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New ways to save money: Smart swaps

piggy bank and piles of coins

Making simple swaps when it comes to food items and the ways to use them will save time – and money.

  • Reconsider packaged produce
    Chopped lettuce goes off much faster, and even though a jar of minced garlic is more convenient than the fresh version, you’ll need twice as much to get the same flavour.
    – 250g jar minced garlic $2.59
    – Fresh garlic 230g bag $3.99
    SAVE $1.19
  • Replace chips with potatoes
    Did you know that a family-sized bag of potato chips only contains about one large potato? An average Desiree potato weighs 210g. Try chopping up some wedges and baking them with a sprinkling of paprika or any other spice or herb to enjoy a healthier, more filling snack that’s just as tasty – and a whole lot cheaper.
    – 150g potato chips $2
    – 150g potato $0.44
    SAVE $1.56
  • Swap ‘diet’ for normal
    Studies have shown that people eat more when their food is ‘light’ or ‘diet’. Apart from defeating the original purpose of kilojoule/calorie-cutting, you’ll run out of food faster! Swap the specialty foods for the ‘normal’ versions and learn to watch portion size. Portion control has been found to be the most effective behavioural technique for weight loss.
    – 6pk Weight Watchers Apple Crumble bar $5
    – 6pk Nice & Natural bar $3
    SAVE $2
  • Try frozen banana
    Banana is sumptuously creamy when frozen. Just peel, cover with plastic wrap, and pop it in the freezer, then leave until hard. Chop and sprinkle with cinnamon, a dollop of frozen yoghurt or some grated dark chocolate for a cheap dessert.
    – 4 x ice cream serves $6
    – 4 bananas $1.49
    SAVE $4.50

Reader tips:

  • “I use a potato peeler instead of a knife to slice slivers of cheese. Using cheese with a robust flavour such as parmesan or cheddar will give a strong flavour using just a little of this expensive ingredient.” – Becky
  • “Our family enjoys lasagne with a cheesy sauce but with cheese being so expensive, it’s getting costly. A teaspoon of  mustard powder added to the sauce, however, gives a really cheesy flavour, allowing me to substantially cut the amount of cheese I need.” – Judith
  • “Fill an ice cube tray with milk and freeze in ziplock bags. You’ll always have milk for tea or coffee.” – Bernadette
  • “It’s easy to buy the same things every week, and go around the supermarket on ‘auto pilot’. I’ve found when I snap out of the ‘zone’ and notice the specials and everyday cheaper items, I spend less and end up trying new things.” – Sue
  • “Encourage your children to be responsible for what they save. My daughters (10,12 and 14) have to cook one evening meal a week and make their own lunches. If they can prepare a family meal for less than $5 per person, they get to keep the difference. It doesn’t save me any money, but it goes into their bank accounts instead of the supermarket’s, and it  teaches them to be economical.” – Sarah
  • “Instead of buying expensive household cleaners, I buy two litres of white vinegar when it’s on special and use it to make my own, cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, chemical-free cleaner.” – Jackie

Household: “I live with my partner Karl and our two cats.”

Weekly grocery spend: $120. “We take our lunch nearly every day to work so that is included in our spend.”

Danielle’s top tips

  • “Store all your dried goods in plastic containers. It keeps your pantry neater, you can see what you have and don’t buy extra by accident, and it keeps the items much fresher and stops weevils and other insects getting in.”
  • “Review the weekly circulars for supermarkets.Write down any specials you want to buy. Because my local circulars advertising specials for the following week arrive on Saturday morning, and I do my weekly shop that afternoon, I take note of any item I’m after and unless I desperately need it, I’ll wait until my next shop when the special comes into effect to buy it.”
  • “Freeze! If your herb plants aren’t up to picking yet and you need to buy some ready-cut herbs, freeze what you don’t use. I freeze herbs such as thyme, parsley, sage and coriander.”
  • “Save some money for those times when you see a really good deal. You can then buy items in bulk to take advantage of any great deals – such as when your favourite wine is half price.”

Date modified: 14 September 2021
First published: Feb 2009


Shopping list saved to go to meal plans