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Downgraded to junk status means so many things.  Petrol prices will rice due to a weaker rand.  The cost of food will automatically rise due to the increase in the petrol cost.  The knock-on effect of a weaker rand means higher transport costs.  Higher transport costs mean an increase in the price of food, imported goods and anything you buy at a shop.   If the rand goes into freefall, inflation will rise.  What does that mean?  Food prices and the petrol price will rise.   We just can’t win.  Whichever way we turn, food prices are going to rise. 

So let’s look at changing some shopping habits, which could benefit us in the long-term. 

The bottom line is that we need to spend less where we can, so how can we shop smarter, and save money on groceries?

Inventory time – monthly

Once a month, do an inventory of your grocery cupboard and freezer.  Get a good idea of what you already have in stock, and then plan your meals around what you have. 

Inventory time – daily

Research shows that we typically throw away around a quarter of the groceries we buy.  We might as well throw away that money.  Check your fridge daily, and your grocery cupboard regularly, for items that might be ready to expire.  Then plan your meals around those items so that you don’t throw your hard-earned pension away, and shop unnecessarily. 

Great supermarket deals

When you are at the point where you don’t have stock in the pantry that needs to be used, check out the supermarket deals before you go shopping.  Then plan your meals around what is on sale

Keep a beady eye on the cashier and the items that are being rung up

First of all, you need to know your prices.  There is an art to taking items out of the trolley, keeping a check on the price as the item is rung up on the till, and then at the end, checking your change.   This art can easily be mastered!   Mistakes can be made, and the wrong price could be on the item – if you are vigilant, you can check this at the time so that you are not overcharged. 

Regrettably, we live in a country where you have to keep an eye on the cashier as well.  I had a personal experience the other day, where I noticed that the cashier gave me R5 less in change.  Without going into detail, I knew that this was a deliberate mistake.  I pointed the “mistake” out to the cashier, and she immediately gave me the R5 change.  I did report this to the Manager of the supermarket and by his response, I knew that this was not the first time that this had happened.  This supermarket is in close vicinity to several old-age homes and a retirement village, so guess who shops at that particular supermarket regularly.  Pay attention at all times!


Ditch the pre-washed and pre-cut!

I know it makes it easy to buy pre-washed lettuce and pre-cut veggies or fruit, but my word, you are paying a premium.  Allow yourself time to wash that lettuce, trim it and place it in three or four zip-lock bags.  Bobs your uncle – you immediately have pre-washed and clean lettuce at a third of the price!   You can’t pre-cut veggies and fruit, but if you allow yourself time when prepping a meal to prepare them accordingly, you can indulge in a little self-satisfaction, knowing that you saved a chunk of change!

Start a mini-herb garden and save a small fortune!

If you are a fan of fresh herbs in your food, consider starting a small herb garden at home.  If you are on your own, then consider buying a punnet of your favourite five or six herbs, and sharing the punnet with friends, so you can all have one big pot of a variety of herbs.   Fresh herbs are not cheap at the supermarket – convenient, yes, cheap – no.  Your own mini-herb garden will last for longer as well!

Bulk it up

If that pack of mince is going to last you and your partner for two meals, considering bulking it up either with canned or dried beans or soya mince.  Stretch that mince to last three meal times for two of you!  Little changes like this can add up to significant savings in the long run. 

Be a seasonal shopper

Eating produce that is in season is going to save you a fortune.  Plus it will taste heaps better!  Cook the produce and freeze it for that out-of-season treat!

And lastly, leave the grandchildren at home!

You know you are going to spoil them, so if you are trying to stick to a minimal budget, then both you and they will be happier if they are playing with their toys at home!


YEI readers – do share your hints and tips on how you save when shopping –
with us in the comments section below –
for the benefit of other seniors, pensioners and retirees. 


  • Linda Joosten says:

    Such good tips , I have already started to eat only fresh vegetables and smaller amount of meat. It is possible to remain healthy on less .. keep sending those discounts 🙂

  • Michael says:

    At least one in three visits to major supermarkets results in incorrect price being charged. Always read your slip right after check out and write down prices of specials bought as this the area most overcharges take place. Fortunately in my experience short changing is rare but hard times are here and people are in debt.

  • Ginny du Toit says:

    I am quite shocked at the comment “typically we throw away about a quarter” ! Truly? I have almost zero wastage – use my leftovers in some form or another (sometimes a bit of a mix,!).

    A hint to using mince – for years I have bulked it up with either oats or fresh breadcrumbs. A couple of tablespoons added before the seasonings while cooking makes it go much further and you won’t even notice the difference.

    A chuckle – if you shop less frequently you peripherise less frequently which ultimately saves you money!

    Thanks for the many interesting articles.

    • Marilynh says:

      Quite right, Ginny. We need to utilise those leftover veggies and fruit – whether we throw it into a soup or stew, and stew the fruit before it goes off. We all need to aim at zero wastage when it comes to food. Thanks for the tips! YEI

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