8 easy ways to shop for less

The weekly or monthly supermarket shop is a big expense in most households. We looked at clever tips and great ways to save on food and household products when you shop.

8 winning ways to shop for less

1. Buy frozen meat
Frozen meat and chicken livers are usually cheaper than fresh at a supermarket, Frozen food is very convenient and if kept in the freezer it won’t go off.

2. Buy VAT free items
VAT went up last year by 1%, and it has made a difference. So where possible, buy VAT free goods. These include brown bread, maize meal, samp, dry beans, lentils, vegetables, fruit, milk, cultured milk, eggs, canned pilchards.

3. Buy no-name brands
They are cheaper, sometimes by a lot.
We found:

  • White spirit vinegar 750ml bottle
  • No name brand: R9
  • Brand name: R17

That’s nearly double the price!

4. Buy refills
The refills which many brand names offer are usually cheaper, but not always, so you should do the comparison.

5. Look for specials
Many retailers advertise current specials in local papers and on their websites. These can offer very good deals, so look through them to see if what you want is on special.
Top tip: Start a WhatsApp group with saving-savvy friends. When you find a good deal, share it!

6. Cheap proteins
Move over beef and chicken – these protein sources are cheaper:

  • Frozen chicken liver: 400g for R17.00
  • Lentils, dry brown: 500g pack for R17
  • Eggs, on special 23 May: 30 eggs for R72
  • Baked beans: 410g tin for R8

Canned fish such as pilchards are also very reasonably priced (and VAT free). 400g pilchards in tomato sauce costs just R19. And if your taste and budget stretch to salmon, tinned salmon is far cheaper than fresh.
We found:

  • Fresh salmon cost per 100g: R52
  • Frozen salmon cost per 100g: R42.50
  • Canned salmon cost per 100g: R16

7. Cheap cleaning products
There are lots of different cleaning products, but you don’t need them all. The basics do much the same job. We’ve included vinegar and bicarbonate of soda which can substitute for a range of cleaning products including fabric softener and window cleaner. Get a 5-litre vinegar on special when you find one, it will last for ages. And you can use an old T-shirt as a duster or cloth.

  • White spirit vinegar: 750ml for R8
  • Bicarbonate of soda: 500g for R24.50
  • Cream ammonia cleaning liquid: R22
  • No-name dishwashing liquid: R18

8. Cheap fruit and veg
The best tip we have here is to buy what is in season. You can usually tell this by the price and quantity available, and what is being sold on street corners. And avoid packaging and pre-cut because this can push up the price. Frozen vegetables can be also be more expensive:

  • Fresh carrots bulk 3kg, cost per 100g: R1.30
  • Fresh carrots 500g pack, cost per 100g: R2
  • Mixed frozen veg, 400g pack cost per 100g: R5

Is bulk cheaper?

Warehouse type stores (like Makro) should offer cheaper prices and have really good bulk deals.

We found:

  • 3l cream ammonia cleaner at warehouse: cost per 750ml R22.50
  • 750ml cream ammonia cleaner at supermarket: R22

But supermarkets can have some great specials. So decide on what you want first and then check the prices against what you usually pay so you know if you are getting a good deal.

Top tips: If there’s a really good deal share it with a friend or make some freezer meals.

Take transport costs into account! You might find a really good deal at a warehouse, but the warehouse centre is 50km away. Time spent and the cost of petrol needs to be taken into account. If the saving is worth more than the price of petrol it is a good deal, but if you’re spending as much as the savings, or more, on petrol you actually haven’t saved anything.

Take a little time to become a savvy shopper

Saving money on your weekly shop may at first seem a little time consuming – you’re comparing prices, comparing bulk with standard size prices, checking specials and more. But you can save money. Even if you save R10 every week, at the end of the year you’ll have R520 and that can buy some school supplies, or a special end of year meal. So take the time to become a savvy shopper. It could become a habit and the more you save, the more ways you may find to save.


Where we got our numbers: Prices, specials and quantities were obtained from websites and special supplements for Pick ’n Pay, Checkers, Woolworths, Game, Makro in May 2019.

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