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  • Thames Budget Service

10 Top Tips to Save Money at the Supermarket

Woman at the supermarket looking worried at prices on shelf
How to save at the supermarket

Check out specials online or in person. If you have more than one supermarket by you, buy the cheaper things on special from each one. If practical, pop into the fruit and vege shop to see what their specials are and price compare when you do the supermarket shop. Buy the cheaper items per kilogram at the supermarket and pop back to the fruit and vege shop on the way home for their cheaper items per kilogram. Get to know what "normal" prices are, so you know a "special" really is a genuinely lowered price. Often the tag says "lowest price" but it can be the normal price, or worse still a higher price! Find out when the supermarket marks things down that are about to expire soon such as bread and meat. LOCAL PRO TIP! Thames Pak and Save marks bread and meat down in the mornings. So be there at opening time to pick up the SUPER specials. Note that for meat especially you will need to use it that day, or freeze it. Bread, rolls, pizza bread etc can all be frozen as well. Buy budget / in-house brands such as Value and Pams. Try them out, they are much cheaper. If you really just can't stand Pams tea or Budget spaghetti, go up a brand, but many everyday items are perfectly fine in the house brand version. Use food up, don't waste it so you don't have to replace things as often. See Love Food Hate Waste for lots of ways to use up ends of food, budget friendly recipes and ways to store your kai (food) so it lasts longer. Keep a list on the fridge and shop with it, so you know if you really do need an item or not. Shop and eat seasonally. Get to know when the fruit and vegetable seasons are in New Zealand and buy fruit and veges when they are in season and cheap. Plan your meals around the veges and meat on special. See this link for what fruit and veges are in season for each month Better still be open to receiving free kai from people with too much fruit/tomatoes etc etc, or swap a skill (like mowing a lawn or walking their dog) for some fruit and veges from their garden. Or try to grow your own. Things like tomatoes and lettuces are easy to grow even in pots! Have kai before you go to the supermarket so you're not shopping hungry, or you may tend to buy more food. Avoid taking the kids / (or adult partner ?!) if possible, if they tend to ask for treats that are not needed...! Explore recipes for cheaper/healthier/less processed food alternatives i.e. "icecream" made from ripe frozen bananas is better than any icecream, and no added sugar etc. Just whizz it to a creamy consistency in the blender - devine taste, cheaper and healthier! Some foods give more bang for their buck - like rolled or whole oats for porridge in winter. At about $3 - 4 a bag they can be used to also bulk out rissoles, add to smoothies, add to yoghurt and fruit, add to stews/meatloaf. Look up and down the shelf for an item. Big brands pay the supermarkets to have their product placed at eye level, and on the end of aisles in the most visible position. The cheaper versions are often down low, in a less visible area. Work out the best deal on a cost per kilo/per gram basis. The bigger bag or tin is not always cheaper than the smaller one, although it often is. Pak and Save usually list the cost per gram on their labels so you can easily compare. For perishables, like flour/rice, you will need to know you get through the larger bag in time, or it's false economy if part of the bag goes to waste. Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. Explore options for cheaper vegetarian versions like Lentil Bolognaise made from very inexpensive dried lentils. Find recipe books for free in the library. Or online look at websites like Love Food Hate Waste The Heart Foundation Affordable Eats Healthy Kids NZ etc You can cook kai at home a lot cheaper than most takeways. For example; considering the relatively cheap price of chicken, especially when it's on special, you can make 4 or 5 healthier chicken meals for what one meal could cost from a chicken fast food joint. Make it a fun mission to save money at the supermarket, fruit and vege shop etc and get more food for your money. Every week you'll get more clever and save more money!


Translation: Kai (Te Reo Maori) = Food (English) Photo: By Viki Mohamad on Unsplash


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