Stop eating away your mortgage.

Weekly food expenses can get out of control if you don’t put in the effort to shop smart.

Here are 15 simple steps to cut back on your grocery bills without going hungry.

1. Start Grocery Shopping

This is the first step to cut back on your weekly food bills.

If you’re prone to grabbing a breakfast on-the-go, buying lunch out and swinging past the takeaway shop for dinner, chances are your weekly food expenses will be fatter than a fast food diet.

Start shopping, and more importantly, cooking.

Read on for more money-saving tips whilst you’re down the aisles.

2. Don’t Stick to the Supermarket

There’s no one-stop-shop when it comes to cost-efficient shopping. While supermarkets do have the majority of our weekly needs in stock, shopping around for different goods can make a massive difference to your overall bill.

Stock up on your weekly fruit and veggies at a local fruit shop or farmers market. Not only will you be supporting local farmers, but you’ll also be getting fresher produce for less.

Plus, you get to talk to the farmers to find out where your food is coming from and how it’s grown. The checkout chick can’t compete with that.

Don’t forget to drop by the discount store. You’ll find some of your favourite cleaning goods and cosmetic brands for half the price.

How do they do it? They often take the oversupply from the big chains and sell for cheap.

3. Buy Bulk and Use the Freezer

Meat is normally the most expensive item on the shopping list, but it doesn’t have to be. Buying bulk saves money and time. All you have to do is throw it in the freezer and you’ll avoid daily shopping for dinner.

Steak lasts 6 to 12 months stored in the freezer while a whole chicken or turkey can last up to a year. Check out FoodSafety.com for a comprehensive guideline.

4. Check Your Fridge, Freezer and Pantry Before You Go to the Shops

If you’ve started buying bulk and freezing, good job! Just don’t forget about the food you’ve stored.

Before you head to the supermarket, check to see what’s hiding at the back of your freezer, fridge and pantry and use what you have first.

5. Forget About Brands

News flash: a bag of sugar is a bag of sugar.

You’ll be surprised how much it all adds up if you pay ‘just a little’ extra for your favourite brands.

The reality is, you’re only paying for pretty packaging.

Stick to the generic brands. They are generally stocked away from eye level on the lowest or highest shelf. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t judge a book by its cover.

6. Try Meatless Monday

Yes, you can do it. Ditch meat for at least one day a week in favour of more budget (and animal) friendly foods.

You can still whip up a tasty, easy and protein-filled meal using vegetarian ingredients.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Mexican fiesta using beans, spices, and salsa.
  • Vegetable quiche loaded with eggs.
  • Potato and lentil curry.
  • Tofu and vegetable stir-fry.

7. Eat With the Seasons

It’s the cheapest and healthiest way to fill your trolley. Stock up on produce in season and in abundance and save last season’s goodies for next year.

8. Make a Shopping List…

…and stick to it. Grocery shopping is not the time to be rebellious. The goods in your trolley should match your list. If you find any extras, ask yourself ‘do I really need it?’

9. Shop Like a Grandma

Take a leaf out of grandma’s recipe book and shop the essentials.

Think milk, flour, eggs, sugar, and butter. You can make everything you need and more if you have the basics.

10. Make the Most of Vouchers

Another reason to shop like a grandma: vouchers. Buy one get one free coupons and fuel discount dockets are not only for those on a pension.

Make the most of them and save as much as possible wherever you can.

11. No Waste

If you’re prone to throwing out floppy carrots, brown bananas or mouldy cheese, you could be storing your food wrong.

The bottom shelf of a fridge is the coldest and the doors are the warmest.

As a general rule, store raw meat, fish, and poultry downstairs. Keep fruit and veggies in the crisper, leave the top shelf for foods that don’t require cooking such as cheese, milk or leftovers and keep the doors for goods high in preservatives like jams and sauces.

The ultimate goal is to not throw anything out. So, get creative and use the freezer.

Cheese getting close to the used by date? Make a big batch of cheesy lasagne and freeze. Peel and chop any brown bananas and make banana bread, smoothies, banana cake or oatmeal. Chop up any veggies on their way out and freeze to make an easy, already prepared stir-fry for future.

12. Stay Away From Snack Packs

Anything made for snacking is not made for budgets. Instead of buying pre-packaged goodies, buy bulk and wrap separately yourself.

13. Make Use of Specials

Stock up on your favourite foods when the prices drop.

Goods with long expiry dates to load up on include baking essentials such as flour and sugar, tinned food, spreads, breakfast cereals and frozen meat.

14. Look at the Price Per Kg

Price tags are a good start, but look further at the price per weight. It’s normally written below the price in smaller font and it’s the best way to determine the best deal.

15. Look Away at the Checkout

You know those final goodies at the checkout? Chewing gum, chocolate bars, trash mags… all the good stuff.

Supermarkets cleverly put them there as a final reward after a big grocery shop. Don’t fall for it.

They can add serious dollars to your final bill. If you really need chocolate (no judgment), go to the chocolate aisle.