We all know what you buy has a major influence on your household budget, but according to the annual supermarket price survey released by Consumer, where you buy makes a big difference to your food bill.
The survey confirms what many shoppers know, that Pak'n Save is the cheapest place to buy groceries. This probably explains why it always seems to be so busy.
But it also appears that Countdown is closing in on its lowest prices status by offering significant specials.
According to Consumer, "Our shoppers bought from a list of 40 top-selling supermarket products. As well as food and drink, personal care and cleaning items were also on our list. The survey didn't include fresh meat, fish or produce because for a fair comparison we'd need to consider quality.
"Wine and beer are also excluded - the discounts are so huge that a supermarket with a listed wine on special would have a massive price advantage. Our shoppers took advantage of multi-buys (we calculated a unit price) and coupon and Onecard specials."
The survey was carried out in seven centres: north and southeast Auckland, Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Pak'n Save was the cheapest supermarket in six of the seven centres. Countdown accounted for the one region. To give you an idea of what the savings can mean in dollar terms, the 40 items would cost $153 if bought at New World in Albany, but $21 (14 per cent) less if bought at Pak'n Save.
Oily raggers have lots of shopping tips that they have shared.
Filling the pantry with bargain buys cherry-picked from a number of supermarket chains is still the best way to minimise your grocery bill. Cook whatever is in your pantry, so you know you are getting meals at the very best value.
Don't shop when you are hungry. Those rotisserie chickens are just too tempting, and the cream doughnuts ... oh, they are irresistible.
Pay cash ... not plastic, to pay for the groceries. That way you will not only see the money going out of your bank account you will feel it slipping through your clutches like goo. Have only $100 notes in your purse. Most oily raggers will die before breaking a $100 note, those green $20 ones are less traumatic to part with.
Think of your grocery bill in terms of hours of work. If your after-tax pay is say $20 an hour (in the hand) then a $160 grocery shop is eight hours of torturous labour.
If you do buy fruit and vegetables (and why would you, when you can grow your own) then buy only those in season.
Allow plenty of time to compare prices and find specials. Take a calculator to work out complex calculations.
Avoid highly processed food - such as microwave meals as you are paying for the preparation.
Shop at supermarkets near closing time to pick up last-minute bargains of perishable items.
Do you have a favourite shopping tip? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei, so we can share it with others.
Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Submit your oily rag tips at www.oilyrag.co.nz