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7 tips to save money on your groceries

Food shopping on a budget can be challenging, especially when prices are higher than ever. Follow our money-saving tips to help your grocery budget go further while keeping your heart healthy.

Image shows a woman with a toddler in a trolley shopping in the supermarket. They are standing in aisle full of stickered discount prices and the woman is reading to see which items are the best price.

Most New Zealanders are trying to stretch their dollars further and eat better for less. But does eating on a budget mean you have to sacrifice nutrition? How easy is it to be on a tight food budget when there are a lot of other priorities in our lives?

Find out how to stay on track with your health and budget with our top money-saving tips on grocery shopping.

In this article

1. Buy in bulk

If you use a lot of something, buy it in bulk. Food staples like rice, oats, flour, breakfast cereals, nuts, seeds, cheese, meat, fish and eggs are often cheaper if you buy them in larger quantities. Make sure you're using them before they go off.

Two shelves in a pantry hold glass jars containing bulk foods, such as oats, pasta, dried beans, rice.

2. Make the most of your freezer

A great way to save money on your food shopping is to buy frozen foods, such as vegetables and fruit, which keep for a long time and are just as nutritious as fresh foods. This way, you will waste less as you can use precisely what you need instead of cooking all your fresh food.

Another idea for using your freezer is to buy fresh foods that are on special, such as meat, chicken and fish and to label and freeze them until you're ready to use them.

Portions of chicken have been separated and placed in plastic containers ready for freezing

3. Buy in season

Buying fruit and veges out of season can completely blow your food budget. You may end up paying more than you expect and be shocked at some of the prices on your receipt.

Get to know what fruits and veges are likely to be in season. Check out this helpful guide to seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Remember, prices vary weekly, so make the most of a low price when you see it. It can pay to have an idea of what you're looking for and then decide when you are in the store whether it is within your budget.

4. Make a meal plan

Get organised before shopping and plan meals until your next food shop. Meal planning is a great way to save money because you use the ingredients you buy most effectively. It'll also stop you from wandering the supermarket aisles and picking up things you don't need.

Remember to think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner and whether you can cook more to have as leftovers the next day.

Need inspiration? Browse our great selection of recipes or download our free weekly meal planner template.

Image shows a female hand writing down some options in a weekly meal planner. The title Weekly meal planner is visible at the top of the page. Also visible are separate fields for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

5. Use a shopping list

When you go food shopping, take a list and do your best to stick to it. Only go shopping when you're not hungry or if you have a plan for what to buy. Research shows that you are much more likely to spend more if you're shopping whilst hungry or without a clear idea of what you want.1

Remember to check your fridge and cupboards beforehand to see if you've already got some of the ingredients. There's no point buying extra when you don't need it. Save that cash instead.

Shopping without a list may mean you purchase more items that are heavily discounted or promoted at the end of the aisle. Just be mindful that these foods are often highly processed.2

An older lady is shopping in a grocery store. She has a shopping basket over her arm and a shopping list in both hands. She wears a green t-shirt.

6. Compare prices

Always look for the price per weight or volume (kg/g/ml – standard supermarket pricing) of everything you buy and compare it with similar items. This way, you can get the best price, regardless of package size.

Supermarkets usually offer a range of similar products at different price levels. Sometimes the only differences are the price and location on the shelf. The more expensive branded items will be at eye level so you can easily see them. Cheaper or store-brand items may be lower down on the shelves. Keep an eye out for offers and specials, but compare them with the regular price, as they aren't always the great deals they seem and may make you purchase more than you need.

7. Cook at home where you can

Invest in setting up your pantry with ingredients like dried herbs, spices, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegar, curry paste, pasta, rice and canned foods like chopped tomatoes and beans.

Most takeaway meals like curries, burgers and pizzas can be replicated easily in your kitchen with just a little thought, effort and pre-planning. Plus, you can cook them in bulk and freeze portions for later.

A Pacifica mother and teenage son prepare vegetables together at the kitchen workbench for  their evening meal.

Be a healthy Kiwi

The most important thing to remember when food shopping is that while it can be tempting to go for the easier choice, this isn't always best for your heart health.

Eating a wide range of heart-healthy foods will help to nourish and protect your heart and reduce your risk of heart disease. While food prices are sky-high, you may need to change how you shop, cook and prepare food. This may mean buying more frozen and canned foods, cooking two-night meals, or making some ingredients stretch further.

More help and tips for healthy eating

Download our free weekly meal planner


  1. Xu et al. Hunger promotes acquisition of non-food objects. PNAS. 2015. Feb 15; 112 (9) 2688-2692.
  2. Tawfiq et al. Does the prevalence of promotions on foods and beverages vary by product healthiness? A population-based study of household food and drink purchases in New Zealand. Public Health Nutrition. 2021 Dec 20;25(5):1-9.