I had a rather large epiphany while doing the weekly grocery shop last weekend.
I’ve always assumed that the key to saving money on groceries was to buy the cheapest possible brand (for the products I need, over that of the more established and expensive brands).
It’s a good strategy don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a great strategy. It sees you routinely save money on recurring grocery purchases you make; it doesn’t however see you constantly challenge your budget.
In order to constantly challenge your budget (and reduce the cost of groceries) I decided to change tactics.
So what is my new tactic to pay less for groceries?
Changing what I purchase each week to focus on buying specials (and price reduced items).
This means instead of going to the shops with intent to purchase a set list of groceries, I would instead go to the grocery store with intent to change what I am buying once I get there depending on what gives me the best value.
An example of this in action:
My old strategy would see me visiting the grocery store to buy the ingredients for spaghetti bolognaise; a key staple in our household and very cheap to make.
Instead of grabbing the cheapest mince, the cheapest sauce and the cheapest $1 pasta – I would first check whether there were any specials that would see me completely change my purchases. For instance, chicken was dramatically cheaper than beef due to markdowns, thus I scrapped my intent to cook bolognaise and instead focused on a dish that uses chicken.
How does this save you money and reduce the cost of groceries?
Opting to buy cheaper brands is a good start, however it is by nature capped in terms of how much money you can save.
Remember, this strategy applies to ‘eating seasonal’ also; if the fruit you like is more expensive (due to it not been in season) – switch to something that is ‘on season’ and pocket the savings. Other areas to consider are:
- Opting for generic cleaning agents that will still do the job
- Buying seasonal fruit
- Shopping later in the day to see what is marked down
- Trying completely new products / recipes based on cheaper ingredients
- Buying limited edition versions of products that are no longer sold
Adopting this new strategy will see you be able to vary your weekly grocery spend, often downwards, to use the savings to put towards more pressing aspects of your finances.
You could use the savings to:
- Buy extra groceries
- Pay a little extra towards your credit card debt
- Reduce your mortgage
- Build an emergency fund
Remember, complacency and routine is the enemy of saving money on groceries. Small but effective steps to always try and reduce your spending is key. Give it a try, start buying what is on special and let us know how it changes your weekly budget.