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expert advice: HOW TO MINIMISE YOUR GROCERY BILL

Nikki Yazxhi

SAVING MONEY ON GROCERIES CAN BE A METICULOUS TASK THAT REQUIRES A LOT OF PRE-PLANNING, MENTAL ENERGY, AND A DESIRE TO TRY NEW THINGS. While we can find ways to save on groceries by buying different brands, or simply making cheaper meals, sometimes we need to go back to basics and consider ways to simply buy fewer groceries. Financial advisor, Helen Baker gives us her 13-step guide on how to do a little less grocery shopping to help save money…


This is where a minimalist mindset can be of benefit to you. To live minimalist is to own less, make do with what you have, and, more importantly, buy less stuff (in this case, groceries). This guide will show you how to do a little less grocery shopping, become more mindful of what you spend on groceries, and re-evaluate how to simply get by with less when doing a grocery shop at your local supermarket.

Helen’s minimalist grocery shopping guide:

1. Buy your food unprepared. If something comes pre-made, prepared, sliced, diced, or cooked, it will cost you more. The more food you can purchase that is yet to be prepared, requiring you to do the work, the more money you will save. It also tends to be significantly healthier too.

2. Buy fresh fruit and veg in exact quantities. Try to become more minimalist by assessing the amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables that you need per week. Often, we simply grab a handful of fruit and veggies, but the trick to doing a little less shopping and saving money on your grocery bill is to calculate exact quantities ahead of time and not overbuy. We waste far too much food as it is.

3. Only buy bulk if you must. Buying in bulk traditionally can reduce your grocery costs. However, when trying to be minimalist, it ends up taking up more room and can lead to overbuying, thus overspending or what we like to call ‘spaving’ (spending to save money). Try only to buy bulk groceries when it suits you and makes perfect sense. Things like toilet paper and paper towels are good examples of this. Don’t naturally assume that buying in bulk will save money.

4. Every item you buy in your grocery shop should fit into a planned meal. This means that every item you purchase should be assigned to a specific meal, whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner: no snacks, treats, or cupboard fillers. Buy less by simply assigning every item to a known meal between now and your next grocery shop.

5. Use environmental bags to do your grocery shopping. Reducing your plastic reliance doesn’t necessarily save you money, but it does help the environment and reduce your waste. Plastic bags are polluting the oceans and harming marine species. Opt to buy reusable bags and always take them shopping with you. The added bonus is that the bags are more comfortable to carry and make shopping a little more organised.

6. Don’t buy items in the grocery store checkout aisle. Items in the checkout aisle – generally chocolate bars, drinks, or magazines – are there to make you spend money. Instead of looking at these items or contemplating them, use your time at the supermarket checkout to organise your groceries as you put them on the conveyer belt or self-serve check out (to make it easier when you unpack at home). Perhaps even prepare how you are going to pay for the items, the loyalty cards you may need to show to earn points, and whether you have any coupons ready to claim. Use the checkout aisle as the preparation time to complete a successful grocery shop.

7. Opt for items with less packaging. Try to avoid products that use excessive packaging. Often you are paying extra for your groceries that not only come pre-prepared but heavily wrapped or packaged. It is also bad for the environment and another way to avoid paying for convenience. The less packaging you acquire in your shopping trolley, the healthier and cheaper the groceries will be that you take home.

8. Stop buying bottled drinks. Beyond milk, how much money is wasted on bottled water, soft drinks, and juices? We are buying these things to quench our thirst yet have water flowing from taps 24/7. Avoid paying for anything other than milk. Save the money instead and remove a whole product class from your weekly grocery shop.

9. Do a stocktake of the cupboard before you shop for groceries. To buy less, you need to know exactly what you already have in your cupboard and assess what you need. When you do a grocery shop, you should be doing so on a ‘needs basis’ not a ‘wants basis.’ This means only buying groceries you actually need, not merely ‘want to try’ and ‘might use at some point’.

10. Clean your fridge weekly and know what you have inside. Similar to checking your cupboard, your fridge holds the answers to many money-saving questions. What items do you regularly not use and have to throw out? What do you already have? Check your fridge for these answers, and often, you will quickly find yourself buying less at the supermarket straight after.

11. Stop forgetting one ingredient. All too often, people forget one magic ingredient for a recipe or dish. Try and pre-plan your shopping to always avoid this, as the goal of saving money on groceries is to visit the supermarket less. The more you find yourself in the shops, the more money you are tempted to spend and consume.

12. Don’t be loyal to brands – try new items and specials. To indeed be minimalist, you need to be open to buying less or more of an item depending upon its value or price. If something is on special one week, switch to that brand and give it a go. The less loyal you are to a brand, the more money you save.

13. Opt to avoid a grocery shop altogether. For the truly frugal grocery shoppers, why not try and avoid a weekly grocery shop altogether? Many of us will have a freezer full of ingredients that may have been sitting there for months. Even challenge yourself to use all the items in your fridge or pantry before going to the shops. Your house will have less food and waste, and your weekly savings will increase.

It’s really that simple. To save money on groceries, either employ a range of sophisticated tactics to get cheaper items or simply buy less.

About Helen Baker Helen is a financial adviser, author, speaker and spokesperson for online finance information platform Money.com.au. Helen has a passion for empowering Aussies to find financial freedom through strategic planning and goals-based financial advice. She has worked as a qualified financial adviser since 2009 and was a finalist in both the Financial Planner/Advisor of the Year and Women’s Community Program of the Year categories in 2017 as well. For more information, visit Money.com.au.

{Photos: Vogue}