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How To Save On Grocery Bills
Tips and tricks for frugal shopping
With the cost of living on the rise it's easy to find yourself in a situation where even just buying the basics, like food and petrol, can break the bank some weeks. So how can you save money on your grocery bill? With a few simple changes to your shopping habits you have the potential to save up to 93% on your groceries.
The first step to saving on your grocery bill, is to do your research. Work out what products you buy regularly and what shops in your suburb supply those items. You would be amazed at the variety of products speciality shops or independent grocers can carry. That tiny little greengrocer tucked in a back corner of a shopping strip might sell flour by the bulk, cheap rice or cheap canned goods. Take the time to browse and gain a familiarity with stock, as well as stock rotation. If you know that your green grocer has their main delivery on a Monday afternoon, the chances are they will heavily discount produce on a Sunday or Monday morning. Look at the price of items by litre or kilo, it's often cheaper to buy larger items than smaller ones. For non-food items, look at the active ingredients and their percentages. A tub of brand name chest rub can cost five times more than a tub of "no name" brand chest rub even though the "no name" chest rub has a larger tub as well as a higher percentage of active ingredients in it.
The second step to saving is to be flexible. Menu planning is great, especially in a busy lifestyle, but it can also be expensive. Buy what is on special, whether it's promotional or just heavily discounted, and menu plan based on what you buy. Look on lower shelves for products too, the most expensive brands are usually at eye level, while the cheapest are usually on the bottom shelves. If you don't like the idea of buying "no name" products, make an effort to try them just one time to see if you actually like what is in the plain packaging or not. Surprisingly, a lot of cheap products taste better than popular brand ones and have fewer in the way of nasty preservatives and additives too.
The third step to saving is to regularly check for discounts. Even if you are just popping into the shop for a loaf of bread, have a quick browse of the fruit and vegetable aisle to see if anything is on special. You'll soon be able to spot those yellow discount stickers easily with some practice!
Buy in bulk where you can! If you use a lot of jars of pasta sauce, and it pops up on special one week for $1, buy more than one jar if you have the room to store them and the best before date isn't soon. If it is, there is always the option of making up some pasta bake, putting it into individual serving containers and freezing them. This also works for fresh produce. If pears are on special for 50c a bag and have a limited best before on them, get creative with them and use them for snacks, pies (which can also be frozen), or poach them for dessert. If you come across packets of zucchini for 23c, buy as many as you can carry, make them into meals and freeze what you don't want to eat now.
Look for packaged fresh produce. Although it's not great for the environment, packaged food almost always has a best before date. This is where you can save the majority of your money on, if you can work out approximate stock delivery dates and the shelf life of the product. One packaged product that tends to pop up a lot at a heavily discounted price, is the Soup mix packages of vegetables (which usually contain a head of garlic, an onion, celery and root vegetables needed to make vegetable soup) so keep an eye out for them.
And finally, as random as this sounds, be nice to the people who are selling you your groceries. If you're nice to them on a regular basis, the chances are they will be nice to you in return and tell you of upcoming specials or store policies which might save you even more money. While things like the scanning code of practice (if the item scans higher than the advertised price and is under $50, you get it free) are easy to find, larger stores make it next to impossible to locate their customer service policies, which often have articles in them about when to offer larger discounts or free items.
It may take a while to get the hang of shopping so frugally, but once you do you're not likely to be spending any more time shopping than what you are now though you will find the total on the bottom of your grocery bill is far more attractive than it used to be!