came in for.

I try to eat before I shop. There are times when I forget or call past on my way home. On these occasions, if I can’t find any snacks in my car, I will often buy a flavoured milk carton on special and drink this as I shop (paying for it at the checkout). This might cost a few dollars but does save money overall at the checkout. With a full stomach, I can focus on what I need to get and get out of there.

13. Avoid Bringing Children

I’d recommend not bringing your children (or partners for that matter) when you shop for groceries. Why? Because we almost always end up spending more.

I realise that sometimes bringing our little ones to the shops is unavoidable. For some people, they never have a choice. I just know that in my experience, it is so much harder having them come with me (whinging, crying, fighting) and they always see things that they want (the Minions flavoured yoghurt pouch that they beg for and then spit out because they didn’t want strawberry flavour).

If you can, go in the evenings or on weekends or do an online groceries order. Take them for the odd top up shop so they can learn how to behave in public and how to buy food without the ordeal of a big shop.

14. Bring A List

Bringing a list might seem obvious or even a little old fashioned, but it is still important. When we shop with intention, we spend less money. We go in with a plan. We buy what we need. We get home faster.

We avoid getting home, only to realise that we forgot what we came in for. It doesn’t really matter whether you use a handwritten list, a printed document or list on your phone. As long as you can stick to buying the groceries that you need, along with any items on special, and keep track of what you have bought, that is the aim.

15. Make Your Own Stuff

The older I get, the more that I’m aware of all the additives and preservatives in what we eat and use. We use our Thermomix to make a lot of food from scratch which is handy with coeliac disease.

Lately I’ve been making my own hair and cleaning products too. I make dry shampoo, Flo sachets (to help clear sinuses) cleaning spray, window cleaner and laundry powder. I want to start making a toilet cleaner, dishwasher powder and carpet cleaner soon too.

These are simple switches but does add up. It also saves me time having to go shopping for more. When I run out, I simply make up more. This not only reduces the cost of groceries but is a healthier option for your family too.

16. Switch To Eco

Consider making the switch to a more eco-friendly alternative. Try modern cloth nappies and period underwear. These are a positive switch for the environment but are also good for your hip pocket too.

I need to try period underwear (it’s on my list of things to do). I also want to switch to bamboo toothbrushes rather than plastic ones. Small steps to helping our environment.

17. Grow Herbs

A few years ago, I would buy herbs from the supermarket. I felt silly spending so much money but wanted the fresh flavour. I was busy managing work and then young children and couldn’t cope with another thing.

My friend gave me mint in a pot. I loved the smell. It seemed to grow easily. My neighbours gifted me basil and coriander. Seeing pots out the front made me so happy. I somehow kept them alive and started buying more. At one point, we had over a dozen pot plants out the front. I decided to try them in the ground and haven’t looked back.

We grow mint, basil, coriander, parsley, rosemary, chives, oregano and sage. I am planning to add more. Growing herbs is a small way to reduce our spend on groceries and we love having them on hand. Start with one or two on your kitchen bench and see where it takes you. Perhaps see if you could swap some with your neighbours or friends to increase the types that you grow.

18. Plant Fruit And Veggies

Growing your own fruit and veggies isn’t a quick fix to spend less on groceries but it has so many benefits. Gardening makes us happy. It reduces stress. It helps get our children involved, teaches them valuable life skills and can help with fussy eating.

My main advice is simply to plant what you will actually eat. No point growing things that you don’t like the taste of. Start small and don’t overthink it. Over time, you will learn more about gardening and will hopefully have success with growing your own food. Eating fresh produce always tastes nicer and helps to reduce the cost of groceries.

19. What To Include

I find it interesting to find out what different people include in their regular spend on groceries. Do you include nappies, formula, cleaning products, sanitary products, shampoo, body wash or simply the food on the table? Do you include snacks or simply the items you use to make meals? Do you include all the top up shops and servo runs?

It’s easy to feel guilty about our groceries and compare ourselves to others. Know that we all have different family sizes, ages, appetites, allergies, fussy eating and time to prepare food. This all influences what we buy at the checkout. Give yourself some grace. You’re doing the best that you can.

20. Consider A Thermomix

Since buying a Thermomix early last year, it has helped our family save money. I’m the first to admit that we spend too much on groceries. It’s not for lack of trying. Between allergies, young children and lack of time to spend on cooking, I find it difficult.

We definitely spend less on groceries now that we have a Thermomix. I wrote my initials thoughts after a week with ours and how to afford one here.

Can’t afford one right now? Use your food processor or blender to use up veggies or hide them from picky eaters. Add it to your list to buy someday (perhaps with a tax return or sinking fund). I’m not affiliated with Thermomix at all, just a genuinely happy customer.

How do you save money on groceries?

I’d love to hear below or connect with you over on Instagram or Facebook. You can find discount codes here or on Linktree.

Melanie Wegener

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