How to get free groceries, save thousands and not have to coupon or shop at a billion stores
Groceries is one of the biggest areas Aussies waste money and it has a huge environmental impact as well as financial. I think I’m lazy but what it means is I have developed habits which are simple to implement to save time, money and waste when it comes to groceries.
In this post, I share things I have done previously, what I do now and other tips along with freebies, discounts, where I shop and more. It does contain some affiliate links for products and services I use. You can read my full disclosure here.
How to save money on groceries
Reduce waste. Plan. Learn ways to substitute, use leftovers, plan and get discounts. Those are the main things people talk about and for good reason, they work! This post will cover all of them but first, the freebies and discounts.
Freebies For Groceries
A while ago I shared this massive post with free and super cheap groceries. Lately, the best things for me have been Flybuys (not only for the points but also free food offers), Woolworths Bunch, The Black Box and HelloFresh (get $50 off your first box). We give away free boxes of HelloFresh in The Thrifty Issue Facebook group which you can join here.
You can forage for food using this map to see what is available in your area or barter with others. Our neighbours and I give each other food and things all the time. Recently I got a jar of olives, some Macedonian cakes, pickled chillies and a bunch of roses from our elderly neighbours. We’d given them a few kilos of various cheeses and some pancakes.
Make Groceries Cheaper
Meal planning, cooking in bulk, making things from scratch, buying in season, these are all things we often hear. While they do save money, for some people it feels like a lot of effort. I have drastically changed how I do it over the years and prefer it this way. I share more about how I do things at the end of this post.
Who doesn’t love a discount? Get $35 off your first box from Marley Spoon here. $50 off your first HelloFresh box here. $8.95 off your first box with Dinnerly here and the code AFFHOFREE895. They are the cheapest meal box service and are owned by Marley Spoon. Read the comparison of the 3 here. Catch is fantastic for discounts every day, be sure to compare prices though.
Register for all the loyalty or reward programs and use them. With FlyBuys I accrue points but also get offered freebies such as Pepsi and a 1L almond milk this week. It’s based on your regular shopping. I also discovered if I put everything into the cart online when I was logged in then left, I’d get emailed $10 off to complete it within a few days.
Make meal planning easy
You don’t need to do up elaborate monthly meal plans. Planning your meals and grocery shop will save money though. Instead of planning loads of new meals and scheduling in something every night, look at what the most common things you eat are and plan around them. Remember things like sports, school activities and others things in life can change what happens. For example, Tuesday night we get home late so that is always a meal reheated from the freezer as it’s easy.
Even if you start by planning a few meals and shopping just for them to get used to it you will save money. Build up the meals you have in the freezer and it will get easier.
On Sundays, I tend to pull everything out, look at what I have and make a bunch of meals based on what is going to go off soon and what I can freeze. I get food for free from a variety of sources so don’t always have to buy or plan my groceries that much.
I do it this way because it works for me and it means I am not cooking every night. Some of the common meals we have are soups such as pumpkin or leek because they freeze well. Spaghetti bolognese, meatballs or lasagne as they freeze well too. Curries, stirfry and pho are popular here too.
I cook based around the vegetables and prefer vegetarian options to meat. We have meat a few times a week though. You can check out some of the things we eat, ideas for leftovers and cheap meals in 26 Ingredients for $4.95.
Other Tips For Discounts
Shop at the markets as they close. Here in Melbourne, Queen Vic Markets slash prices on a Sunday afternoon so you can get some great deals. Learn when and where your local markets or shops discount items.
Enter competitions online. I have won a few hampers this way. Also, do the surveys on your receipts after you’ve shopped to get a discount.
If shopping online, check the online-only specials at Coles and Woolworths. Buy things when they are half price and buy enough to get you through until the next sale. Never pay full price since everything goes on sale at some point!
Make Money With Groceries
Be a member of reward programs to get points you can convert into cash but be smart with them. If you play the shops against each other by doing smaller shops, only buying on special and splitting your shopping between them you will get better offers. By shopping at the one store your offers will be higher as they use the cards to track your spending habits. By splitting shopping and shopping around you can get offers of more points for spending less. For example, the other month I got spend $50 and get 2000 points where others had to spend $100 because they normally spent near $100.
Use Bron and Neilsen Homescanner to scan your receipts or groceries and get paid. Sign up to Bron (an app) and get 300 points with the code KB23 or join Neilsen Homescanner here.
Examples From My Life
Previously, I did a lot. Walked to Queen Vic Markets on a Sunday, loaded up my little trolley with the bargains, prepped everything and it took a few hours. Before moving to Melbourne I shopped around, split shopping between Aldi, markets and wherever was cheap.
Now, I am pretty lazy with it all for a few reasons. Time is most valuable to me and I don’t want to spend it going around a bunch of different places. My daughters and I don’t eat a lot so the amount I would save doesn’t make it worth it to me. If they were teenage boys it’d be different!
When we moved to Melbourne I sold my car so it was public transport or having things delivered which changed what I bought and how I did it. Lastly, getting HelloFresh for free from the referral codes (I use other people’s codes on the site now as I accrued so much) has changed how I do things. Our meals are based on what I choose from there each week and often there is enough for my kids to take some to school.
I shop at Aldi as it’s on the way home and cheapest for what we want. On a Friday night we get a few treats from Woolworths (again, it’s on the way home) and that’s it. I was buying a lot of vanilla Pepsi Max at anywhere from 50 cents to $5 a can or bottle but I committed to quitting that and already, 1 week in, it’s made a difference!
Flash Sale – 1 day only!
My favourite bundle of resources for home and meals is happening right now as a flash sale. It comes out once a year but for the next day you can get 129 eBooks, courses and printables worth over $3,000 for just $29.97usd. Grab yours here.