Skip to main content

Cash-strapped? YEI looks at how we can save on the food-front

By March 11, 2015December 8th, 202210 Comments

food savings.jpg

We are being squeezed for every cent of our hard-earned money.   Food price increases are significantly higher than the rate of inflation.

Five years ago, one could go to your local supermarket and walk away with a trolley full of food that cost in the region of R450.  Nowadays, R450 equates to about two bags of groceries.

The new ever-increasing trend is frugal living.  It’s gaining popularity across the world.

Let’s look at realistic and creative ways in which we can cull our food bill and stretch that ever-decreasing household budget –

Make, don’t buy
Do away with “fast and rubbish food and drink” – e.g. that pie and can of Coke for lunch.  Make your own healthy lunch – salad and jacket potato or a Low GI sandwich and a glass of water, and enjoy substantial savings and better health over time.

Become price-savvy
Always compare prices.    The “Big Four” supermarkets are constantly waging price-wars on similar products.  And look at the house brands – more often than not, the price of house brands will be lower than branded products (unless there is a promotion on the branded product).  And house brands are not normally inferior products.   If you come across a good promotion on a non-perishable item, it‘s worth stocking up.  And check the prices of big packs vs small packs i.e. the price per kilogram.  Sometimes it is cheaper to buy the smaller pack.

Make your list and stick to it
Don’t buy items you don’t need, unless they are on promotion (and it’s a product you use regularly).  Think of shopping as a challenge – if you leave with only what is on your list – you have won the challenge!  And remember not to go shopping hungry – worst possible thing to do!

Sometimes quality is worth paying more for
Cheaper products sometimes don’t work as well as effective brands.  For example – dishwashing liquid, where you can land up using much much more.   I buy a “Golden Products” washing powder – an excellent product that costs over R200. It is very cost-effective, as it lasts for well over six months.

Grow your own
There’s nothing like picking your own lettuce leaves and baby tomatoes for your salad each evening.   The taste is completely different, and the self-satisfaction is tangible.  Whether you have a few pots on a balcony or a small or big veggie garden, having fresh veg and herbs on hand will save you a substantial amount of money.  Over the last month, I have not bought lettuce  or baby tomatoes – I have been picking them from my own pots in the back garden.  I reckon I have saved at least R200 in one month.

Make a concerted effort to save on your grocery bill
Shave 10% off your grocery bill each month, and put the money into a tin or money market account.  You will be pleasantly surprised that these savings add up to a substantial amount very quickly.

Have one or two meat-free days a week
Other than the obvious health-benefits, tasty vegetarian meals can be whipped up quickly and most economically.

Have a “fridge day”
Get creative and turn all those leftovers in the fridge into delicious meals.  Reduce your waste and boost your savings.

Become a less regular shopper
Research shows that the more often we shop, the more we spend on unplanned purchases – up to 54% more merchandise than we had planned!  If you are a once-a-week shopper, try and not shop for one week out of four.  You’ll be amazed at how you can “make do” with items in the pantry, fridge and freezer and think of the rands that you will save.

Buy unpackaged food
Packaged items are more often than not more expensive.   Test this theory yourself e.g. choose red, yellow and green peppers and then compare the price to their packaged counterparts.

And last, but certainly not least
Check out what day your local supermarket offers a pensioner discount.  Every little bit helps.

We have several retailers featured in the Discounts and Benefits directory of the YEI website.  If your local supermarket offers a pensioner discount and is not listed in the directory, do let us know the name and suburb and we will follow this up for the benefit of other YEI members.

Here are YEI’s “Pick of the month” food retailers who offer either pensioner discounts or products at a much reduced rate:

Impala Fruit and Veg, Northcliff, Johannesburg

Dairy and Bakery, Milnerton, Cape Town

Do you have any tips on how to save money on the food-front?


  • Ernie Gay says:

    When I was hard up I lived on eggs and beans on toast. I still have them once or twice a week. I enjoy a good meal for under R10.

    • Marilynh says:

      Beans fall within two food groups – carbohydrates and vegetables, so you are in fact eating a very balanced meal here, which is great and cheap!
      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Petrus van der Westhuizen says:

    I fin it very strange the no national supermarkets and food stores in Port Elizabeth offer pensioners discounts. Is this the case all over the country?

    • Marilyn says:

      Dear Petrus
      Some of the franchised supermarkets offer pensioner discounts, and YEI has many featured on its website in the Discounts and benefits directory (see lefthand side of YEI homepage). What would be ideal would be if the entire brand offered discounts to pensioners, and YEI is trying to liaise with PnP in this regard.
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Thea Weyers says:

    In Brackenfell, Cape Town, the P&P Hypermarket offers discount coupons for pensioners, and the Cape Gate Spar gives a 5% discount on all groceries, when buying with a special card issued to pensioners.

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Thea

      Thank you for this information. YEI is following up on these two leads.

      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Dianne Kennett says:

    To Petrus van der Westhuizen who commented that no PE stores give pensioner discounts, The Gardens P&P @ Lorraine give 5%discount on Thursdays and Spar give Discounts during mornings only. Just chat to your local Spar!

    • Marilynh says:

      Dear Dianne

      Thank you for this information. YEI is following up on these two leads.

      Kind regards
      Marilyn, YEI Editor

  • Jilly Chiappini says:

    Excellent article and good to be reminded not to go to the supermarket when hungry .. I’ve done this countless times and walked out with very nearly double the items on the list! I find making my own chunky soups very cost effective .. there are 30 bakkies in the freezer right now!

  • LINDA sAWDON says:

    So true all above comments – don t go to store without your list – dont go when hungry. We all buy so much we dont need and it expires, I have become more savvy since Ive retired. Also find so many stores give specials on buying double or triple amounts, not always best for us singles.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.