In theory, it seems easy to plan your meals and only buy the items you need each week. But in reality, sticking to a plan and a budget is often a bit harder. When we are confronted by “special” signs everywhere while racing through the supermarket at the end of a busy day, it is all too easy to ignore the list in favour or spontaneous shopping.

Are you looking for a few tips to to curb unplanned grocery budget blowouts? Read on…


Consider taking cash with you

Using cash rather than your credit or debit cards when grocery shopping can be a good idea. When you don’t have an additional source of funds as a backup, you are more likely to stay on budget and really add up what you are spending as you go round the shop (if only to avoid embarrassment at check out).

Keep checking your list

Going off-list is likely to cost you more in unbudgeted expense, and also result in forgetting something important that was on your list. This can means a second trip to the supermarket – and more temptation to add a couple extra items to the basket.

Are multi-buys a bargain?

While ‘5 for $5’ has a great ring to it, do you really need five items – or will four of them sit in your cupboard until they have expired? It may be more budget-friendly to just buy the actual number you need, as the cost may still be less than buying the 5 for $5.

Consider the size of the tin or packet items you’re buying

Buying small ready-made snack packs may seem like a good idea – but are you putting convenience above cost? Buying the bigger size of something you use regularly, and then dividing it up (such as smaller containers for your yoghurt for lunch) into smaller containers is a better budget option.

Be careful with specials

Is saving a few cents worth blowing your budget? Make sure it is really a special – and and more importantly – for an item that you will actually use.

Sticking predominantly to your list will help you avoid blowing the budget at grocery-shopping time. But make sure you factor in some flexibility, to take advantage of items on special that you frequently use (like laundry and bathroom items or breakfast cereals), as this will save you money in the longer term.