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Never enter the grocery store on an empty stomach: top tips to consider before or during any grocery shopping outing

A woman shopper looks in the refrigerated section of a grocery store. Picture: Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)

A woman shopper looks in the refrigerated section of a grocery store. Picture: Karen Sandison African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 1, 2023


The cost of living in South Africa continues to remain high, which is why consumers are looking for various ways to stretch their money a little further every month.

According to the PMBEJD Household Affordability Index, the cost of the average household food basket has increased by 7% year-on-year.

Carla Oberholzer, registered debt counsellor at CreditSmart Financial Services, told “Business Report” that grocery prices are a continuous concern for shoppers.

“It’s crucial for South Africans to be mindful of their spending. As we navigate challenging financial times, it’s essential to try to make every rand count, especially during our shopping and grocery store trips,” Oberholzer said.

“In honour of Women’s Month, and to help alleviate the stress of grocery planning and shopping, CreditSmart shared some tips and considerations to help South African women make the most of their grocery budgets. Let’s shop smartly and confidently,” Oberholzer said.

Set and stick to your budget:

Determine your monthly grocery budget (this includes your budget amount – say R1 200 – per person in your household) and regularly use convenient budgeting tools to make sure you stay within your limits (whether using an Excel sheet outline or phone budgeting app, for example).

Plan meals and create a shopping list:

Before heading to the store, outline your/your family’s meals for the week or month.

Summarise each week’s menu in advance and create a well-organised shopping list (that you can tick off) with categories such as meat, canned goods, etc., as this can help you to avoid non-essential and impulse purchases while strolling through the store aisles.

Compare bulk and single item options:

Especially when it comes to non-perishable goods, make sure to take advantage of true discounts to save you money.

Calculate the cost per unit when choosing between individual items and bulk options.

Earn various store savings/discount points and use online/mobile apps to find specials on groceries and essential items. Regularly swipe your loyalty cards to increase your points so that you can redeem your rewards during future grocery purchases when you are really feeling the financial pinch. Also consider using apps such as or SnapnSave to help you save more than a few rand in the long run.

Explore online shopping options and hunt for specials:

Keep an eye out for grocery specials in online or newspaper (printed) ads and consider doing your grocery shopping online at your convenience as this can also help you to save on unnecessary fuel costs or to-and-fro shopping trips.

Opt for seasonal produce:

Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season as they are often cheaper and fresher, which is a win-win. Make sure to compare your local farmer’s market prices to various stores near your home or office.

Prepare your meals in larger quantities:

This can allow you to reduce food waste by freezing leftovers and saving you time on future cooking responsibilities and expenses.

Never enter the grocery store on an empty stomach:

Shop with a full tummy to resist temptation, prevent any unhealthy food choices, and avoid any unplanned-for purchases. Note: the snacks near the tills/paying counters are there for a reason.

Mind the details:

Use suitably sized shopping baskets and reusable bags. When shopping for a few items, choose a smaller basket to resist unnecessary buys. And don’t forget to take your reusable shopping bags with, not only to support the environment, but to also save on extra bag charges. Remember, even the little things can add up to significant savings over time.

Check your slip before making payment:

Avoid paying for any extra items that do not reflect what you added to your shopping cart.

“These practical tips and tricks can empower you to make ‘mindful’ choices when managing your grocery budget and purchasing essential goods each month. As we celebrate Women’s Month this August, we acknowledge the vital role you play as the pillar of your household and a financial decision-maker. As you get into the habit of ‘money savviness’, you ensure not only smart spending in the present but also establish a financially stable outlook for yourself (and your loved ones). Happy Women’s Month, and happy grocery shopping,” Oberholzer said.

Carla Oberholzer. Picture: Supplied