10 ways to save on groceries

By Amy Hickland


Noodles for dinner again? Whether you're a student, a solo parent or supporting a family, the price of food is rising - and fast.

Free Budget Advisory Service manager Grant Howard has had to give up his scotch-fillet steak in his weekly shop, but said with the right guidance everybody can eat properly.

"I managed ... but I had to make sacrifices," he says.

The service sees about 150 clients each week, and grocery shopping is still one of the biggest obstacles in a stable budget. "That's the hardest for us to budget - is what they do with their food money," says Mr Howard. "You can't take everybody food shopping."

Home Budget Service manager Todd Button also has a few ideas on ways to save on groceries.

The budget advisers offer their tips on how to make the most out of the weekly grocery shop, and shed some light on a few common myths.

 

1. MAKE A PLAN

Planning your weekly meals means you can make a list, and stick to it. "Not just make a list, but plan," says Howard. "That makes your budget last for the whole week."

Button agrees, and says buying for seven days is the best thing a shopper can do.

2. LOOK FOR SPECIALS

Buying on special can save you cash - but it's only a saving if you were going to buy it anyway, and you don't have to travel to another store.

"To shop on special is not always the cheapest option," says Howard. Once you factor in petrol prices from store to store, things can work out more expensive. "But definitely buy the specials in the shop you're buying from."

3. BUY WHAT YOU NEED

Buying in bulk may seem like a good idea, but it can be a trap. Button says although shoppers may buy 20 cans of baked beans, to last them 20 weeks "the reality is, they eat them over 10". "Buying in bulk is a bit of a myth for the average household."

4. BAKE CAUTIOUSLY

For those who enjoy a home-baked cake, it may be surprising to find out that this may not be the cheaper option. Howard says with the price of ingredients - not to mention time - it can be cheaper just to buy a packet of biscuits. "Baking these days is very hard to measure whether you're saving money or not. It's always nicer, but the expense is fairly similar."

5. GROW YOUR OWN

Gardens are a cheap, fun way to grow your own food. Button says despite the set-up costs, it's a great way to save on vegetables. "It's fresh produce you don't have to spend any money on," he says. "Having your own vegetable garden is really good - I always agree with that," says Howard.

6. SHARE A MEAL

Howard says he often shares meals with friends and family, as it is a great way to cut costs and to socialise at the same time. "We just bring a plate and share meals."

7. AVOID GOURMET MARKETS

Despite the common misconception, buying fresh produce from a market can leave you out of pocket. "The farmers' market is dear because it's all gourmet," says Howard. He recommends buying vegetables from supermarkets.

8. BUY BUDGET - SOMETIMES

Chopping the brand name foods and buying a more budget brand will cut costs - but the shopper needs to weigh up whether it is worth it.

"You might pay a few cents more for things, but you actually enjoy them more," says Howard.

9. BUY MEAL DEALS

Meal deal packs - which generally include meat and vegetables - are sold at supermarkets at cheap prices.

Howard says some people can "make the one meal last four meals" if they really want, but are a good way to save money.

10. BUY THE BASICS

The ultimate advice Howard has is to buy just what you need.

He says alcohol and cigarettes are not necessities. "We all like to have a glass of wine or a beer with a meal, but if you can't afford it ... only buy what you need."

- Hamilton News

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