I love grocery shopping. I love making the list, deciding on which store to go to, and most of all, how much money I can save or what bargain I can hunt down. Now, I am a marketer by trade which actually means studying ruined grocery shopping for me from a very young age. Consumer BehaviourĀ in varsity taught us all the tricks of the trade from placement of products on the shelves to point of sale promotions and so forth. Thus the hubby usually gets annoyed when I burst the bubble of the “great promotion” by insisting that the product in question be placed back on the shelf at the end of the isle, and that he follows me to the corresponding isle. At this point I usually pick up the item that was promoted as “on special”, bend down and find the alternative (usually cheaper product and give the hubby “the look”) – you know, that “See! It is not cheaper because it is on promotion” look, and the truth is, buyers pay good money for that prominent space in shops, often adding to the bottom line of shoppers out to save some money on groceries and other purchases. So here are three of my surefire tips on saving between R 50 to R 100 per shop.

Make a list (or three)

Create an inventory

And by this I mean make a list of exactly what you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer. You will be amazed the amount of produce, sauces or even staples that have either reached their expiry dates, are open/stale or might have been purchased with no plan for use in any upcoming recipes or meals. I recently conducted this stock take in our home and was fascinated to see how many food fads hubby and I have been conned into. I also realized how much I bought when I didn’t know what we had in the house.

Create a meal plan for the week

Secondly, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, unpack the recipe books or grab your iPad and open Pinterest or your favorite recipe site. I am a big Pinterest fan and love my crockpot (slowcooker). You should also be brutally honest with yourself about your habits when preparing meals for your family and what your ability is to prepare breakfast, lunch or supper should you be working too. In my case, I always have the best of intentions but have on more than one occasion ended up ordering food via an app when my planning didn’t live up to the expectation in the early evening and the kids are getting hungry. This is where a slowcooker or crockpot comes in really handy. With the plethora of recipes available it is easy to come up with dinner for each night of the week.

Make your shopping list

Then, ensure that you have all the ingredients (which should be easy now that you have completed your pantry/fridge/freezer audit) and make a list of the additional items that you might need to complete the meal plan for the week.

Plan for savings

Planning for a discount is easier than you think with smartphones today. I have downloaded the Pick ‘n Pay and Checkers apps on my iPhone and I check them regularly for specials or promotions. I have signed up for every loyalty card and points system available and frequently study the consumer information on enhancing these benefits (i.e. like in the case of linking my Pick ‘n Pay Smart Shopper Card with my Momentum Multiply card which increases the points on every shop). I then also check out deal sites like Unilever Deals which offers additional savings and promotions at various stores including Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite, Dischem and Spar. Now the trick is not buying things because they are on promotion (you are not saving money if you are buying things you didn’t need) but rather matching the available offers to the items you need to buy. You can also utilize any funds available on your loyalty cards to help pay for items.

During my last shop I saved a total of R 117 as I needed to buy pasta and pasta sauce, tomato sauce, washing powder and a cleaner for kitchen counters. This is how the shop panned out:

  • Pasta and pasta sauce (R 10 off pasta sauce and a free box of Knorr Pasta Meal kits on Unilever Deals)
  • Tomato Sauce (Double points using my Smart Shopper card – which was also doubled because of swiping my Multiply card at the same time)
  • Washing Powder – R 30 discount on a 3KG bag of premium brand washing powder so I bought two)
  • Kitchen surface cleaner – R 10 off and a free copy of You magazine
  • Gravy Powder – R 5 off per sachet

Smart Shoppers also get a free copy of the Pick ‘n Pay instore magazine, Fresh Living, which is the only printed magazine I still take home. This way I quickly topped up on the items required to complete our meal plan and scored some reading material while saving a few bucks.

Stick to your meal plan

And make the most of leftovers! We usually ensure that leftovers are either packed for lunch for hubby and I, or that it makes up lunch for the kids while we are at the office. Making sure that you have everything you need for lunches and dinners (with some ready staples for breakfast) will ensure that you do not add any unnecessary expenses to your wallet (or inches to your waistline).

I would love to hear about any other tips or tricks you apply to save money on the grocery shop for your household.