Supermarkets are one of the most boring things with a “Super-“ prefix, along with “superannuation” and ‘Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’. But it’s a necessary evil: we all gotta cook and clean, and supermarkets sell lots of things that we can use to cook and clean. The math checks out.

But supermarkets are also big danger zones for you and your wallet. If you found Todd Sampson to be too dreamy for you to ever truly pay attention to ‘Gruen’, here’s a quick primer on one of their biggest lessons: supermarkets use all types of tricks to make you compulsively buy. It’s why milk, the staple of every household, is at the back of the damn place. 

Thankfully, there’s a few ways to get around their dirty tactics, and save real cash on your weekly shop. So pull up your rickety trolley and listen up, kids.


DON’T SHOP HUNGRY

Are you starving? Don’t do your grocery shopping. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted by everything in the shop. Nek minnit, you’ll have five frozen meals, a whole roast chicken, three packs of Tim Tams and some strange international candy that probably tastes like fish in your trolley. In the end, you’ll be left with nothing but an overabundance of junk and a lack of funds to show for it. 

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Eat something, anything, before you go in. Fill ya goddamn belly. 


KNOW WHEN MARKDOWNS HAPPEN

First pro-tip: towards the end of the trading day, the stockfill kids will go to the aisles with perishable products (e.g. meat, dairy, the bakery) and start marking down. This is when you swoop in. You can get products at up to half the retail price by just waiting for the right time. 

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Second tip: supermarket specials usually run from Wednesday to Tuesday. If you want to grab something on the cheap and it isn’t on special, it’s sometimes worth waiting it out until the next Wednesday to see if it is.

PLAN YOUR MEALS

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Some shopping essentials will always be on your shopping list; eggs, milk, bread, etc. But knowing what you are going to eat, when, and what ingredients you need can save you a lot of umm-ing and ahh-ing when you’re at the shops. That way, you can get your Gordon Ramsay on and not be tempted by the All-New Super Burrito Pack that’s staring you down in aisle six.

KEEP A RUNNING REPLACEMENT LIST

You know how whenever you go to the shops, you always forget that one thing that just ran out, and now you have to use paper towels as serviettes like a pleb? This is how you avoid that. 

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Stick a piece of paper on your fridge, near your mirror, or anywhere else that’s easily accessible. When a household necessity starts getting low, write in on the list. That way, you already have half your shopping list done when you’re preparing to face the fluorescent lights of your local.

WHEN YOU CAN, BUY NON-BRAND STUFF

Non-brand, home brand, private label, whatever you call it, it gets a bad rap for being just not quite the same. The trick here is to do some experimenting. Sometimes, you might find that the products on offer are more to your liking than the brand stuff. 

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

In addition, a friend of mine who’s a professional chef (which is usually a sign that they know a bit about food) tells me that a quick way to reduce your costs is to go non-brand for base ingredients like sugar, flour and oil, because – as he puts it – “most people can’t tell the difference once it’s cooked”.

HAVE A SHOPPING LIST AND STICK TO IT

The best way to fight back against any supermarket tricks is to have a shopping list and to stick to it. The second you feel compelled by a huge special on something you might not need, you can easily remind yourself of why you are actually there. Smart shopper one, Supermarket zero.

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

 

KNOW WHEN FRESH PRODUCE IS IN SEASON

Fresh fruits and veges are great. But you know what’s better? Fresh fruits and veges that are in season. 

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

They’re usually cheaper, grown locally, more nutritious, and better for the environment (as they don’t have to travel as far to get to you). This means that if it’s the middle of winter, it may be best to just fight your mango cravings, unless you’re keen on paying through the nose.

AVOID THE SUPERMARKET’S SHELVING TRICKS

Supermarkets will arrange their products in weird and bizarre ways for one reason and one reason only: make you spend more. 

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Going to buy cheese? They’ll often put a brand of expensive crackers near that fridge. Getting snags for a barbie? Expect to see the most expensive sauce brands also staring you in the face. Even basics are arranged so that expensive brand-names are at eye-level, while you have to reach down to get the cheap stuff. 

The key here is to actually spend more time perusing the store and doing your research. They’re counting on you not being bright enough to know that the cheap stuff is just a little bit out of reach. Don’t give ’em the pleasure.

WHERE POSSIBLE, BUY IN BULK

If there’s a meal that you constantly make and some of the ingredients are on sale, stock the hell up on that. Same goes with household basics that go on sale. 

This is also where having a friend or family member with a Costco membership comes in handy. Those places are utterly insane at the best of times. But if you’re ever in the market for 15 litres of fabric softener at a fraction of a supermarket price, they’re your go-to guys.

PLAN FOR EMERGENCIES

No, we don’t mean “stock up on canned goods for the oncoming apocalypse”. Although if you want to do that, go for your life.

What we do mean, is that sometimes you just wont be able to cook for a variety of reasons: illness, suddenly busy, general malaise at your existence. We’ve been there, we know.

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

In which case, having some staples that you can quickly prep up and eat without having to either return to the supermarket, order in, or spend 15 minutes doing your best Jamie Oliver impression is vital. As per buying in bulk, when you see stuff like frozen meals or instant cup noodles on special, stock up. If you can, plan you meals to be a bit bigger so you can freeze a portion for later.

Now that you’re ready, let’s go shopping.

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

Photo: Justin Timberlake.

10 Ways To Save Precious Dosh On Your Weekly Grocery Shop