How to be a smart supermarket shopper

Laine Gordon

Laine Gordon

Are you wasting your money on convenience when it comes to feeding your family? Pre-prepared meals could be making a dent in your savings account. Here are some tips to get saving!

Australians shopping more often

According to Roy Morgan Research, meal preparation often gets kicked to the kerb, with more Aussies turning to frozen and ready-made meals than even before. In the year to March 2014, almost one in ten individuals (14 years or older) had eaten a frozen/chilled ready-prepared meal in the last week.

“Frozen/chilled ready-made meals represent a convenient shortcut for busy Australians who don’t have time to cook their own meals every night,” said Angela Smith, Roy Morgan Research Group Account Director for Consumer Products.

On top of that, the latest Woolworths report stated Australians spend just over one-third of their grocery budget on their primary shopping day, suggesting that people are frequenting the supermarket multiple times per week, popping in whenever they get a chance after work. Plus, individuals are cutting corners when it comes to what they buy.

But you should be adding up how much you’re spending on such meals — it may be cheaper to bulk-buy frozen vegetables and meat, and freeze portions to cook throughout the week.

Here are a couple of tips to being a smarter supermarket shopper, potentially leaving more money for your savings account.

Don’t shop when you’re stressed

New research shows working Australians are more and more pressed for time — so it’s no wonder they’re turning to dash-in, dash-out food shops and frozen meals.

Morgan McKinley’s 2014 Working Hours survey found 91 percent of Australian professionals work more than their contractual hours, with 45 percent of respondents working 10 or more hours beyond what’s stipulated in their employment agreements.

However, you should avoid shopping when you’re tired, hungry or grumpy — such as after a long working day — as you may find yourself more inclined to throw snack food in the trolley. It could be worth revising your supermarket trips, too. Instead of heading in after work each weekday night and paying for pre-prepared meals on your credit card, try and do one big shop on the weekend.

Simmer your way to savings

Once you’ve set yourself a dedicated shopping day, you might be wondering whether you’ve got time to prepare a meal each night.

This is where a hearty stew or family-favourite lasagne can be real time-savers. Prepare multiple batches of these meals on a Sunday night and freeze them in family-size portions to pop in the oven or microwave on the busiest nights of the week. Cooking in bulk is often more cost effective, so you could soon see a positive difference in your savings account.

On evenings when you’ve got a little more time to spare, opt for meals like stir-fries loaded with seasonal vegetables, creamy pasta or spicy chicken drumsticks with fresh salad.

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