How to Shop Smart and Save Money on Groceries

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Grocery shopping requires a strategy

Do you restrict your use of the AC to certain hours of the night in order to minimise the electricity bill? Do you carefully map out the costs of new kitchen equipment and make sure they fit your budget? If so, then you clearly care about managing your home and living expenses. However, you probably don’t have an effective strategy for managing the most common and unavoidable expense in your home – the cost of food and groceries.

Luckily, here are 5 easily applicable ways to make sure your grocery bill doesn’t put a dent in your budget.

1. Set a budget before you make your shopping list

You must know the famous riddle, ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?” The same can be asked of your grocery budget vs. grocery list. Well, when it comes to grocery shopping, you need to set your budget before you write your grocery list. Your budget should then determine what you add to your shopping list and not the other way around.

Ideally, you should spend between 10% to 15% of your monthly income on food, though this may vary if you are the sole provider of a big family. Regardless, you should try and stay within this threshold. So if you make TZS 1,000,000/month, then the maximum amount you can spend on groceries will be TZS 150,000/month, so about TZS 38,000/week.

The thing is, it’s often challenging for people to distinguish between what they need and what they want. So if you place parameters for yourself (in the form of a budget), this will help you prioritise the things you actually need rather than what you like, when you are writing your shopping list.

2. Prioritise items in your grocery list

Once you have your budget, it’s time to create your shopping list. Instead of just writing down all the items you think you need, divide your list into two sections:

  • The first section should be for the priority items  (things you absolutely need) like; cooking oil, onions, toothpaste

  • The second section is for items you’d like but you can live without; wine, jam, cheese

When you go shopping, you will first purchase all the items in the first section and if you still have money (within your budget) left, then you can spend it on some of the items in the second section. Without a grocery list that reflects your priorities, you will probably end up buying items you don’t really need and ruin your budget.

3. Buy from cheaper brands (whenever possible)

Ok, so if you are really serious about cutting down your grocery bill then you will start to purchase cheaper versions of some of the items you buy. For instance, if you have always been buying Harpic toilet cleaner then maybe try a cheaper brand that does the same thing.

You see, people are often loyal to certain brands that they’ve used for years, however, this doesn’t always mean that they are better quality than some cheaper brands. So experiment with different product brands, and if you find that there is no significant difference between your favourite brand and other versions, then always go for the cheaper one.

4. Buy food in bulk

Get into the habit of buying your non-perishable (things that don’t expire for a while) items like cleaning liquids, alcohols, water, and tomato sauce in bulk from wholesale sellers. Not only will you avoid the added charges of buying the items from grocery stores, and save a couple of 1000 TZS shillings in the process. You also won’t have to buy the item for a couple of months.

5. Buy groceries online

You can save time and fuel costs by ordering some of your groceries online. There are many sellers who will deliver to your doorstep or an agreed upon location at your convenience. You may hesitate to order your vegetables and meat products online, however, there are many suppliers who are trustworthy and will guarantee that you get quality produce when you use their services. Moreover, some popular supermarkets also have online delivery services, so you already know the quality of product to expect from them.

Start shopping smart

Learning to shop smart is a skill that will benefit your finances in the long-run. Hopefully, with these tips, you will start to see your grocery bill decreasing, and spend less time worrying about the amount of money you spend on food and other house-related items.

Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.