One of the least appealing secondary side-effects of COVID is increasing supermarket prices.
While price rises are out of our control, there are some simple tweaks to everyday shopping habits that could bring rewards at the check-out.
Shoppers should always start with a plan. Rough out a meal plan for the week and stick to it.
Impulse buys are the natural enemy of a budget, so use some discipline with a shopping list and stick to it.
And next time you are in the supermarket, try these tweaks for cheaper alternatives.
Make ‘seconds’ your first choice. All the bigger supermarkets now have fruit and vegetables that didn’t make the first division. And when it’s all cut up, made into a cocktail or cooked for half an hour, can anyone tell the difference? Add the feel-good factor that you have reduced food waste, and everyone is a winner.
Make it from scratch. There are many ready-made products that can be made for cents in the dollar at home. Salad dressing can be made from vinegar and oil and a few flavourings, focaccia can be made for under a $1, hummus is just a can of mushed up chickpeas, garlic, oil and tahini. You can get litres of chicken stock from one roast chicken carcass.
Say no to packaging. Those bundles of prepackaged or pre-cut fruit and vegies are convenient but can come in at up to five times the price of loose vegetables. Closely compare the dollars per kilo prices before taking the plunge.
Choose a house brand. House brands have come a long way since they were introduced in the 1980s. Everyone probably has a scarring memory of chalk-like toothpaste or flavourless cheese, but supermarkets have spent a great deal of time improving their home-brand game and if you haven’t tried them for a while, you might be surprised.
Fresh is not always best. Consumer advocacy group CHOICE recommends using frozen out-of-season fruit instead of fresh. For example, raspberries have a very small window for freshness, and at all other times it’s probably cheaper to buy them frozen.
Can you grow it? The recipe says a tablespoon of chopped parsley, but you have to buy a whole bunch. The good thing about most herbs is that they take no more horticultural skill than growing weeds and can be grown in pots. There is also a great deal of satisfaction to be had in stepping out the door and snipping some of your own herbs.
CHOICE also recommends ‘swapping your supermarket’.
In the group’s 2021 supermarket comparison survey, Aldi came in at the cheapest with the research showing savings of up to 54 per cent on a shopping basket of 29 regular household items.
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