Ever felt horrified by your grocery bill and wondered how it got so high? Here are 10 habits that will help slash your food shopping bill.
1. Shop weekly or fortnightly
Daily visits to a supermarket to pick up one or two items increases the chances that we will buy more than we bargained for.
2. Make a list
Writing a list beforehand is another way to curb impulse spending.
3. Set a spending limit and pay with cash
Knowing what you are able to spend on groceries helps you prioritise and making a habit of paying with cash helps you stay within your limits.
4. Pay attention to unit prices
This one is easy to overlook but it really can make a difference at the till. The unit price appears in the small print on supermarkets prices. It tells you how much something is per 100g, for instance. As this article What can we learn from a packet of Pringles? shows when you compare similar products the lowest price is not always the best value price.
Dr Gary Mortimer and Dr Clinton Weeks from QUT Business School did a study of 400 shoppers across Australia to see if they could reduce their grocery bill by using unit pricing. It found a family of four could cut their grocery bill by $1000 to $1700 annually by using unit pricing.
5. Know what items cost
It’s easier to spot a bargain when you know what things usually cost. For instance, I’ve seen my local supermarket charge anything from $30 to $15 for 1kg of my favourite coffee. Instead of waiting until my coffee runs out, if the price drops to $15 I swoop.
6. Watch out for markdowns
Meat, yoghurt, fruit and veg, cheese, bread, barbequed chickens and pre-packaged meals are just some of the items that can be marked down around 6pm or as they get closer to their best before/use by date.
7. Shop seasonally
The best prices on fresh fruit and vegetables are when they are in season and grown in Australia. Oranges in the middle of summer are likely to be from California and will be more expensive than if you wait until winter and buy Australian oranges.
8. Keep it simple
The more pre-packaged dinners, frozen meals, pasta sauces or processed food you buy the higher your grocery bill will be. As much as possible fill your trolley with ingredients for meals you can cook at home.
9. Get smart on supermarket selling tactics
Putting chocolate and magazines near the registers to tempt you while we’re waiting in line is just one of the tactics supermarkets use to make you spend more than you intend. Switching the location of items can make you dive into aisles you don’t normally visit; bread and milk are generally up the back so you have to walk past other items to get them; the most profitable lines of a particular product are usually stocked at eye level. The more we are aware of these tactics the less likely we are to be caught out by them.
10. Avoid the supermarket when you’re hungry or blue
Shopping when you’re hungry is often a recipe for filling your trolley with more than usual. You can also find chocolate, magazines, ice-cream and other treats creeping into our trolley if you’re feeling down.