Spending less on groceries

The myth of sales

Yes, it’s true that if you diligently track the price of a certain product, sales can help you save money. Also, it’s true that buying in bulk maximizes your savings.

But any of these savings are lost if you go to a store without a pre-planned grocery list and a clear action plan. Impulse buys (products which you did not plan to buy before going to the store) are an easy way for a grocery store to improve their revenue. Impulse buys are even more frequent when a product is discounted.

Imagine this. You are going to the grocery store with a pre-planned list and a clear action plan. On your list there are only two items: nuts and apples. You are going to buy them in bulk, since there is a big discount. Your action plan is very simple: 1. Buy nuts. 2. Buy apples. Nothing more and nothing less.

And then you see that there is a sale for sweets. Sweets are neither in your grocery list, nor in your action plan. You most likely will buy them. A 30%, 40% or even a 50% discount is a great reason to change your action plan, right?


Since you did not plan to either buy or eat those sweets, the discount you received won’t help you save money. You will have to: a)force yourself to eat the sweets or b)throw them away. Does that sound fun?

Sales are great. However, all your pre-planning will not help you save money if you do not recognize that sales are designed to increase your impulse buys. If you recognise this problem, you will be able to save money on sales. If you do not, you will see that your grocery bill is not becoming smaller.

Eating healthy

Eating healthy is the easiest way to save spend less money on groceries. How to do it?

  1. Grow your own food. Spices and small vegetables can be grown on your windowsill. Plan tomatoes at the start of the spring, and enjoy free tomatoes for the whole of the summer!
  2. Green foods>snacks. Snacks are such money wasters. Their production costs are low and profit margins are high. If you want to eat snacks, try to make them yourself some times. They won’t taste the same as the original product, but you will like them more since you made them yourself. A shopper is better off buying some fruits and eating them as snacks. Fruits are the healthier and cheaper choice!
  3. Don’t neglect meat. Eating healthy does not mean cutting out meat. Removing low-worth meat from your grocery list is the way to go. Low-worth meats such as sausages and meats high in sodium (bacon, cured meats) often have a high price per kilogram. They also do not offer much health benefits. It’s better to choose pure meats (without any additives, e.g. pork shoulder) and cook them yourself. In the end, you’ll spend a smaller amount of money and you will be eating meat which YOU cooked.
  4. Grains variety is the key. Cereals and grains and their derivatives should take up around 30% to 50% percent of your plate. Most cereals and grains aren’t costly and their prices aren’t volatile. The best part is that at right conditions, grains can be stored for a few years after buying. So, if you see a big discount for rice, don’t hesitate to buy up to 20 or 30 kilograms. That way, you won’t have to buy them for few years and you will save a lot of money!  Also, frequently changing grains and cereals you are eating is very important. Not only that will make your meals more interesting, but also it will help you eat a balanced and a varied diet.
  5. Cut out sugar. No low-fat products, no overtly sweet products, no low-calorie products. All these products only raise your insulin levels and offer minimal satiation to you. What’s even worse is that they are costly and have a high price per kilogram. You will be better off financially and health-wise if you always buy the full fat or the standard calorie version.

The magic formula

The internet is full of resources to diets, grocery shopping and saving money. Yet, only the person doing the shopping and eating knows which recommendations fit their tastes. Maybe you despise vegetables. Or you are allergic to gluten. Or you are a vegetarian.

There are endless possibilities how one advice may not fit all grocery shoppers. The real secret to saving money while grocery shopping is knowing how stores operate and your own diet guidelines. If you can resist the sales incentives of the stores AND figure out how to buy the products you need at the lowest price, you will maximise your savings. Even if you do only one of these things, you still will be saving more money than most people do!

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