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How to Save Money on Groceries

How to Save Money on Groceries

18 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

With 4 kids here, (2 of those being Polynesian teenagers) and some of us being coeliac, the groceries can get out of control fast.

Grocery prices in recent years have skyrocketed beyond affordability and while the government is investigating it as I write this, that won’t change prices fast enough for most people.

Some of the things that used to work years ago or were the go-to tips for previous generations don’t work anymore e.g. lamb shanks used to be cheap meat, now they are expensive.

In recent years, we’ve experimented with various foods, learned about longevity, more about nutrition and made some changes.

With this knowledge, we’ve reduced our grocery bills while improving our health.

Note: I am not including the basics of shop with a list, plan your meals, buy in the sales/reduced items or buying/cooking in bulk.

I feel those are covered extensively everywhere including my articles: 18 tips to reduce your groceries to under $150wk for a family (from 2020) and 22 tips to reduce the cost of groceries.

Here is what we are doing now, as in for 2024 and beyond to save money on groceries, besides the basic, generic advice.

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How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024. Image of a grocery bag on a wooden bench.

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1. Maximise Protein And Nutrition

Note, I am not a medical practitioner, you need to get your own medical advice for anything diet/health related.

Due to our conditions, we have regular testing so can compare to before making these changes and after. All the changes we make are done with our medical professionals and are tracked.

Learning about longevity, The Blue Zones as well as how diet impacts conditions that I have were strong reasons to change how we eat.

As a few examples, within our household, we have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), adenomyosis, autism, ADHD, PTSD and a few other matters. Diet will not cure ANY of these but it can help ease symptoms.

The biggest factor for making changes though was longevity, quality of life for as long as possible.

Reducing the cost of groceries has been a delightful side benefit of this, not to mention the reduced cost of health issues long term.

Here are a few things we learned about and changed:

Increasing Protein

The amount of protein you need varies based on several factors such as age, body size, if you are building muscle etc.

As a general rule, it’s 0.7g to 1g per kilo of body weight. If you weigh 75kg you should be eating 52g of protein.

Protein has numerous benefits, one being it helps you feel full for longer which means you’re less likely to be snacking or overeating.

By changing what we ate and focusing on complete proteins, especially plant-based ones such as beans and rice or succotash, we felt fuller and healthier.

I am not saying you have to go vegetarian, what you eat is your choice, I am saying learning more about nutrition and making changes is beneficial for everyone.

Reducing Sugar

Sugar makes you hungry because it activates the reward centre of the brain differently to other foods.

The more sugar you have in your diet, the more likely you are to be hungry and overeat.

Eating more isn’t the only issue with sugar, it impacts your grocery bill though.

By limiting the amount of sugar you consume, you are likely to reduce the amount you eat and therefore lower the cost of groceries each week.

Check out these 12 signs you’re having too much sugar and how it impacts you.

We didn’t eat much snack food or processed food so the main things we looked at were sauces, yoghurt and seasonings.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

Food Combinations

How your body absorbs nutrients can change drastically depending on food combinations.

When your body absorbs nutrients correctly or at the maximum capacity, your overall health improves and you tend to be less hungry.

Some of the changes can be simple to incorporate into your current diet to give it a boost e.g. these 8 food combinations.

For us, once we learned about how food works together and the better combinations as well as how some combinations cancel the benefits e.g. banana with berries reduces the flavonoids in berries, it was a no-brainer. We wanted to do whatever we could to eat better within a budget.

2. Price Per Kilo

How often will you grab a chocolate bar or bag of chips at the store but view raspberries as too expensive?

Chocolate is around $20 to $40kg for Cadbury whereas strawberries are usually $10kg and other berries slightly more.

Berries contain more nutrition and are significantly better for you than chocolate plus they’re generally cheaper!

Look at the price per kilo or price per unit for everything you are buying to see the real value.

You probably already do this for things such as washing powder but are you doing it for all the snacks you buy?

When reviewing groceries for other people over the years, the price per kilo for junk snacks vs healthy snacks was rarely considered.

Once they saw how expensive the junk really was compared to the ‘expensive’ fruits and vegetables, they changed.

This also connects with tip 1 about better nutrition and the next tip.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

3. Portion Control and Waiting 20 Minutes

We purchased smaller dinner plates and bowls because people tend to fill the entire plate or bowl without thinking about how much food that is.

The size of most plates now is huge in comparison to previous generations and causes us to eat more than we are supposed to.

Being aware of portion sizes and eating accordingly made a difference in the cost of groceries and our health.

Next, wait 20 minutes before getting seconds as this is approximately how long it takes our stomach to tell our brain it’s full.

Getting seconds immediately after you’ve finished your first meal or grabbing dessert right after your man can cause you to overeat.

Aside from spending more on food, overeating causes issues for your body by making the organs work harder, releasing more hormones and enzymes, making you feel sluggish etc.

Those issues can build up over time and cause long-term health issues which cost even more.

Be aware of your portion sizes, wait before getting seconds and take care of your health.

4. Do What You Can, When You Can

Meal planning takes time, as does meal prep and cooking so do what you can when you can.

If you know you have time on the weekend to do a bulk cook, consider allocating that time to it so you can freeze some meals or have meals in the fridge for the week.

Set a time each week or month to create a meal plan if you want to or find ways to make meal planning quicker and easier (more on that further down).

If doing a full meal plan or bulk cooking is too much, get a list of easy recipes you can make from basic items in your cupboard.

Dhal, simple curries, fried rice, pancakes, rice paper rolls, wraps and similar are easy meals to us that we can make even if we don’t feel like doing much.

And if you are already cooking, aim to stretch the meal with more vegetables and lentils or cook double so you can save some for later.

You know yourself, your schedule and how much energy you have for planning and cooking so use your time wisely and do what you can, when you can.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

5. Shop Outside the Supermarkets

Price gouging from the supermarkets has increased drastically and while the government is looking into it, that doesn’t help you right now!

We have preferred shopping at farmers markets, the local butcher, international grocers, The Reject Shop and other places in general.

The only time we’d use the supermarkets is to purchase half price items which we can’t get elsewhere and then we’d do it with an extra 10% off as well.

Check out how to maximise Flybuys and Everyday Rewards.

6. Get Meal Kit Discounts

I don’t want to meal plan much and using the meal kit discounts means I never pay full price for HelloFresh, QuiteLike, Marley Spoon etc.

Full price meal kits will not save you money but discounted ones can save you time and money.

By rotating through the discounted meal kits, you only spend a few minutes planning your meals then it all gets delivered.

For example, start with a free HelloFresh box then cancel the service and use the EveryPlate discount to get up to $180 off spread across a few boxes.

Cancel once you’ve used the discount and get up to $144 off with Dinnerly, do the same with Marley Spoon and up to $200 off with QuiteLike.

By the time you’ve used a couple of discounts, the first meal kit you used will be offering you a discount to come back.

Rotating them this way you can get discounted meal kits for a long time.

It’s also a great way to try new recipes without needing to buy a bunch of random ingredients. We found a few frugal favourites this way.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

7. Combine Discounts

There are so many discounts available and many of them can be combined to save you even more.

For example, if you get things on sale, use the rewards program connected with the shop to collet points then pay with either a discounted gift card or credit card that gets points, you are combining discounts.

I cover how to combine discounts in this article and 9 frugal habits to save you thousands.

8. Make Your Own

Sometimes making things yourself is cheaper, sometimes it’s not.

It takes more time to make your own but sometimes the savings can be worth it plus you know exactly what’s in it.

Sourdough bread, kombucha, spice mixes, granola and yoghurt are a few of the things we make ourselves for less than we can buy it.

We also like having control over the flavours, sugar content and other additives.

I have friends who make their own soaps, shampoo bars, conditioners and more.

When it comes to beauty, we make our own body scrubs and prefer natural products where possible.

9. Grow Your Own

Everywhere we have lived we’ve tried to have a garden, even if it was only a few herbs in pots.

In our current home, we have more plants than we ever have before including tomatoes, herbs, lettuce aloe vera and other similar veggies out the back.

Roses, lavender and jasmine out the front and numerous indoor plants as well.

Growing your own can take a little to get set up but it there are frugal ways to do it and the benefits are huge.

The herbs alone save us a small fortune and drastically change the taste of our food.

Homegrown herbs have much more flavour than storebought so we use less and it tastes better.

Read 9 things to grow in your garden to save money.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

10. Experiment with Different Food

Our family is a blend of various cultures and we’ve lived in a few locations that have influenced how we eat.

On top of nutrition being front of mind, we’ve discovered some dishes from other cultures are more nutritious and cheaper than the traditional “Aussie” meals I grew up with.

We eat a wide variety of cuisines and enjoy trying new things.

Experiment with cuisines from other cultures, try adding lentils, chickpeas and similar to your mince dishes or curries to make them go further and don’t be afraid to try something new.

11. Cash Back Offers

I mentioned combining discounts earlier, cash back offers can be a great way to get money back on whatever you are buying.

The main supermarkets typically only offer something for new customers but other stores have more options and you can get groceries from numerous places, not just the supermarket.

Check out the cash-back apps and sites I use plus other tips to get more discounts.

12. Discounted Gift Cards

We never pay full price for gift cards because there are ways to get them discounted.

Look for when they go on sale at the supermarkets since those ones usually last 3 years from the date of purchase.

Check Black Friday sales and similar for anywhere you like shopping.

Buy gift cards through The Entertainment App at up tp 10% off, various memberships such as some insurance companies offer discounted gift cards.

If you do online surveys, you can cash out with gift cards for some of them and they are worth more.

For example, if you cash out a $100 gift card, it only takes $96 instead of $100 from your survey account.

There are 5 ways to get discounted gift cards here.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

13. Snack Smarter

How often do you snack without even thinking about it?

Sometimes we snack out of boredom, sometimes we are dehydrated and don’t realise it and sometimes it is out of habit.

In general, we snack more than we need to and snack on junk.

If you are going to have snacks, choose nutritious options and be mindful of what you are doing.

Ask yourself if you are actually hungry or snacking out of boredom/habit/dehydration and you might find you snack less.

The same goes for the kids, when they are active they snack less, especially if you ensure they’re having nutritious meals and keeping hydrated.

Snacks in our house are fruit, veggies and dip such as hummus, eggs, smoothies, nuts etc. But we don’t snack much anymore.

14. Reduce Takeaway

Technically takeaway is separate from the groceries but since many people don’t budget for it and do it because they are exhausted, I wanted to include it here.

The easiest way we avoid takeaway is by cooking meals ahead of time and having some available in the freezer.

Some meals are done in single portions, others in family-size portions so we have a mix of sizes to adapt to how many family members are home.

On days we know we will be home late, we are sick, will be extra busy or anything else we know will make it harder to cook, we defrost something from the freezer.

What Meals Do We Freeze?

Bolognese is a favourite with my kids, as is butter chicken, lemongrass chicken, green curry or any other curry.

The mince for san choy bau or most mince dishes in general freeze well such as these 28 mince dishes.

Broth for Pho is one of our favourites if we have the other ingredients at home.

Soup is an easy option. It’s a great way to use up sad veggies such as in pumpkin or minestrone soup.

If you do minestrone, leave out the pasta until you are going to eat it. Freezing pasta in minestrone soup doesn’t work well.

Pizza bases are easy to make and great to have on hand since it’s quicker for us to make a pizza than it is to order and get one delivered.

Stews, pasta dishes and pies all freeze well too but we don’t eat them much.

How to Save Money on Groceries in 2024

15. Invest in Reusable Items

Instead of buying feminine hygiene products regularly, invest in period underwear and cups.

Swap plastic straws for metal ones, use cloth instead of paper towel in the kitchen and cloths to clean instead of disposable wipes.

Go back a few years and many of the convenience/disposable items we use now were not available and are not needed.

Check out some ideas for switching to reusables here.

16. Use Everything

Learn how to turn leftovers into something new and use all the items that might otherwise be scrapped.

Turn peel into stock, soup can become risotto, and leftover roast veggies can be in a pasta bake or on a pizza.

There are numerous ways to give leftovers a new life and a large portion of what people throw away is edible e.g. broccoli stalks and cauliflower leaves.

Read how to reduce food waste for a huge list of everything from apples to zucchinis, ideas on what to make, links to recipes etc.

17. Barter, Forage, Fish

Bartering can be done with anything, not just the food you’ve grown being swapped with someone else’s produce.

Check out Facebook groups and local communities to connect with others interested in bartering.

Foraging can be fantastic if you know the rules, know what is edible, and where has been sprayed and don’t forage where it’s illegal.

Fishing is a favourite of ours as we do it as a family activity. Head to the beach, river or anywhere you are allowed to fish and try your luck.

Rarely do we come home empty-handed and we’ve done this everywhere we’ve lived.

18. Community Help

If you are in need, there are community pantries and charities available to help.

My daycare has a little section by the front door for families to donate food and plants for other families to use if they need them.

I’ve seen tables and mini-libraries around the place with a similar concept so you don’t have to approach charities.

Then there is food banks and various charities who can offer help if you qualify.

They are overloaded at the moment so it might take longer or you might not be able to get much but the help is there.

How are you reducing the cost of groceries now?

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