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10 supermarket hacks to save a fortune on your grocery shop

Nicole counts down 10 strategies that real-life Aussies use to slash their food bills.

Compilation image of Nicole in the kitchen and Coles supermarket
High supermarket costs is now one of Aussies' biggest money worries. (Source: Getty) (Samantha Menzies)

This is part two of a two-part series on how to cut back on your supermarket shop as grocery prices soar. Read part one here: 4 low-spend recipes for tougher financial times.

As the cost of living spikes and the cash rate continues to climb, it’s more important than ever for Aussies to find ways to cut back on their grocery bill. So I asked my social media community for their top supermarket tips for cutting back.

Here is a countdown of the top 10 strategies real-life Aussies use to slash their food bills.

10. Don’t fall for fake sales

Always check unit pricing on the price tag. A shouty fluorescent-coloured sign could be what my family calls a ‘fake sale’ if it’s cheaper – per 100g or relevant measure – to buy the bigger, undiscounted packet.

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Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

9. Adjust your usage

We have all been ‘cool’ on using air-conditioning due to electricity prices; you can also curb your consumption of groceries. I don’t mean that you should eat less but rather that you should ‘cost swap’ in the same way you would swap out an unhealthy item for a lower-calorie version.

You could simply swap for a cheaper alternative or for another item altogether - prepping your meal plan depending on what is on offer is a smart idea. There are a lot of ‘cost swap’ options which will help to curb your spend.

8. Do the value adding yourself

Similarly, tins of tomatoes are so cheap and you can puree them yourself for discount pasta sauce or passata.

Buy fancy hummus? A tin of chickpeas and a bit of garlic costs a fraction of store-bought dips. Once you get mulling, you will be able to come up with more hip-pocket hacks too… that don’t involve cutting back. And it doesn’t need to be too time consuming either.

7. Stop buying convenience cheese

Deserving a category all of its own because it’s such a staple for kids, are you still buying grated or sliced cheese? Have you compared the unit pricing against cheese blocks? You may be able to instead cut your cheese bill – significant for my family – by half.

6. Feed the kids crust toasties

My top tip – or should that be Tip Top tip – is that the skinny end bits of a loaf of square kids’ bread make great toasted sandwiches. Just slyly invert and place your filling on the crust side before toasting.

5. Shop late at night

You might not get the full selection of fruit and veg late at night but what is left will be heavily discounted for quick sale. All you then need to save is a bit of culinary creativity.

4. Take advantage of supermarket magazines

You know those free magazines at the supermarket? Make the recipes. They include super simple recipes using seasonal produce which will help you save. It’s more cost effective than making your old but favourite go-to meals, only to find you’ll have to pay $1,000 per kilo for (imported and old) asparagus to go in it.

3. Waste not want not

How much food do you put in the bin? The fact is, throwing away food is throwing away money and I’m guessing that fresh produce is the main thing you ditch. Plant herb cuttings to start a herb garden and/ or chop up and freeze the unused sprigs with a tiny bit of water in ice cube trays. ‘Soup’ up the rest.

Leftover dinners? Uneaten baking? Excess egg whites and egg yolks? Pretty much everything freezes (egg yolks, with a bit of sugar if destined for sweet things or salt if reserving for savoury).

And to further stop waste…

2. Never shop without a list (or when you’re hungry)

Shopping with a list forces you to stay single-mindedly focused on what you need and not just on the treats. As I said above, you might swap in and out the ingredients in your target meals, for what is most economical. I sure do for my family’s favourite recipes.

1. Buy in bulk

This is Aussies’ number one savings secret. As mentioned in number 10 above, the unit pricing on sales may show you what items are cheaper to go for quantity. But you can think even bigger too.

No, you don’t have to spend your life at Costco but if you can forego the supermarket altogether, you will save a small fortune. You could band together with neighbours or friends with deep-freezes (and shallow pockets) and shop at farm or produce collectives, to take this super large scale and next-level the savings. Look up the options in your area.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at www.nicolessmartmoney.com. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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