But there are so many ways to ‘cut the fat’ – frugal living means you have more money in your pocket at the end of the week! More money at the end of the week means less debt and more fun!
Here are our best 15 Frugal Grocery Shopping Tips!
1. Always Shop with a List
Sit down and plan your weekly/fortnightly/monthly meals including school lunches and work lunches – and work it all out. An Excel spreadsheet or similar is perfect to set out all the ingredients you need.
By not using a list you risk missing an important component of the food shop – and means more trips back – where you can be tempted by their tricks! Keep a list on the fridge or somewhere you will see it and add to it as required. Try and train your family to do the same! The main thing is – if it isn’t on the list -you don’t buy it!
I have a magnetic shopping list attached to the front of my fridge – so I just add the items as I think of them – but choose the method that works best for you!
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2. Don’t Shop When you’re Hungry
Don’t go when you’re hungry. This is a common tip, but it’s true: when you’re hungry, you want to buy all kinds of junk. You’ll end up spending a lot more. Eat a good meal first, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your list. Plus always take your own bottle of water and some for the kids too if you take them. Bottled water is an expensive drink – more expensive then milk these days!
Money Saving Hint:
Go to the Best Online Deal Sites for items like dishwasher tablets and soup mixes. They are often up to half the price.
3. Have a Budget – and Stick to it
Know how much you can spend on groceries and stick to that limit. Having a book or using the internet so you know the prices of grocery items is time-consuming – but can help you stick to that budget. Do a rough running total as you shop so you know how much you have spent, and how much you have to go.
If you are notoriously bad at over-spending at the supermarket, get your cash out first and leave your card at home. Take a calculator – that way there is no possible way you can go over budget! Harsh, but it works.
This is why doing your grocery shopping online is great – because you can total up the groceries you need (plus who wants to actually go to the supermarket when they can deliver it for you!).
Money Saving Hint:
Instead of buying pre-grated cheese, buy a large block of cheese (when it is on sale) and grate it yourself and pop it in the freezer.
4. Keep a Pantry Staples List
Staples mean you always have the cooking basics in your cupboard – and replace them as needed. Items like flour and sugar and milk. Know what you usually stock in your pantry and pick up extra if they are on sale.
It’s also a great idea to keep a few easy meals on hand in the pantry – like pasta and pasta sauce for those nights you are tempted by takeout!
A well-stocked pantry with basic ingredients means there is always a meal in the house!
Read More About Pantry Staples:
5. Buy As Much In Bulk As You Can Afford
But only on non-perishable items unless you have the freezer room! Especially items like toilet paper and toothpaste that have no expiry date. Store them in your linen cupboard when they are on sale and save save save! Don’t just buy items on sale for the sake of it – make sure they are what you need, what you will use and a brand you are familiar with. No point buying toothpaste on sale if no one in the family will use it!
Plus see if you can buy items like this at discount stores, the cheap shops or even Costco if you have one nearby, yes it might cost you more at the time, but if you can save money by using it over the course of a year or so, you are saving heaps!
Personally, I buy the following items in bulk when I see them on sale:
Most of these bulk items aren’t purchased from the supermarket – I mainly get them from online deal stores or local cheap shops.
Money Saving Hint:
The best Supermarket deals are usually at the end of the aisle.
6. Frozen Veggies are Just as Good as Fresh
Personally, I adore frozen veggies – there is never any waste. It won’t wilt and turn into water in the bottom of the fridge, it doesn’t take much preparation, and they are nice and quick (7 minutes in the microwave with a splash of water). Great for nights you really don’t feel like cooking.
Buy the bigger bags to get the best deal and make sure once opened you seal the bag with a clip to prevent freezer burn (if you don’t have a clip – a simple peg will do the trick!).
If only fresh vegetables will do – buy them in smaller quantities as you use them up. Sure, it’s a few more trips to the supermarket – but it will ensure there is no waste. Even better – you can grow them yourself.
7. Keep a Food Price Diary
Make a note of the foods you buy all the time – like Tomato Soup for example. Write the price down in a book or in a spreadsheet – it will help you keep a tally of what’s on sale, what’s good value for money, and what is expensive.
Okay so this is a BIG JOB…. but if you have the time – it’s a great way to evaluate how much you spend on groceries. Use your shopping docket to enter the prices into the spreadsheet. It’s also a great list to use when compiling your shopping list!
8. Eat Less Meat
Meat is very expensive. It is easy to find ways to make your meat stretch that little bit further. Bulk it up with veggies in a pie or with pasta and sauce. Try eating a few vegetarian meals per week – they are delicious and cheap! Think outside the square and look at food from other cultures.
Try a lovely chickpea curry or falafels with hummus and tabbouleh make a lovely change. Adding grated vegetables and lentils to things like spaghetti sauce is a great way to bulk something up – and hide veggies from the kids!
Money Saving Hint:
Spend time after your usual grocery shop to cut up fresh vegetables and place in long life bags in the fridge. This makes food prep so much faster!
9. Make (and Freeze) Your Own Lunches
If you spent $8 a day on lunch and a drink – over the course of a year that lunch would cost you $2,240.00. That would buy a LOT of groceries. So stock up on different types of breads and fillings, salads. Cook a little extra every night and take some leftovers for lunch from the night before.
Plus consider freezing your sandwiches for the week! Not only does it keep for longer, it saves time in the mornings too. Everything except salad freezes reasonably well, and when you buy your bread and fillings fresh and freeze them tightly – they will easily last for up to two weeks in the freezer.
10. Try Freezer Cooking
I adore freezer cooking – it involves cooking in bulk and freezing in portions to eat another night – we have written a whole book on it! It saves time because dinner is already made, and money because you can purchase food in bulk. Typical examples of foods that freeze well are spaghetti bol sauce or even filling for the Chicken Pot Pie!
Grab your copy of ‘Once a Month Cooking’ from Angus & Robertson
11. Buy a Slow Cooker
It will be the best investment you have ever made. Crock pots will cook anything – including roasts and desserts. Generally, you just cut up a whole bunch of ingredients, throw them in the crock pot and leave them for 8 hours and come back to a perfectly cooked meal. Especially great in winter for casseroles and stews and a great way to use the cheaper cuts of meat.
For some great crockpot recipes – Click Here!
12. Buy Generic Brands
Generic brands are a great way to slash your grocery budget. Especially items like flour, sugar and rice – at the end of the day- is buying a name brand for more money really going to give you a different result? Then you can have extra money to spend on the important items that do matter, like chocolate!
13. Keep an Eye on the Register for Mistakes
Supermarkets are not infallible, in fact, they make mistakes more often than you’d imagine! Keep a mental note on prices and watch them as they get scanned, especially the items on sale.
More often than not if a mistake is found, you get the first item for free!
14. Compare the Best Deals
All supermarket chains to a weekly specials catalog – if you don’t receive it just pop on-line. Plan your shop carefully – if you are out of nappies and someone has them 25% off – it is worth making a special trip for such a significant saving.
However, weigh up the distances traveled etc first or you’ll blow all those savings on petrol money.
But don’t just shop at supermarkets – there are a variety of places you can go to get great deals – you just have to find them! Some of my favorite shops to pick up a bargain include:
15. Cook Like Your Grandma Did
Don’t waste ANYTHING – go through your fridge and cupboard and make sure you use something up before it turns into mush or is out of date. Think creatively about how you can use a particular item.
Throwing away food is like throwing away money! This is where your crockpot can really come in handy! Make sure you totally clean out your fridge before grocery shopping – use up anything in the back and make sure you have plenty of room for the new groceries.
If you are stuck for ideas, you can still buy some of the really old-school recipe books such as:
Or check out some more modern cookbooks for basic foods:
A good example of doing this is your fruit basket – how often do you throw away fruit that has seen its best days? Instead of throwing it out – make it into a dessert (For example Apple Charlotte is a delicious way to use up damaged apples).