Kiwi mum shares how she spends maximum $120 on her weekly grocery bill for her family of four

Times are tough in the wake of COVID-19, so one Tauranga mother is sharing her top tips for saving money on your weekly grocery bill ...

Buy seasonal veggies, buy bakery products after dark and look for the clearance items.

Chanchal Saraswat has a weekly budget of $100 to $120 to feed her family of four - her husband and two children, aged 4 and 8, plus two small dogs.

Saraswat shops weekly but always does her research first.

"I shop around," she said. "I go online to find what I can get and what is cheap."

It means she may visit more than one supermarket, local veggie mart or Four Square each time she shops - but it saves her money in the long run.

"I make a list of what I can get cheap at what stores so I don't waste time," she said.

If it is a few cents cheaper at another store she won't bother but if it is a dollar price difference she will.

Saraswat has been doing this for 11 years "and it works".

"It saves us so much money. Initially, it did take me a while to get used to but once you get into the habit of it it's easy.

"For the first few weeks it might be tricky but once you have nailed it the money you save is huge, especially if you calculate it at the end of the year. You might have saved enough for a trip or a bigger Christmas gift for your children."

Now she knows what to buy and when to buy it so she can stick to a budget.

"You start seeing a pattern. You get to know what is always cheaper, where and on what days."

And if something is $20 cheaper at another supermarket, Saraswat said why wouldn't she shop elsewhere to get the bargain?

"My mum used to say every dollar counts, so every dollar I save is good."

On her grocery list is usually seasonal vegetables and she buys in bulk to take advantage of specials.

When buying vegetables like potatoes and carrots she will cut them in different ways for different meals to make them go further.

"By wintertime, I have a large variety of veggies that I have bought earlier when they were in season and that I have put in the freezer."

Saraswat said she would sometimes shop after 6pm when bakery items were cheaper at the end of the day.

"That is helpful to go in school lunches."

Sandwiches are a typical lunch meal along with fresh fruit and home-made muffins and scones, which the children help make in the weekends and can be put in the freezer for later.

She also makes roti - flatbread - and jazzes up cheap breakfast cereals with fresh fruit and honey.

Afternoon tea is crackers and chopped up celery, cucumber and carrot and if the children want smoothies or juice they make their own out of fresh fruit.

"There is no fizzy in our house."

Saraswat's advice to others is to "plan before you buy".

"Use your money wisely. Cater to your needs at this point in time rather than what you want. Your needs are more important."

Chanchal Saraswat top tips:

1. Shop for your needs not wants. Buy home brands as much as possible.
2. No, juices, fizzy drinks buy healthy fruits and veggies and make your own drinks.
3. Plan your week's meal before buying.
4. Check the price online before buying.
5. Look for clearance stuff.
6. Buy bakery products after 6pm, you will get heaps of deals.
7. Buy veggies in season when they are cheap and freeze them for future use (they stay for 6 months in the freezer), label with date.

This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.