With the ever-increasing cost of groceries burning a major hole in your pocket, here’s how to save more without losing your mind.
If the sight of your shopper docket at the supermarket checkout makes you want to run to the alcohol section to soothe your sorrows, you’re not alone.
A survey of 1,000 Aussies conducted on behalf of budgeting and debt specialists Fox Symes, finds that half of all Australians (52 per cent) are forced to use credit cards to pay for everyday costs including groceries because they simply don’t have enough cash available. Alarmingly, 2.9 million Aussies have to do this frequently.
Fox Symes director Deborah Southon says with flat wages and rising costs, now is the time to get smart about things that are in your control.
“Cutting back on the amount you spend on grocery items is always something you can improve on,” she says.
“Plus you should analyse whether you really need as much food and stuff as you think you do. Budget well and look for any way possible to cut expenses.”
Ease your pain at the cash register with these tips:
1. Prepare and do a regular stock take
To get your budget on track, observe how much your family eats and only buy and cook the consumable amount. While leftovers are good occasionally, don’t have uneaten stuff after every meal. Once a week get creative and make a stew or soup out of odds and ends. And look through your pantry and freezer regularly and use whatever’s in there within a few months.
2. Shop at the end of the day
So doing a big shop at night after a long day at work might sound like a particularly cruel form of torture. However, that’s when you’re most likely to encounter discounts.
“Perishable goods such as bakery items, fruit and vegetables are often replenished at the end of the day, so that’s when you could bag a bargain,” says Deborah.
3. Opt for stuff that isn’t perfect
Sometimes items which are a bit banged up or different will be discounted. Woolworths have some discounted fruit and veg under their “odd bunch” banner and greengrocers also sell stuff starting to deteriorate for marked down prices.
With hard fruit and vegetables such as carrots and apples, small black spots or mould patches can be cut off and you can eat the rest of the item safely. However, it’s best not to buy soft stuff such as avocados or bananas if they’re starting to go off.
4. Check out grocery clearance stores
Clearance outlets such as NQR (Not Quite Right) in Victoria offer savings of up to 80 per cent off items. What’s on offer is made up of excess stock, discontinued lines and cancelled supermarket orders.
The catch is some of it is close to or just past its ‘best before’ date.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries Food Authority reassures that foods are still safe to eat after their ‘best before’ date as long as they are not damaged, deteriorated or perished – they just may lose some taste or quality. Common ‘best before’ foods include canned foods, cereals, biscuits, sauces, chocolate, sugar, flour and frozen foods. This is different to a ‘use by’ date where food must be thrown away by the date specified to avoid food poisoning.