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23 September 2014

Save at the supermarket II

Bulk or packaged? Fresh or frozen?

Recently we kicked off a series on ways you can save money at the supermarket. Thanks to those who have been sharing photos of not-so-special specials on our Facebook page and Twitter in response.

This instalment is all about questioning those preconceptions you might have when you do the grocery shopping.

1. Bulk – a hassle worth having?

If you’re counting the pennies you may reach for the scoop when you need to stock up on some nuts or dried fruit. But have you ever questioned if bagging the product yourself is really a saving? I compared the price of some loose Turkish dried apricots with the packaged versions and was surprised. There were quite a few small packets of dried apricots that worked out cheaper per 100g than buying from the bulk section.

Bulk: $1.89/100g | Tasti dried apricots: $3.69/200g = $1.85/100g | Countdown dried apricots $5.99/500g = $1.20/100g

Just to make sure it wasn’t an apricot anomaly I also compared Brazil nut prices

Bulk: $3.99/100g | Tasti brazil nuts: $2.19/70g = $3.13/100g

2. In favour of frozen

Frozen vegies have a lot going for them – you don’t have to wash them, don’t have to chop them and plenty of studies say they are more nutritious than the fresh version because they’re packaged so quickly after harvest.

Frozen vegies, despite being packaged, can also be cheaper than buying fresh – especially when the veg isn’t in season.

At my local Countdown last night, fresh green beans imported from Aussie were $2.99 for a 250g bag. In the freezer section, the 1kg bag of McCain sliced beans was on special for $4.30 – considerably cheaper than the fresh option. Even at the normal retail price of $5.35 the frozen beans were still considerably cheaper than fresh.

There’s another added bonus of buying frozen – if you don’t get round to making that meal you planned to use them in they won’t wither in your fridge’s vegie drawer and be a waste.

3. House brands – give them a chance

Ok, some house brand products just don’t compare to those from name brands. But when there’s only one ingredient in a product and you have no sense of loyalty to a particular brand you’d be crazy to go past the house option.

The difference between the house brand and name brand when it comes to 1kg of flour can be nearly $2 and both packs contain the same single ingredient. If you’re buying a few baking ingredients the savings add up.

A couple of years back, Consumer found you could save $31 on a basket of 20 basic items at New World if you stuck to house brands – a saving of 36 percent.

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

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