At ezDebt we’re always encouraging South Africans to take control of their finances, to spend responsibly and live within their means. We know this isn’t always possible but it is important to get into habits that will set you up for future financial success.

While there are always ways to save there is of course expenses you simply cannot live without, one of them being Food and grocery shopping.

Yes, we all groceries but they don’t have to cost a pretty penny every time you need to stock up, there are ways to reduce your spending and wastage and ensure you have a little extra to put back into your savings each month.

If you feel you need help getting your grocery shopping in check, have a look at these 12 tips to get you back on the right track.

1. Set your budget

Indicate the exact amount that you can spend on groceries for each month. Look at your current monthly spending and try to reduce from there. For example, if you’re spending R5000 per month on groceries, aim for R4000 and try to work your spending needs accordingly.  

Also remember, every odd month you may have a few extra groceries like cleaning products that need replacing. So don’t forget and prepare for those times.

2. Physically limit yourself

If you tend to exceed your grocery budget, only take the specific cash amount needed with you. Leave your credit or debit cards at home, especially if you’re doing the weekly shopping.

As for your monthly grocery shopping try to avoid buying what you want and focus what you REALLY need.

If you do not like walking around with cash, another option would be to reduce your credit card limit and use only what is available for your grocery shopping.

3. Create a shopping list

So you’ve taken the first two important steps which were planning and allocating your resources now its time to take the first actionable step.

There is no right or wrong way to create a shopping list but I’ve found the best way to do this to break them down by category

  • Food
  • Household
  • Toiletries
  • Luxuries

Once you’ve broken down your categories allocate a % of your budget to each category and begin listing items under each category. Once you’re done listing the items tally up the pricing along with and see if you’re within budget or where you may need to reduce.

Without a shopping list, you are basically wasting the effort you put in during the previous two-step.

4. Planning use of your groceries

Plan your meals two to four weeks in advance and have a lookout for deals (like “buy two for the price of one”), clearance items and other specials on items you need.

By planning (like keeping track of your freezer and pantry items) you can avoid those extra trips to the store as well.

5. Go shopping alone

For your budget and sanities sake don’t let the kids join you on your shopping trips. They will not only influence the number of items you buy in the end by nagging but keeping you in the shop longer always tends to lead to more purchases. Try to make your shopping as quick and painless as possible and stick to what is especially on your shopping list.

6. Buy & cook in bulk

You can save when buying in bulk – just make sure it really is a good price. And cooking in big batches can also add a few meals to the freezer for the rest of the months’ dinners.

7. Take advantage of alternatives

Don’t be fooled by brand names, private label branding or generic brands can save you plenty in the long run especially if its something you purchase regularly. The so-called “No Name” brands of beans or tomato and onion cans can definitely keep the grocery bill in line with your budget.

8. ‘Stretch’ your meat

Think about a Meat-free Monday principle – allowing you to have enough meat for the rest of the month. Having a few vegan days can really help you stretch your rations, reduce your waistline and give you an extra variety in your meal planning.

Also think about dishes like stews where you can buy your meat in bulk and where you won’t need to buy a thick, expensive piece of meat for every person, for example.

9. The little things do go a long way

Remember to take your shopping bags with you, be sustainable. Purchasing bags here and there do add up, in the end, it will save you in the long run as well as do your bit for the environment.

10. Eat before you go shopping

Nothing can compete with a nice home-cooked meal. Keep take-out and junk food dinners to the absolute minimum per month. This can save you a few hundred rand extra. Potgieter takes it a step further and says: “Take-out is considered a luxury and should in actual fact not be part of your grocery or food expenditure budget.”

Don’t let groceries blow the wind out of your finances, there are ways to get yourself to stick to your budget. Understandably, your ‘grocery behaviour’ will not change overnight but do take the above tips from Potgieter into account. Remember: take baby steps and be realistic.

11. Shop online

Online retailers are always looking to remain competitive and you can pick up certain items for a steal and save on a trip to the store too. Online shopping also gives you a chance to prepare your shopping list by checking pricing and improve your saving strategy.

12. Look for coupons, vouchers & discounts

During the week or the day before your grocery run, check the local newspapers, run a few google searches and see if there are any coupons, vouchers or discounts currently in circulation for items that match your grocery list.

Also don’t be afraid to take advantage of loyalty programs at stores you shop at regularly or with your banks like eBucks or Account.

Stick to your strategy

There you have it, our 12 Ezdebt tips to save on your monthly or weekly grocery shopping. If you have any more tips you think should be added to this list, please feel free to comment below.

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Manage your debt effectively

If you still need help with your savings and you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current financial situation, feel free to contact us. To Speak to one our consultants about debt review contact us here.