Real Life

Reducing supermarket costs

Ideas and tips for reducing your supermarket bill from Colin Hogg.

I’m trying to get our supermarket bills to shrink a bit, but it’s not easy. Those places are packed full of temptation and two-for-one deals – it utterly pains me to resist them.

The truth is that times are a little tighter than they used to be, and the accountant tells me we need to reduce our overheads. And when I say “accountant”, I really mean wife.

She who has my heart also has the purse strings, which is probably a good thing too. I’m famous in my family for being a bit casual with money. You don’t want to get my thrifty old Scottish mother started on the subject, she might never stop. Of course, I blame all her thriftiness for my casual-with-cash ways. But lately, with a little persuasion from that accountant I mentioned, I’ve come around to seeing the sense in saving and trying to do my bit.

Even worse, though, is not enjoying those supermarket visits as much as I used to. Where once I lingered with my trolley and chatted merrily with the checkout operator, now

I find myself tense and silent, watching the numbers adding up alarmingly on the register.

In a bid to get things under control, I’m avoiding certain aisles of temptation. The ice cream aisle is now a no-no, along with the frivolous confectionery-and-soft-drinks one. Sometimes I don’t even venture down the beer aisle, even if it breaks my heart thinking about all the potential savings.

But sacrifices must be made and belts, as the accountant likes to say, must be tightened.

I’m wondering if part of the answer might involve becoming more self-sufficient – making our own ice cream, brewing beer, baking bread, raising chickens for eggs and soup.

Now that our vegetable garden is up and growing, there’s no shortage of leafy things to eat, though the 14-year-old is deeply unimpressed. Even at her advanced age, she remains stubbornly unkeen on greens.

And I, just as stubbornly, keep putting them on her dinner plate. I read somewhere years ago that if you constantly serve up hated vegetables on a kid’s plate, eventually that kid will give in, eat them, and maybe even learn to like them.

I don’t recall how many servings you were supposed to sacrifice, but hundreds of meals and a mountain of spinach later, she isn’t any more of a greenie.

The secret with controlling the supermarket bill is to stick to the list, as any seasoned shopper will tell you, but I even seem to have trouble with that.

“It was on special. Actually, it was almost free,” is the sort of thing I’ll yelp in my defence when the accountant’s fierce eye falls on some frivolity I’ve come home with. But I am getting better. Just the other day I managed to get through the supermarket and out the other end for less than $100, which is a new personal best.

It’s nothing to shout about, though – I had to go back the next day to get the things I’d left off the list.

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