Whether you’re shopping for one or six, grocery bills form a significant portion of your monthly household expenses and with the price of produce always going up, it can be hard to balance tasty and nutritious meals with affordable ingredients.
Luckily, there are some clever ways to save on grocery shopping and reduce your bill each month. Here are our top tips to save money on groceries.
Doing your grocery shopping without a plan is a sure way to spend more money than you intended, as well as waste some ingredients. Whether you do a monthly or weekly shop, spend some time planning out your breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Then, only buy the ingredients you need for those. This works best if you can re-use ingredients across multiple meals – for instance, you might buy a whole butternut and roast some of it one night, then use the leftovers to make a butternut soup for lunch the following day. Remember that cooking in bulk and saving leftovers for the following day also helps you to save electricity because you’re only cooking once, so it’s a double saving. If you’re making soups, stews or lasagne, cook some extra and freeze or refrigerate it. Once a week you can have a pot luck leftovers dinner, so nobody has to cook.
For this you have to know your area well and know which shops reduce their items at the end of the day. Popular places include Woolworths garages, who often reduce items by 30% if they are nearing their expiry date, as well as Checkers who often have 50% off vegetables, soups, fruit and ready meals if they are going out of date, and even Pick n Pay who have reduced items. Remember that you can easily freeze fruits or blend mixed vegetables up into soups – or simply substitute your vegetables or salad one night for whatever veg is on sale when you shop.
Avocados and lemons are super cheap in winter, so take advantage and use fresh ingredients in your cooking. Buying out-of-season produce will always be less cost effective, so learn to love what’s in season! Make clever substitutions too – if a recipe you want to make in July requires a summer vegetable like eggplant or green beans, try using a winter vegetable like broccoli or green peppers. If you have local greengrocers or markets nearby, fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season are likely to be cheaper than you’ll find them at the supermarket. Plus, you’ll be supporting a local business.
Cutting out meat even once a week can make a big difference to your grocery bill as well as your health, because it forces you to eat more vegetables and break away from your usual habits. To ease yourself in, stick to a familiar meal and just cut out or substitute the meat. Try a vegetable curry or stew, a hearty salad or soup or even a vegetable lasagne. You can always add bulk and get in your protein with lentils, beans or chickpeas.
You know that Brand Match slip you always throw away? Using those when you shop can easily save you a couple of hundred rand over the course of a year. Plus, sign up for free rewards programmes like the Smart Shopper or Spar Rewards. Not only do you get instant discounts on your shopping, but you also slowly amass points and they can be redeemed for money off your shop. Think about saving these up for a big Christmas shop or other occasion which generally puts a dent in your budget. If they cost nothing to join, you’re certainly not losing anything.