subscribe to our newsletter sign up

How to save money on groceries

Save money on groceries, money, coins, dollars

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that, in 2016, single Australians who lived alone spent an average of $122 per week on food and drinks and families with children between five to 14 spent $336 per week. The values may be correct for some, but many people tend to spend more than the average.

It’s easy for a person to go overboard—way above the 2016 average—and rack up hundreds of dollars when grocery shopping. But there are some easy ways to lower their spending.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Do a kitchen stock inventory
  • Draw up a list, compare items and pay with cash
  • Learn ingredient substitutes
  • Plan meals around discounted or cheap items

Do a kitchen stock inventory

Performing a kitchen stock inventory would reveal what a household already has in stock and eliminate them from the grocery shopping list.


Throw away expired food items and segregate those that are close to their expiration dates to avoid wasting them. If these items cannot be used up before the expiration date, they may also be donated to shelters.

Doing this not only frees up space in the pantry, it would also help create a list of items they actually need to buy for a specific grocery trip. Stock items may also be used by creating a meal plan around them before they expire—the state government of Victoria has several meal ideas in their Love Food Hate Waste campaign website.

Draw up a list, compare items and pay with cash

Make sure to list down all the items that can still be used and plan a menu around those. List down only the items that are needed for a particular grocery run and avoid buying items that are not listed down and buy only the items that will be used right away.

Once at the grocery, it’s a good practice to compare products and prices instead of simply choosing the popular brands. In most cases, the quality of store brand items or generics can compete with popular brands, but they are usually sold cheaper.

It’s better to pay in cash unless a person owns a credit card that provides a rebate or supermarket rewards program. If a credit card is used, make sure to set aside the amount in cash and pay the bill on time.

Paying with cash also gives a better idea of how much a person actually spends on the groceries.

Learn ingredient substitutes

A person can also get creative with their meals and save money simply by learning acceptable ingredient substitutes. Using substitutes instead of buying new items does not only increase a person’s creativity but also helps decrease the stocked items with limited shelf life.

For instance, combining margarine, vegetable shortening and oil creates a substitute for butter and a combination of lemon juice and milk may be used in lieu of buttermilk.

Plan meals around discounted or cheap items

It’s normal for supermarkets to hold a sale, providing good opportunities to take advantage of saving money. Even when the markets aren’t holding a sale, most stores have bins or tables where products have discounted prices.

However, shoppers must remain mindful of their purchases and ensure that the items in discount bins are in good condition. In many cases, discount bins contain products that are close to their expiration date.

Some shops sell their remaining stock of items near closing time at a discount, so it’s a great way to save money.

Another place where shoppers can purchase cheaper food items are farmers markets. Items may be sold at prices lower than what supermarkets offer because buyers are buying directly from the source.

There are also reject piles in farmer markets which shoppers can purchase from. Note, however, that reject piles of farmers markets differ from supermarkets. This is because a farm’s reject pile usually consist of misshapen or uneven colored fruits and vegetables—at least compared to the ones in supermarkets.

Physical appearance does not necessarily dictate quality—but it can somehow influence the selling price.

This information has been sourced from the ASIC’s Moneysmart, Love Food Hate Waste and Nest Egg.

How to save money on groceries
Save money on groceries, money, coins, dollars
nestegg logo
subscribe to our newsletter sign up
Recommended by Spike Native Network
Neil - I retired about a year ago and now I've got less income than I planned for. Can I sue my financial planner?....
Joe - Agree with Terry Dwyer. The really nasty part is the way it will hit self funded retirees (through their SMSF in many cases) who have direct shares.......
John - Not sure loss of 30% of income is something I just let go. Options I will be doing is investing overseas, local and international REITs and seeing if.......
Dr Terry Dwyer, Dwye... - I am amazed by these comments. The effects will be subtle but pervasive. It will have a huge effect on superannuitants in pension mode as with low.......