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How to Save Money on Food and Groceries in Australia

As an international student in Australia, grocery shopping and eating out can be expensive. However, there are strategies to budget and save without sacrificing quality!

Reducing your grocery bill can help free up cash to spend on exploring your new home, travelling or going out with friends. Here’s our helpful guide on how to save money on groceries.

Make the most of discount grocery shopping

In Australia, ALDI, Coles and Woolworths are the largest grocery chains. 

Research shows that ALDI is cheaper compared to Coles and Woolworths. ALDI has over 590 stores and operates in every state and territory in Australia except for the Northern Territory and Tasmania. So, depending on where you are studying, you may be able to visit this chain for your weekly shops to save some cash.

It’s important to mention that ALDI supplies fewer Australian-produced products than some other chains. If you are environmentally conscious, local independent greengrocers, butchers and bakeries may be more sustainable options, although they may be more expensive

Costco is another great option for saving money on groceries. The chain has stores located in NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and ACT. The concept behind Costco is to “buy in bulk” to save money. For long-life foods, frozen foods, staples, toiletries, cleaning supplies and more, buying in bulk can save you money in the long run, rather than buying items individually for a higher unit price. 

Hypothetically, you might pay *$3.50 for 200g of rice at your local supermarket, while Costco sells 5kg for $10. This means you are actually saving money, paying $0.20 per 100g at Costco and $1.25 per 100g at your local Woolworths or Coles. 

Individual Costco memberships start at $65 per year and even give you access to the brand’s petrol stations, allowing for great savings on more than just food. You could even share the membership with housemates, so you can buy pantry staples/milk/bread in bulk and share the cost. 

Shop at the right time

Showing up at the supermarket or fresh food markets at the very beginning or end of the day, particularly on a Friday, can make a huge difference to your spending.

Stores want to get rid of perishable items (like meat or bakery items) at the beginning or end of the day. This means that they often put out a ‘reduced’ section in the bakery, one in the chilled section, and sometimes one in the fruit and vegetable section.

If you really want to go out to eat, remember that many places have cheap days or ‘meal deals’ for students. Local pubs also usually have meal deals and specials on specific days of the week.

Leverage food discount apps

Another great strategy to save money on your food bill each week is to take advantage of food discount apps. You can find great deals on groceries, takeaway chains, restaurants and more. Some of our favourites include: 

Groupon: Provides a range of discounts on restaurants and bars, cafés, groceries and markets, as well as breweries.

Student Edge: Discover discounts on a variety of classic student go-to takeaway chains like Domino’s, McDonald’s and more. 

EatClub: Score discounts and last-minute deals on restaurants and bars across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia. 

Frugl Grocery: A free app for iOS and Android that keeps you updated with the best grocery prices every week from Coles, ALDI, Woolworths, IGA and more. Create lists of regular pantry items you usually buy, and Frugl will tell you the best retail prices.

Opt for frozen produce

Another simple way to save money on your food bill is to opt for frozen food. Frozen fruits – like berries, mango, banana or pineapple – and vegetables –  like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and peas – will last much longer. Not only will this help you save money but it will help you cut down on food waste that can often occur when fruit goes off sitting in your cupboard or in the fridge. 

Take advantage of loyalty programs

Most supermarket chains and even certain local stores offer loyalty and rewards programs. By signing up, you can accumulate points and receive discounts down the track. 

Programs like Everyday Rewards (Woolworths) and Flybuys (Coles) can help you save money on groceries. For instance, for every 2,000 Everyday Rewards points you earn, you get a $10 credit you can use on your next shop. 

Similarly, ALDI has its own app for daily deals and discounts to help you buy groceries when they go on sale. 

Read more: Where You Can Seek Support if You Can’t Afford Food or Groceries

*All prices are in AUD and are correct at the time of publication.