21 easy ways to save money on food

Most of us spend huge amounts on food each pay cycle - sometimes far more than we want to spend. These tips could help you save money on food.

  • Use your freezer: Freeze leftovers to ensure no food goes to waste. 
  • Meal prep on Sundays: Make Sunday your designated cooking day, and prepare a couple of meals for the week ahead to free into dinner and lunch portions. Freeze.
  • Ditch the supermarket: A dedicated fruit and vege store or Asian greengrocer can be much cheaper, and the produce is usually fresher.
  • Bulk your meals. Make your meat go further by bulking out dinners with lentils and beans. Add a can of kidney beans to your spaghetti bolognese, or a can of chickpeas to your casserole. Cheap, easy and filling!
  • Use a meal planner. Write a list of your favourite meals and use this as a guide to plan meals each week. Planning helps reduce stress and can avoid last-minute takeaways.
  • Shop with a list. We usually overspend if we shop without a list. Go through the pantry and fridge before you head out, and make a list of every item you need for your meals. Stick to the list.
  • Shop online. Online grocery shopping calculates the cost as you go, and it’s easier to reduce and add items. You avoid temptation in the shopping aisles, and it makes shopping hassle-free.
  • Eat before you shop. Avoid going to the supermarket hungry. You’ll be less tempted to purchase treat items.
  • Take your lunch to work. Buying lunch at work quickly adds up. If you buy your lunch every day, reduce to a few days a week only. Take leftovers on the other days.
  • Shop savvy. Savvy marketing like branding, specials, and placement in the aisles can trick us into spending more. Shop smart - compare prices by unit prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Buy in bulk if it makes sense. Taking advantage of bulk-buy specials can help save money, but only when it’s items you regularly buy or actually need. Think of the practicalities too around storage and expiry dates.
  • Shop seasonally. Fruit and vegetables out of their normal season are expensive. If your recipe calls for an expensive vege item, look for cheaper swaps. Carrots can be a cheap replacement. 
  • Use vouchers for eating out. Discount vouchers help cut down your spend. Use First Table or GrabOne for two for ones, early specials, and more.
  • A slow cooker is your friend. Slow cookers turn cheap meat cuts into dinner sensations. Make a large casserole or a big batch of versatile mince on a Sunday as part of your weekly meal prep.
  • Reduce waste. Food waste costs money and is bad for the environment. While freezing leftovers will help significantly reduce your waste, swapping to frozen veges helps too. Think before you buy.
  • Buy discounted meat. Meat is expensive and there are great deals to be had by buying on special, or meat that’s nearing the end of its use-by date. Find out what days your supermarket puts the discounted meat out, and stock up and freeze it.
  • Eat less meat. Eating less meat can also reduce your spend. Eggs are a cheaper and healthy alternative, and still fill you up.
  • Have ‘pantry meal’ days. Review your pantry regularly to find items you can use for meals. Challenge yourself to create a meal using only what’s left in your pantry and fridge! 
  • Swap to budget brands. Fancy packaging and brand recognition can lead us to buying more expensive items. Supermarket chains now have many ‘own brand’ products which are (usually) just as good, sometimes healthier, and much cheaper. 
  • Swap to frozen. Buying fresh veges can hit us in the pocket with waste. Frozen veges are just as healthy, are cheaper, and there’s less waste. If you prefer fresh veges, turn leftover vege odd ends into something like a quiche at the end of the week to avoid waste.
  • Grow your own veges. The verdict is still out whether this is actually cheaper, but see how you go. Either way, having a bounty of fresh veges you’ve grown yourself is excellent! 

Published 15 December 2020

Pie Funds Management Limited is the issuer of the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme. You can read our Product Disclosure Statement. This article is general in nature only and has not taken into account any particular person’s objectives or circumstances. We recommend you speak with an independent financial adviser. All content is correct at time of publication date.