The supermarket can be a minefield with both the products and the supermarkets themselves using ploys to get you to part with your money. So I thought I’d kick off a series where ideas for saving money can be shared. With some help from a couple of our Twitter followers, I’ve put together the first three tips. I’m hoping you’ll jump on board by sending through your own money-saving ideas to be shared.

1. Specials that aren’t that special

Before reaching for a product on special, it pays to check how much you’re really saving. Chris Chang kindly tweeted us a pic, showing a block of cheese with a whopping 1 cent off the price.

Fellow tweeter Greg Stubbings one-upped Chris though. He found some hay fever tablets on special for $3.99, all the way down from $3.99.

While we hope these two cases of non-special specials are good old human error, it just shows how easy it is to be fooled into thinking you’re getting a bargain if you don’t take the time to check.

2. Bigger - not always better

The big tub of honey or the little tub of honey – if the family is likely to get through it you may as well go for the big one, right?

The ‘buying in bulk saves money’ message is one many of us have come to believe, but a quick look down the spreads aisle is all you need to see it’s not always the case.

The 500g tub of Arataki honey was $5.99 so you’d expect the 1kg (at twice the weight) to be less than $12 (twice the price) and therefore cheaper. But the 1kg tub was priced at $14.15.

This is where unit pricing is your friend. Take the nearby vegemite. The 220g jar is $3.79 and checking out the unit price shows you’ll be paying $1.72 for each 100g. The 400g jar is $7.47 and the unit price shows you’ll be paying $1.87 for each 100g.

So even if the family is likely to eventually get through the bigger tub, you’re better off buying the smaller one.

For more info on unit pricing, check out Consumer’s report.

3. Say no to the sachet and save

Box 1: 340g (10 sachets) for $4.99

Box 2: 575g for $3.19

Two boxes of oats. Both have an ingredients list with the same single ingredient: 100% Wholegrain Rolled Oats. So which do you go for?

If you buy Box 1 you’ll get 10 sachets, each containing 34g. But Box 2 contains the equivalent of about 17 sachets and you’ll pay $1.80 less for it at the checkout.

Sure, you might need to buy a scoop and you’ll be waiting at the microwave for an extra 60 seconds because they’re not as finely cut. But you can spend that time dwelling on how you have a week of extra breakfasts up your sleeve by saying no to sachets.

You can send us your tips for saving money at the supermarket or funny things you may have seen while shopping the aisles, by email or using Facebook or Twitter.

by Kate Newton, Consumer NZ's head of online content