Grocery shopping for budget-savvy shoppers

Grocery shopping can be one of the most significant expenses for households in New Zealand. With food prices on the rise, it’s never been more important to stick to a food budget. But we know that can be tricky, so we’re here to help make your money go further.

In this blog, we’ll look at some simple and effective ways to save money on grocery shopping in New Zealand. From making the most of your freezer to buying odd fruit and vegetables, we’ve put together tips and tricks to help you shop smart and waste less.

1. Make a budget and stick to it

The first step in saving money on grocery shopping is to set yourself a realistic grocery shopping budget, and then stick to it like glue. Next, plan ahead and decide what you’ll eat for the week and create a shopping list based on budget-friendly ingredients.

2. Cook meals from scratch

Pre-packaged and processed foods are often more expensive and they’re usually not as healthy as cooking meals from scratch. Try to make your meals from fresh, affordable ingredients and consider making larger batches that can be frozen and reheated later. The website by Jamie Oliver is very helpful. The recipes are affordable, tasty and relatively quick and easy.

3. Plan your meals

One of the biggest reasons people overspend on groceries is that they don’t plan their meals in advance. By planning meals carefully, you’ll avoid buying food that will go to waste. You can create a shopping list that only includes the ingredients you need or can use in time.

Always check the fridge and pantry before you go shopping. Not only will this stop you from doubling up on things, but you can plan meals by buying the additional ingredients that will go with what you already have. Don’t shop when you’re hungry and stick to the list. That will help you avoid impulse purchases or giving in to deals and discounts on items that you don’t actually need.

4. Avoid waste

One of the best and most planet-saving ways to save money on groceries is to avoid waste. The very handy website reported on the 2022 Kantar New Zealand Food Waste Survey. The study showed that every year over 100,000 tonnes of perfectly good food is wasted. The estimated value of food waste per New Zealand household is about $1,520.00 per year. Nationally this equates to $3.1 billion of food wasted food. Don’t just throw stuff out because it’s easy to do. Use leftovers to create new meals and freeze any excess for later. Your freezer is your friend. Commonly wasted foods like bread, fresh herbs, fruit and veggies can all be frozen. By avoiding waste, you can make your groceries go further and save the planet.

5. Shop for seasonal produce

Buying produce that is in season can be a lot cheaper than buying it out of season. Seasonal produce is often fresher and tastier, and it is a great way to keep your diet varied. It’s a win-win all around. Shopping for seasonal produce also supports local growers and reduces the environmental impact of importing products from other countries. Make a note of what produce is in season and plan your meals around these items.

6. Shop smart

Kilo for kilo, buying a whole chicken and chopping it into portions is much cheaper than buying chicken breasts. It also goes much further. Leftovers from a roast chicken can be used for a pasta bake, a risotto, a quiche or soup. Meat can be pricey, but you can choose cheaper cuts that will offer you better value for money. Opt for beef mince for example. It’s versatile

and can be used in a range of dishes, including spaghetti Bolognese, cottage pie, and tacos. Look for deals on larger packs of mince, and freeze it in portions for later use. Pork shoulder is a budget-friendly cut of meat that’s perfect for slow cooking. Cook up a pork roast or use it in dishes such as pulled pork, Asian-inspired noodles dished or nachos. Look for deals on larger cuts and freeze what you don’t use. Overall, when it comes to saving money on meat, it’s important to look for deals, buy in bulk, and choose more affordable cuts of meat.

7. Chill out

Frozen vegetables are a great way to save money and reduce waste. Because the vegetables and fruit are picked and frozen in season and at their best, they are packed with nutrients. Also, you can easily portion out what you want whenever you want it, without having to worry about food going off.

8. Go with the odd fellows

Misshapen fruit and vegetables are often sold at discounted prices. Whether it’s a crooked carrot, a knobbly potato or an elongated eggplant, they are just as delicious and nutritious as the more ‘normal’ shaped ones.

9. Use loyalty cards and reward programs

Most supermarkets in New Zealand offer loyalty cards and reward programs that allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for discounts or free products. Make sure you sign up for loyalty cards at the supermarkets you frequent and use them every time you shop to maximise your savings.

10. Buy generic or store-brand products

Generic brands, such as Pam’s and HomeBrand, are often cheaper than their fancier counterparts and can be just as good in terms of quality. They look plain with their minimal branding but usually provide excellent value for money.

11. Use the web

You can join Facebook groups such as budgeting, saving, frugal ways, grocery hauls and homemaking, to find a whole host of discount recipes and savings ideas.

12. Compare prices and shop around

Find the best deals on groceries, particularly the items you regularly buy. Take some time to research the prices of the items on your shopping list and compare them across different supermarkets to see where you can get the best value for money.

13. Shop online

Doing your shopping online can save you money and stress in so many ways. Yes, you have to pay a little for someone to pack up all the items for you, but that’s a small price to pay for not being beaten by those crafty supermarket tricks that make you spend more. Nor will you have to endure embarrassing tantrums in the checkout aisle just because you won’t buy treats. But probably the main way you’ll save when shopping online is because the total cost tallies as you shop. You can see how much you’re spending. So, no more guesswork and no more excuses for going over your weekly food budget. And if you do, it’s easy to delete a couple of items at the end.

Saving money on grocery shopping in New Zealand is all about planning, comparison, and sticking to a budget. By following these tips, you can make sure you’re not overspending on groceries and keep your expenses better under control.