Easy ways to save on your food shop as inflation soars

man looking at jar of pasta sauce while pushing trolley in supermarket aisle

Consumers are being warned to brace for the highest grocery price increases in more than 10 years as suppliers seek to recoup higher costs for commodities, packaging and freight.

Major suppliers have flagged price increases as well as fewer promotions, less discounting and a step-up in ‘shrinkflation’ in the coming months.

Danone, for example, expects input costs to rise 8 to 9 per cent in the December half, General Mills expects costs to rise 7 per cent in 2022 and Unilever is preparing for inflation to be in the high teens.

After resisting requests for price rises for years, Coles and Woolworths have recently indicated they are likely to pass higher prices on to consumers rather than rejecting or absorbing them.

If you’re feeling the pinch from this jump in inflation – or maybe you want to protect yourself from potential increases as we race towards Christmas – one of the easiest ways to watch your spending is to re-evaluate your grocery shop.

If you want to slim down your weekly food bill, there are some simple steps you can take.

1. Meal plan
It might not be the most glamorous or exciting thing you can do, but you’d be surprised how far a bit of meal planning can go. Instead of deciding what to eat on the day, spend a bit of time mapping out the week – that way, you avoid unnecessary trips to the shop and can maximise your ingredients – doubling up in different meals, making sure everything is used up.

If you write a shopping list with everything you need for the week, you’re less likely to make impulsive – and potentially costly – decisions in the supermarket.

When you’ve got a plan, you’re a lot less likely to spend money on convenient takeaway meals during the week too.

Read: Batch cooking is your secret weapon

2. Get into batch cooking
It’s often seen as the ultimate mark of someone who’s got their life together, but once you get into the swing of things, batch cooking really isn’t that hard. Making bigger portions of one meal and boxing up and freezing the leftovers will not only save you time, but also means you can use up all the ingredients you buy and waste nothing.

3. Buy seasonal produce
Out of season produce must be imported, which pushes up the cost.

A lot of the recipes in free supermarket magazines are seasonal, so you know that with the meals you plan, there’s a good chance everything will be available at the supermarket.

4. Use tins or frozen food where possible
If you’re constantly throwing away fresh food that’s gone off, it could be worth looking more into tinned or frozen alternatives. This doesn’t mean you have to cook sad meals – plenty of tasty stews, bakes and pasta dishes can be made from cans and things from the freezer. Plus, frozen food will likely taste fresher than the old veg lying in the back of your fridge.

5. Look for discounts
It’s all about training your eye for those yellow stickers and holding onto coupons – you never know when they might come in handy.

6. Go for own brands
It’s easy to get carried away by the allure of fancy branding, but they tend to cost more than own brands – and you might find there’s really not much difference between the products.

Read: 10 products you should always buy house brand

7. Bulk buy items when they’re on sale
At most of the big supermarkets, the specials start on Wednesday and run the full week until the following Tuesday. Most of the time you can find household items on sale that you need on a regular basis, such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, household cleaners, shampoo and conditioner, and more. If one of your regular staples comes up for half price, and you have the storage space, bulk-buy it.

8. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
It’s a recipe for disaster – trust us. No-one ever makes sensible shopping decisions on an empty stomach.

9. BOGOF wisely
Deals such as BOGOF – Buy One Get One Free – can often be a bit of a trap, ultimately making us spend more on things we don’t truly want or need, because we think it’s a good offer. A lot of this stuff ends up being wasted. If you do want to make the most of these savings, make sure you’re buying something you will definitely actually use – and even better, if it’s for something that won’t go off, such as toilet roll or tinned goods.

10. Check the unit price
Even if something appears to be cheaper or on sale, check the unit price and the quantity/volume you actually get for that price. But avoid buying a bigger pack of something just because it’s cheaper if you know it’s likely to go to waste.

Read: Supermarket strategies that get you spending

11. Store food properly
If you’re always throwing away food that’s gone bad, it’s probably worth looking at how you’re storing everything. Are your potatoes in a dark place? Are your bananas separate from all the other fruit? You also might like to maximise your freezer use – it’s a great place to store bread and uncooked meat.

12. Organise your fridge
Equally, your fridge should be clearly organised – otherwise salad will languish at the back until it’s inedible. You’d be surprised how much money you can save just by not having to constantly replace food that’s gone off.

Have you noticed an increase in the amount you’re spending on groceries? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

– With PA

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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