I don’t know about you, but feeding our family takes a massive bite out of our monthly income. It also seems to take a larger bite every year – not just because our family and kids have grown, but because the actual cost of food seems to keep getting higher.

After weeks of interrogating our frugal friends, here are some of the the best ways we have found to cut down our grocery bills.

  1. Set a monthly budget. 

Use an app (I suggest the 22seven app) to calculate your current food expenses.

Plan meals to a budget. Decide how much money you will spend per week for food, then multiply that by 4,3 for the monthly expense. Now plan meals accordingly: breakfasts, lunches, dinners (and if you have kids: lunchbox snacks and afternoon snacks). Use your app to both set and stay within budget.

Give yourself a while. Setting a belt-tightening, but realistic budget will take 3 or 4 months of fine-tuning. The general rule is that if you haven’t been methodically budgeting until now, you should be able to cut down your costs by a whopping 20-25%! Lucky you.

  1. Reduce the temptation of impulse buying.

People who can avoid impulse spending save nearly 25% on their grocery bills by following a few rules:

Shop with a list. Don’t go into a shop hoping the food will choose you. Know what you will buy before you arrive, so you don’t add extra things to your trolley.

If you can, shop online – especially if all current specials are included on the website. Try Club Shop. It is exclusively for Home Tester Club members and offers great specials and deals.

Shop less. The less you shop, the more you save. Try once a month for non-perishable items and once a week for the rest.

Never shop hungry. This is when you will be most tempted to add expensive snack items to your trolley.

Shop alone. If you can, or else everyone will add their favourites to the trolley.

Tap away at your mobile calculator. Check quantities. Do the sums. On your calculator, you can also add up your items to help you stay within budget. When I started doing this, I discovered two big things: that bulk items aren’t always cheaper, and that retailers don’t always take off the discounts they promise on the shelves. Only if you check your slips and know what it ought to have totaled will you catch this.

Use the smallest cart you can. Studies have proven that the quicker your container fills, the less you are inclined to buy.

Shop with cash. Swiping that credit card makes whatever amount you’re paying feel inconsequential. But when you’re counting notes, you feel it. (McDonald’s did a study that showed that people will spend 50% more with a credit card than with hard cash.)

  1. Don’t buy what you don’t need.

Know what is in your freezer and pantry. That way you won’t buy what you already have. About once a month, just as you’re about to go shop, don’t. Instead ransack your shelves and freezer and unleash your inner Masterchef by whipping up something interesting from all the odds and ends.

Take your own re-usable carrier bags. This will save the planet as well as a few coins- every bit helps.

Don’t buy pre-packaged foods. Make your foods from scratch where you can. Better yet – get your kids to make it – slicing and dicing is a great chore for older kids.

Find cheaper substitutes. Review your last grocery receipt circle your most expensive purchases, and try replace these with cheaper items. It may be as simple as eating chicken more and red meat less.

Do you have any more budget-saving tips? Let us know in the forums!

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