Seven simple ways to slash your grocery bills

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Groceries are one of the biggest expenses for everyone, but for age pensioners who, after paying utilities, health costs and some even rent, there may be little left in the budget for food. Here are seven simple ways to slash your grocery bill.

1. Shop at ‘ethnic’ supermarkets
You may walk past Asian supermarkets, or Mexican food marts or other ‘ethnic’ outlets and not pay them much mind. Well paying them more mind will save you money, so stop walking past them!

Dried beans and legumes, nuts, noodles, rice and other staple foods are aplenty in these foreign treasure troves. Why pay for a ‘western’ branded version when you can go straight to the source and pay half the cost?

Seriously, you’ll save a bundle shopping at these types of places. And if you can’t understand a label, or don’t know how to cook a certain type of foreign food, just ask the shop owners.

It’s also a great experience stepping inside ethnic shops, almost like going on a 30-minute holiday to a foreign country. So, go on, give it a go!

2. Damaged goods supermarkets
Most states have a damaged goods supermarket chain, such as Not Quite Right, Rite Price or Discount Grocery Outlet, that sells products in damaged packages or are discontinued lines.

And they sell these goods at half price or much less.

Often, the packages aren’t even that damaged. This is because it’s cheaper for a big chain supermarket to offload a dropped pallet full of baked beans than it is to sort through and separate the damaged cans from the undamaged ones.

Just steer clear of cans that are badly dented, swollen, leaking, rusted or punctured and you should be fine. If a can has a dent deeper than your finger, leave it on the shelf.

You’ll also find products that are called ‘orphans’ – ones that just didn’t sell very well in bigger stores. There are some weird flavour combinations and strange concoctions, too. So have fun looking through apple and peppermint deodorants or purple pepper berry toothpaste.

Hey, you don’t eat toothpaste. If it’s cheap and it does the job, well …

3. $2 shopping
Drop into your local Reject Shop and check out the products they have for sale. Sometimes you can pick up canned goods, confectionary, chips, nuts and other goodies for an absolute steal. These $2 shops also sell toiletries (hint: toilet paper is super cheap), beauty products, clothing and condiments, and are well worth a visit to pick up some inexpensive ‘bits’.

4. Almost goner fruit and veg
Many supermarkets will have a section in the fresh food area that sells ‘damaged’ fruit and vegetables for a lot less than the more presentable produce.

Sometimes they’ll package up some good with some bad, but mostly it’s things such as bruised bananas or slightly squishy tomatoes that are bargain buys. Some will be close to use-by, so make sure you can eat what you purchase, or better still, buy up big and freeze.

5. Close to use-by date
Instead of doing one big shop to last you a week or two, you could try doing smaller, more regular shops. This way you can take advantage of goods close to their expiry date. Supermarkets always offer dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and cream for a fraction of the cost when they are close to use-by. Also, if you know the difference between use-by and best before, you can clean up in the dairy aisle (and others). Oh, and you can always freeze milk, so if it’s 75 per cent off, why not grab the extra bottle and freeze it?

Same goes with meat. Usually Sunday afternoons are a good time (your local may be different) to check the meat fridges for cuts that are close to expiry. I do this once a month, then freeze it. I save a fortune on scotch fillets, sausages, roasts and steaks. I rarely pay full price for meat any more.

You can either freeze meat or dice up a batch and cook it up in a stew or casserole, then freeze portions for later use.

6. Day-old baked goods
Check out your supermarket bakery, too. You’ll find bread loaves baked the day before for up to 25 per cent of the price of freshly baked bread. Snap them up and use what you can, or freeze slices for later in the month. Same goes for cakes, doughnuts, biscuits and other baked goods. One day old means one great bargain!

7. Do your shopping online
Believe it or not, but paying a delivery fee may work out saving you more money than if you shop in store. More often than not (unless you’re really disciplined) you’ll go to the supermarket and buy more food than you need (or what’s on your list). Shopping online means you’ll be more likely to stick to your list and save you money because you won’t see all the instore specials tempting you to buy what you don’t need.

And some stores won’t even charge you a delivery fee, or will reward loyalty with free shipping, so, bonus!

Do you have any tips for cutting grocery costs? Why not share them with our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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18 Comments

Total Comments: 18
  1. 0
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    Great! Let’s fill up our baskets with bruised and damaged fruit, nuts and whatever from the cheap shops (they get them when they are near or at their sell buy date I bet) thin toilet paper, and go round reeking of some horrible synthetically scented deodorant which will probably also stain our clothes. It’s just wonderful to be old and poor.

    You know most of us have had families and had to work with limited budgets all our lives and we are already doing our best to make our dollars stretch.

  2. 0
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    Sorry I would never shop at an Asian supermarket.. have you seen the filthy conditions in which, for instance, they breed fish? Take Vietnam — the Mekong river is also used as a sewerage system — any wonder the Vietnamese ( vanami) prawns are cheap?? yukko. Having seen that would you trust them to use “clean” farming for any other products … Not for me thanks

    • 0
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      I suggest you check out info about Tassal salmon farming in Tasmania and many other factory farming techniques in Australia before turning your nose up at other countries’ practices.

  3. 0
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    You forget one of the best! Eat in season and buy local! Fruit and veg will be cheaper and more nutritious.

    • 0
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      No cheap shopping for me. Always shop at Coles every week. Age pensioner but don’t have to worry too much about the cost plenty in the savings account. Just spent over $200 at target result Flybuy Dollars doesn’t take too long to get the dollars up again. thanks Coles

    • 0
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      Local markets are good and cheap for in season veggies but stay away from over priced so called “organic” places it’s just a con.

  4. 0
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    You don’t need to pay a delivery fee. You can choose a wide time delivery or pay by the credit card of the business you are shopping with. I save heaps buying my groceries online. You stock up on the half price specials and do not wait to buy things as you need them. There is no need to choose damaged food either. You can take more time when shopping online and revisit your purchases to change up until the evening before delivery. I calculate I save between $30 to $50 a week shopping this way. Not visiting the shop there is no temptation to buy things that are not a good buy and what you do not need anyway. You are shown the savings clearly and you can continue to alter and balance your order.

  5. 0
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    All the important stuff seems to be missed here. Here’s a couple. Write a shopping list , stops impulse buying and buying stuff you don’t need especially perishable goods which will go in the bin. Keep an eye on your bin , if you have trouble fitting it all in that’s money you are throwing away. Avoid processed goods it’s bad for you and overpriced. A lot of food you buy in a bottle such as salad dressing can be made at home is much cheaper and tastes
    better. Keep leftovers in the freezer for easy nights, take out is bad for your health and expensive and you can be eating it before you drive to KFC And stand in line.

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      A couple of others, veggie gardens chooks and fruit trees are good if you have the room and it gets you outside and enjoying the sunshine. The chair the TV and the computer can kill you slowly.

    • 0
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      Very good reminders, Tib. I also suggest cutting out or at least significantly cutting down on meat, dairy and eggs. You’ll feel much better and save a lot of money. Using old fashioned natural cleaning tips also saves money.

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      Good point about the cleaning produces , I do that as well. While I still eat meat I probably only eat about 1/3 of what I once did and very little beef. I eat plenty of eggs though , I have the chooks.

    • 0
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      Good thought, Tib, I don’t have chooks but do grow veg and fruit. I’m vegetarian so don’t eat meat or fish at all.
      Even for people without a garden herbs are good to grow in pots on a windowsill or balcony, the amount of vitamins and nutrients in most of them are well worth the time spent cultivating them.

    • 0
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      I’m about to start growing herbs. I like to cook Italian. Some of the red meat dishes I do eat go with pasta.

  6. 0
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    i get the weekly catalogues from major supermarkets i.e. coles,woolies,iga and superbarn.i only look for half price specials and must be something i always use otherwise it’s not a bargain.

  7. 0
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    Just scored a great special. Hubby was in store at local Woolworths and got $11 salmon trays for $2 as near use by dates so bought 4 and will freeze 3 of them. He checked for freshness of course.
    Just a lucky grab!
    So far, my Coles online purchase from this week’s specials has netted over $50 in savings out of a $70 spend high would normally be $120. It is possible to therefore drastically cut your food bill just by the way you shop. I just keep building my order over several days.
    People who have no need to save just buy as they go what they need and desire. For the rest of us it is possible to save heaps.

  8. 0
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    I find shopping in Coles at just after 9 in the morning can be useful as the meat dept will have had a look at the display and may have some very good mark downs. The other day I got a tray of Oyster blade steak which was very cheap, and if cooked properly I find as good or better than much more expensive fillet. I had 4 evening meals from the one tray of meat for about $7 the tray.

  9. 0
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    Another one: Shop at Aldi.


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