Grocery hacks to slash your weekly food bill
If your wallet gets a workout every time you visit the supermarket, you're not alone. Grocery shopping can make up a huge portion of the weekly budget, and according to Canstar Blue, the average weekly bill for a family of four is around $181.
For those with dependent children, that figure will only increase as the kids get older. Looking at ways to reduce your spending each week, even by a little, can equal big yearly savings.
To help keep more money in your back pocket, we have compiled some easy shopping hacks, to help reduce your grocery spend and grow your savings.
Plan out your meals
Meal planning is often associated with gym junkies keen to shred weight or build muscle. But it can also be used effectively to take control of what you buy and spend.
When you plan your meals, you have a better view of what is in your fridge and pantry to avoid unnecessary purchases and reduce food waste.
A last-minute trip to the shops can often mean overlooking what you already have, or shopping hungry, leading to pricey extra purchases in your trolley.
If you're not the type of person who can plan a full week in advance, even planning out one or two meals that are suitable for bulk cooking can go a long way to reducing your weekly food bill. When you choose what to cook, go for options that freeze well, such as chilli con carne or pasta, so if your plans change, you will have food ready in the freezer.
Shop seasonally and with a recipe
Seasonal produce is always the best choice, as it is fresher, cheaper and has a smaller carbon footprint if you are watching your food miles.
Anything grown locally will be in season, so look out for the origin under the name of the produce. Fruit and veg that come from overseas will never be as fresh and you will generally pay more for it!
If you still are not sure, try planning your meals from the recipes provided on the supermarket websites or in their magazine. Each monthly magazine is often based on what's in season and what's on special, so it's an easy way to save a few extra dollars.
If you haven't tried ordering your groceries online, now might be a great time to start. With the option to pick up, you will save time and money, as you are able to easily search for each item on your shopping list without getting side-tracked and keep an eye on your spend as you shop.
Shopping online also makes it easy to compare prices. You can look at what's on special at Coles and Woolworths, and do separate orders depending on where the best deals are.
If you can't shop online, see if you can at least shop alone. Partners and kids can be delightful distractions that may try and convince you to stray from your list!
Utilise your freezer
It's easy to forget that a lot of food can be frozen. If you are finding you aren't getting to the bottom of the spinach bag before it starts to turn, freezing the rest of the bag at the halfway point is a great solution.
Freezing spinach, herbs, and fruit are easy ways to extend their shelf life. You can use these ingredients to whip up a smoothie or add to flavour and nutrients to dishes without heading back to the store.
Just don't forget what you have put in there. Use labels or a black marker to name and date each item so they are easy to locate.
Buy in bulk
Bulk buying can be smart, as long as you use it for the essentials (and not for that five-kilogram jar of Nutella!). Products like meat, or pantry items when they are on special are smart ideas, but take into consideration whether you have space at home to store these items.
Make sure you keep an eye out for the unit price. Just because something seems bigger, doesn't mean it is better value. Compare the price of bulk purchases to the single items to make sure the savings stack up.
As a family of four with two children under the age of five, the Ling family makes it their mission to save money on groceries. According to Mrs Ling, being organised is key to saving money.
"As busy parents we can spend way too much money on the run with kids. It might sound simple, but being organised and planning ahead saves us serious dollars on our groceries," says Mrs Ling.
When under time pressure, it can be easy to just drop into the supermarket and load up the trolley, but families are often better off shopping around, explains Mrs Ling.
"I can get better prices for certain groceries such as meat, dairy and packaged food from ALDI, as they stock smaller, lesser-known brands, which reduces the cost of my weekly shop," says Mrs Ling.
For fresh produce, Mrs Ling and her family utilise a local small business that delivers boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables to her home each week. As the products come directly from the farmers' market, it is very reasonably priced and lasts all week.
"We also buy most of our cleaning products and personal care items monthly from an online company that sells plant-based products. This monthly subscription gives us great discounts and rewards," says Mrs Ling.
Each of these strategies help Mrs Ling and her family to reduce the overall cost of their groceries, saving between $40 and $60 per week!
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of State Custodians. The above is general commentary only and is not advice tailored to any individual's financial situation. We recommend seeking advice from a finance professional before implementing changes relating to your finances.