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6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries

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Ryan Ong

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The supermarket has a strange effect on my brain. I can walk in there looking to buy two eggs, and come out with more food than Somalia’s seen in a decade. Just last week, I broke all previous records, spending a heart-stopping $432.20 on groceries. After wedging a stool against the fridge door to shut it, I researched some ways to deal with my grocery addiction:

The easiest methods to trim that grocery bill are:

  • Never shop spontaneously
  • Show up late (at Cold Storage)
  • Time your purchases
  • Mix your grocery locations
  • Don’t buy branded
  • Use the right credit card

 

1. Never Shop Spontaneously

 

Outside Clementi Fairprice, tent booths
“Of course I’m specific. I specifically don’t know what it is I want.”

 

Never walk into the store thinking “Groceries for next week, I’ll just wander around and see what I need.” As far as your brain is concerned, we’re still living in the stone age, and we need everything. Before the sabre-tooth cats get it all.

Repress this instinct with a good old shopping list. Go in there and just buy what you need. I’d also make it a point to make every week’s list similar to last week’s. This sets up an internal rhythm, and habit will dissuade us from buying new things. Just tweak one or two items at the most, if you’re sick of Monday night Ramen.

 

2. Show Up Late

Cold Storage has a deli, where you can buy wraps, chicken, corndogs, etc. If you show up late (around 8.30 pm or so), you can buy these at a discount. Especially the outlet at PoMo. Fewer people go there, and I’ve gotten whole spring chickens at half price.

 

Bottle of vodka at Cold Storage
Also…Cold Storage: The fresh food people.

 

I usually clear out the whole counter, which is enough food for two or even three nights. The downside is that you’re restricted to what’s left. But there’s nothing wrong with corndog dinner two nights in a row, no matter what my nuitritionist claims.

Doctors. What do they know?

 

3. Time Your Purchases

Buy certain vegetables, like asparagus, only when they’re in season.

Not sure about seasons? It’s easy to remember after a while. You can also ask the sellers; Bedok market is practically a school of agriculture. In Singapore, out-of-season fruits aren’t usually more expensive; you just won’t be able to find them. So nature’s managed that part of your shopping for you.

 

4. Mix Your Grocery Locations

A lot of the time, we know that other grocers have a sale going on, or give better deals. We’re just too lazy to travel all the way over there. Well don’t be. It’s not as if shopping for groceries won’t burn a few hours anyway, whether the store is a bit further.

 

Woman buying vegetables from the market
“I have a lot of experience as a marketing executive.”

 

Also, don’t restrict your buying to supermarkets. Local markets have the same suppliers, and they sell at a lower price. If you don’t like the smell of a neighbourhood market, you can always have your manservant hold a perfumed hanky to you nose. M’lord.

 

5. Don’t Buy Branded

Do you care which company packed your fish or your meat? Bet you can’t even name them. Just poke it with your finger and see if it’s good, right?

So why would you care about the brands on packaged food? Trust me, all the canned strew is packed the same way: by a bunch of people who shout a lot in Cantonese, and seal tins in a factory. Save yourself the bucks, and look for house brands like No Frills and First Choice.

 

Man sniffing can of spam
“Just sniff it. You can tell this can is fresher than that other can.”

 

Groceries are a major household expense, and usually the first ones to catch new families off-guard. If you’re budgeting for your home, remember your situation: grocery shopping is not fun shopping. It’s a mandatory expense, like a visit to the petrol station.

 

6. Use The Right Credit Card

It may seem ironic to recommend spending money to save money, but if you are doing all of the above to reduce your grocery bill, you can even go one step further by gaining the rewards from using credit cards that give specific benefits for grocery shopping.

For a full list of the best credit cards for groceries in Singapore, you can check out MoneySmart’s new Grocery Credit Cards Section!

Do you have any tips to save money on groceries? Comment and let us know!

Image Credits:
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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.