Throughout my time here at Buckscoop, I have written a number of posts on the topic of grocery shopping. I myself like to cook, so it could be partially linked to that, but also I believe that food brings a family together, so why not do that without breaking the bank. Shopping is something we all have to do and supermarkets know this. There's plenty of advice available online to take advantage of which can speed up and increase the value of our weekly / monthly shops, while allowing us to make significant savings at the same time.
Awareness is the key in applying yourself to reduce your costs in an effort to increase the healthy produce you eat. Without certain knowledge and awareness, this could be very tricky. Extreme coupon utilisation might be a hassle for some, but whether you're somebody who's less inclined to use coupon discounts or someone who doesn't mind, the following tips will definitely improve your buying strategy whilst cutting your grocery bills at the same time.
First and foremost, if you want to save money on your fruit and veg, you need to buy in season. Buying out of season naturally carries additional costs are this produce is in shorter supply. To give you an idea of what vegetables are coming into season for April you've got the zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli and lettuce. Fruit shoppers can look forward to pineapples and mangoes in April.
Shopping List Importance
Its always advisable to make a list before you go shopping, primarily because you are more organised and secondly because its easier to remain on track rather than deviate from the list. Planning your meals for the month around fruit and veg in season can really help keep money in your pocket too. Planning may sound boring but logically, if you plan what you need then you will also never over purchase on certain produce and therefore throw less away too.
Don’t Go Hungry
Rule 1.0 never go shopping when you are hungry. Shopping with a rumbling stomach can lead to all sorts of chaos, especially where you wallet is concerned. That quick fix you want to scoff as soon as you have paid may be exactly what you want there and then, but most likely will make you feel guilty an hour later, especially if monthly budgets are tight. Moral of the story, shopping when hungry clouds your judgement.
Brands vs. Generic
Buying certain branded foods might be a tradition because of parents or relatives doing it before you. However, if you have never tried the stores own brand before, I would highly recommend it. The majority of the time the taste is almost identical for a substantially lower price. When looking specifically at fruit and vegetables, these types of produce are grown out of the ground with the same standards across the industry, so branded or not they will be the very similar. Consider this, branded products have bigger advertising budgets and therefore need to charge higher prices.
Typically Overpriced Items
Supermarkets make huge markups on certain items because they alter the product slightly, such as diced or sliced versions. Supermarkets charge you a premium for the convenience. To avoid paying more for exactly the same product these are some of the main items to avoid: cubed / pre-sliced meats, named brand spices, brand name cereals, branded batteries and pre-sliced produce.
Preserve Produce for Longer
If you go shopping and find that an item which you regularly eat, meat for example, is on special for an exceptionally good price, then consider buying more than necessary for the week or month to store the excess in the freezer. This can be a great way to pay substantially less for food that you know you are going to eat often. Products could include things like bread, meats, ice creams, fish or generally anything else which comes with the recommended ‘Freezable’ logo on it.
Shelf Life Terminology
Shelf life is something that can trigger people to throw away perfectly good food for simply not understanding certain terminologies. ‘Use by’ dates are generally used on foodstuffs that go off quickly, whilst ‘Best Before’ appears on a wide range of frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. A general rule for food is that if it says ‘Use By’ then either use it or throw it away on that date, otherwise its a health risk. Alternatively, ‘Best Before’ refers more to quality, so when it runs out it doesn’t mean food will be harmful, but it might mean texture or flavour is lost to a certain extent.
Healthy Costs Less
Surprisingly enough, eating healthy will actually cost you less at the end of the month compared to buying unhealthy convenience styled foods. Studies have shown that families who engage with weight loss programs also spend less because they are taught to eat smaller portions. Looking at it pro-actively, if you were to buy chips and ready meals for convenience, although it might cost less initially, over the space of a month, eating 10 of those ready meals could cost the same amount as buying all of its ingredients and cooking 50 of the meals yourself.
If you still like the convenience, consider services like Lite n’ Easy who are currently offering 10% off or a free extra pack of desserts with your order. Alternatively, for those who enjoy cooking, HelloFresh is another great alternative. Rather than sending you pre-prepared healthy dishes, as with Lite n Easy, they deliver healthy recipes and associated ingredients straight to your front door which you can then prepare yourself. Essentially, you get the joy of cooking but without the hassle of having to come up with ideas for meals while also making sure you have all the right ingredients available. They've got a first time incentive offer giving new customers 50% off their first order when you apply the following coupon code.
Foods that are prepared cost vast amounts more than its original product. Hummus for example is a major culprit, you can pay $2.35 per 100g of pre-made Hummus at Woolies, but chic peas in their original form cost $0.75c for 400g. You are paying 300% more for someone to blend your chic peas. Other products that are easily made and have similar markups are salsa’s, vanilla extract, fruit and nut mixes, croutons & bread crumbs, pesto and spice blends. You have been warned.
Check you Receipt
Supermarkets have numerous offers and special promotions on through out the days and weeks that pass, so sometimes their machines won’t have the correct price associated with he correct product. This is a huge annoyance and unfortunately the mistake costs Australians large amounts of money, make sure you check the receipt of your shop to see that the prices you thought you were buying for was actually realised.
As a bargain and deals website, when it comes to wine and booze bargains in general it's very rare to see a supermarket offering alcoholic drinks for less than dedicated online booze retailers (such as Winemarket and Dan Murphys). So save yourself the hassle of having to lug heavy bottles around in-store by instead taking the more convenient option of ordering online from these retailers while at the same time saving significant amounts of money too. When it comes to wine deals, if you're unsure of where to start looking online, check out some of our historic wine related bargains on Buckscoop to give you a better idea.
A final word of advice to all shoppers out there is to make sure you put your new products behind the old ones in your storage compartments. Its very easy to just sling it in the cupboard after you get home from work, but this will most likely result in perfectly good food perishing behind its younger cousin and being thrown away as a result. The basic rule of first-in-first-out should reduce your spoilage and wastage rates whilst increasing the value of your shops.