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The cost of living is higher today than at any time in the past, and sometimes it’s hard to manage expenses, especially when inflation raises the prices of necessities like food. Luckily, there are a few ways to save on your monthly grocery bill.

Find deals

Plan meals by the ads

Most people know how important it is to do your grocery shopping with a grocery list. They usually make a meal plan for the week/month and then go shopping to buy the needed ingredients. But you can actually save more if you do it the other way around. First see where the best grocery deals are and go for all the items on sale. Then plan your meals based on the ingredients you have.

Do your research

How can you know if you’re saving money if you’re not entirely sure the supermarket you shop at has the most competitive prices? Determine whether the store you’re doing your shopping at has the lowest prices for your needs by doing a little research. Make a list of the ten items you buy most often (milk, bread, chicken, detergent, etc.) and then visit all the stores in the area to compare prices and find the one that will help you save the most on all ten items.

Be loyal

It pays to be loyal, quite literally. Don’t switch from grocery store to grocery store every time you go grocery shopping, not only will you be unable to correctly estimate amounts, you’ll be wasting a lot of your money. Pick n Pay has their Smart Shopper rewards program, Spar offers their own loyalty program, and Checkers has Eezi Coupons available online. Initiatives like these all help you save. Being familiar with these programs helps you focus on shopping in such a way that you reap the rewards while also saving on normal grocery costs.

Look at weight

It’s easy to be misled by the prices on stickers and then decide which product is cheaper, but is it really true? Keep in mind that the sticker is only the price of that specific item and that you should instead be looking at the price per weight to determine the better price. Items are charged per gram/kilogram and looking at this price will give you a better idea of the cost of the product. You can find this on the label on the shelf or, for meat products, in small print on the label itself.

Buy several weeks worth of on-sale items

Sales and promotions at grocery stores usually run in cycles, usually rotating every eight or 12 weeks. When you see your most commonly used products on sale, buy enough of this product to last you until the next sale (remembering that you’ll have to freeze perishables). For example, if you know you’ll finish a box of cereal in a week and you see it on sale, buy 10 boxes to save you money when the cereal isn’t on special anymore.

Stretch your supplies

Be strategic

The saying ‘waste not, want not’ rings true especially when it comes to groceries. If the items you buy go unused and eventually need to be thrown out, you’re essentially throwing your money away. Prevent this by sorting through your fridge and kitchen cupboard on a weekly basis and put all the perishables that need to be used soon in one area. You can then give them priority when planning your next meal, even freezing them for later.

Plan ahead

You can also strategically plan ahead by investing in a food coupon from Shoprite or Checkers every month. Take about R100 or R200 from your food budget every month to buy a coupon and then save them for a later time – just remember to check the expiry date. This way you’re saving for Christmas expenses throughout the year.

Dilute your dishwashing liquid

Your dishwashing liquid is so highly concentrated it will work just as well if it’s diluted slightly. When it reaches the halfway mark in the bottle, simply add water to fill the bottle up and be sure to mix it. This way you’ll extend the life of your dishwashing liquid. Or, even better, save old dishwash bottles and split each new bottle between two, allowing you to dilute the whole bottle straight away.

Never buy bags

Plastic bags are not only bad for the environment; they also add up if you’re buying them each time you shop. You can either buy bags once and reuse them (just be careful that they don’t tear) or you can buy material bags at a slightly higher price but then keep using them for all your shopping trips.

Being frugal and finding clever ways to save on daily expenses will contribute towards greater savings at the end of every month.

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