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Shopping tips

Bulk buying

  • I was buying some nails at Bunnings the other day. I needed 2000 (it was a big handyman job!) so I bought 2 boxes of 1000 each. The friendly chap at the counter asked if I had looked at the price of buying 3000 instead. I hadnít so he went to the isle to check the price and returned with a box of 3000. The costs was about 10% less than the two 1000 boxes. Not only did it cost 10% less, but I ended up with 50% more nails! I was very grateful for the excellent service. - Happy Harry, Whangarei.

  • I agree one has to check prices per kg when buying from bulk bins. Craisins (dried cranberries) bought from a supermarket bin were $13 a kg dearer than packaged ones from the same shop! I was informed it was because they came in fresh from the suppler. - WWG, Waipu 

  • Buy products like baking soda, spices, herbs and other baking products from the bulk bins at Bin Inn, check out the prices which are often a huge saving on buying the same packaged items at the supermarket. I bought wild bird seed there yesterday and its half the price of the supermarket for the same product, also things like fennel seeds are a lot cheaper than in the supermarket and epsom salts and baking soda.  (Epsom salt is good for some plants) I agree some things are the same price as the supermarket but there are savings to be had and also if you take your own container to fill up with liquid products this can help too. - C.P., Nelson.

  • Be wary of the bulk bins at supermarket, they are not always the cheapest, I always pull out my cell phone, use the calculator on it and work it out, often if I am buying nuts I will find that the pre-packed ones in the baking section is cheaper. My GF [girl friend] used to make hummus and used dried ones, which had to be boiled up and they really stink, the tinned ones were way cheaper and didn't require all the cost boiling them on the stove and time to re-hydrate them. - bobbob, Wellington.


  • When visiting a supermarket which has a deli section keep an eye out for ham bones.  When the staff have sliced off as much as they can with the big industrial slicers they wrap it in cling wrap and generally sell it for under $4.  I attack it with a small knife when I can get home and can usually cut off enough ham for several dinners and quite a few sandwiches.  In winter I use the bone and fatty pieces of meat to make a stew. - Aaron, Auckland.

  • At the Delicatessen section of most Supermarkets, buy the luncheon offcuts instead of the almost double priced standard sliced. At my local, for example, 1Kg of luncheon "offcuts/ragends" costs $2.49 while nice looking standard slices cost $4.50/Kg. - Lynda


  • Always, always check your till receipt after doing your grocery shopping. It is rare not to find mistakes which have cost you money. The shop computer and the shelf prices don't always match and the staff are always happy to remedy this. - Katy, Whangarei

  • We shop at the supermarket once per month, meat shop once every 3 months and vege/milk/bread shop weekly. I spend no more than $250 for the month for 2 people on general groceries - which ends up meaning $29 per person per week for food.  This also includes lunches for work.  I buy meat in bulk, package into meal size portions and freeze. I do not buy pasta sauces or satays etc - I make them from scratch, much cheaper and healthier for you (I do not have ingredients whos names are numbers).  Initially I thought it was much more expensive to home make, but that is really only for the initial outlay for specialised products. Buying ingredients in bulk is the way to go but only if you have the capacity to store what is left over - using fresh herbs grown in your garden makes for very tasty seasoning - easy to grow herbs are mint, parsley, basil, chives, coriander and thyme. I attempt to only buy products whereby I can recycle the packaging (our small 80L rubbish bin is less than one quarter full every week). And my final oilyrag suggestion is to run a household system which is "one product in use and 1 spareĒ (or more sometimes - 1 have 6 kg of soap powder in my cupboard right now) in the cupboard.  This works out well as there are times the product is not at a reasonable price so we do not get one every month.  This works particularly well with regards to cleaning products (I will often buy 2 spares if these are on special). - Shih_Tzu_Mum, Auckland

  • I used to buy my groceries every Thursday (pay day), I then moved it by one day each week; Friday then Saturday etc, till grocery day came around to Thursday again. When you reach the day you started you will have two weeks grocery money! This can then be used for unexpected bills or saved!  It really works!  A great way to ensure you use everything in the freezer etc. Ė Susan, Hastings

  • When in a supermarket, always head through so you can drive straight out, NO backing, NO crashes! - Ann of Whakatane.

  • Shop for specials.  Eg. Every week they rotate brands so one of the ice creams and 1L yoghurts will always be on special, usually for $3.99.  Go one step further like I do and get it when the brand you like; like Tip Top is $3.99 instead of the usual $5.99  My Foodtown always marks bakery breads and rolls down to 1/2 anywhere after 8.30pm every night, and marked down cakes that don't sell are cleared to be binned wed night, so its a sure bet if what you like is not sold out, you'll find it that night. - ME, Auckland.

  • In the supermarket, park your trolley (which has a  basket in it to protect the squashy goods and take up room!!!) at the end of the aisle & walk down the aisle choosing what you need then return to trolley. What you can't carry, you either can't have or you will have to go back for if REALLY needed. -Lorraine, Te Awamutu

  • Some large amounts of washng powder are expensive per kilo, can be cheaper in smaller amounts like one Kilo when on special like $2 or $2.50 watch the price for the weight with any product you buy, we feed the four of us for $240 that's on Average $60 per person. My Motto: buy on special when you can. - Murray Clark, Hastings.

  • Explore shops where you don't expect to find grocery items. Payless (was Payless Plastics) now parallel-import well-known deodorants and grocery items - E.g. 375ml Jif Cream for $2.50 but it's $3.75 at Pak n Save. Payless also stock party items and other things you would not expect them to. - OB1NZ, Auckland

  • Check out the $2 shops too. There are items there that are identical in other shops where you'll pay much more. - OB1NZ, Auckland

  • When your going to the supermarket for midweek top up shopping use the basket instead of a trolley.  It saves time, makes you think what you really need and saves you money. If you have young children sit them in the supermarket trolley as this will reduce space and help you buy less. - Bella, Auckland.

Impulse buying

  • It is believed up to 40% of all purchases at a grocery store are impulse purchases. See research by a Dutch university. See research >>> 


  • When doing a grocery list spend sometime on your computer writing up a list of absolutely everything that you buy in your grocery shop, Print it off and go around your kitchen and home to cross off what you have plenty of. Doing this will ensure that you don't need to go back to the supermarket until your next fortnight or monthly shop. - N.M, Blenheim.

  • Make a list and stick to it. Deviate and you'll spend more than you planned to.

  • Never buy pre-printed shopping lists or small notepads. Re-use envelopes received in the mail with lots of white spaces and use the blank backs of the letters inside. BuzzyBee, Waiheke Island.

Loyalty cards

  • Use "Loyalty Cards" especially ones that don't have an end date.  It might take a couple of years to fill your card, but it's worth it at the end.  Paper Plus have cards for books, for greeting cards; (buy 9 get the 10th one free); many cafes do (if you're part of a staff who have the occasional coffee out, it's good to know you'll get a free one eventually); Plastic Box does, many beauticians etc.  You have to spend money to take advantage, but if you have to spend, you'll do it at the place that stamps your card! -M.W.G., Hastings


  • Watch for "Use today"  meat specials, often half the normal price, and freeze for future use.  Towards the end of the week meat that is already on special becomes an especially good buy. - Jaycee, Kawerau


  • I prefer the option of on-line grocery shopping. It's easier for my lifestyle, and itís actually easier to control what you spend. On the surface of things, Pak n Save looks cheaper, but if you know how to use your on-line shopping features, you can make it work quite well for the budget. One of the best features is the ability to sort items by 'unit price - low to high'. It tells you very quickly which is the cheapest item, by bulk and price. The other aspect of online shopping, is that if you have a set budget, you can see straight away if you are going over it (before you buy), so you put items back, or exchange them for something cheaper. I have found it much more reliable to stick to a budget.- Anyway, Whangarei.

  • If you are a new mum or have multiple kids and HATE going to the supermarket you need to give countdown's online shopping a try, its pretty easy to do I save normally about $50 per fortnight I don't have to drag the kids around and its actually fun when the truck pulls up the drive and uppacking them all, and its worth the $8 I pay for them to be delivered! - Monique, Hastings.


  • I agree one has to check prices per kg when buying from bulk bins. Craisins (dried cranberries) bought from a supermarket bin were $13 a kg dearer than packaged ones from the same shop! I was informed it was because they came in fresh from the suppler. - WWG, Waipu 


  • Investigate Smile City.  A number of shopping sites plus earn points.  No need to shop to earn - when enough points, can cash out ($30 so far and eligible for another $30 at present), or donate to a specified charity, or bid on an auction.  More details at www.smilecity.co.nz  The website was upgraded during the latter half of last year. - Rosy, Wellsford.


  • I would like to comment on your article in Hawkes Bay Today, yesterday (06-04-10). You have missed out on one other rare sub-species of homo shoppiens: The super special swapper shopper.  You were talking about the rage when a shopper finds an article cheaper, on special the next day.  The super special swapper shopper, who interestingly enough always come in a twin pack knows what to do: Usually the male will take the article back to the store upon the discovery of price reduction and will ask for a refund, as it was not the right article - or whatever excuse will do. The other half of the twin pack super special swapper shopper - (usually the female) will then merrily enter the store to buy the same item at the reduced price. (A real story, I might add, saving $15.00). - Wollfgang, Hastings. (Very sneaky! - oily rag ed.)


  • Shop for food fortnightly or monthly if you can.  The more often you shop, the more you'll spend because of impulse buying! - OB1NZ, Auckland

  • Never shop for food when you are hungry - have a meal first, then off to the supermarket! - OB1NZ, Auckland

  • Go to the supermarket first thing in the morning and get some real bargains at the deli section. there are often things, being close to their 'use by date', at less than half the normal price. I often manage to get Champagne ham or other really expensive stuff for a fraction of the normal cost and have a wonderful, luxurious lunch! Same goes for the meat section. - BuzzyBee, Waiheke Island.

  • Don't go shopping on an empty stomach. Make a list of the meals you will eat during the week and the ingredients needed for these. Only go down the aisles you need to go down. Make sure you compare value for money- not simply on what is cheapest but look at volumes etc. A smaller can may be cheaper, but a larger can may make two meals...If on a very tight budget take a calculator so you stick to it (or use supermarkets like Pak'N Save which have shop'n go). - T.B., Palmerston North.

  • Go food shopping about half an hour before the supermarket is due to close. You can pick up things like cooked chickens for half price and use them for lunches during the week. There are a lot of cut priced items on sale because the store can't sell them the next day. - M.K. Australia.


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