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How To Hack Your Grocery List To Save Money In South Africa

African couple checking prices in grocery isle to hack there grocery list

Do you feel like everything has gotten significantly more expensive over the past few years? You’re not alone, and you’re not wrong. Keeping up with the rising cost of goods can be challenging, but there is a way — hack your recurring and most frequent purchases, like your grocery list.

In this post we’ll share how to save money on groceries in South Africa with a list of cheap grocery list essentials and the best shop-for-less tips on the web.

Let’s get started, and let’s start saving.


Cheapest grocery list essentials

Okay, let’s start at the beginning. What are the essentials on every South African’s cheap grocery list items?

When the Covid -19 pandemic hit and we were thrust into a level 5 lockdown, queuing in lines to enter the grocery stores, not allowed to buy the ‘luxuries’,  we all learnt what was essential to our survival at home. This was a good practice round. Be sure to add these items to your grocery list to save money on groceries. 


Frozen vegetables

Frozen produce has some serious money-saving benefits. It can be up to 50% cheaper than fresh produce.Not to mention that this alternative lasts longer and is more affordable than fresh fruits and veggies.

Since frozen produce also has the benefit of being stored for weeks and sometimes months without spoiling, you lessen the risk of waste considerably and the cost of having to toss fresh items that have gone bad before you had the chance to eat them.


Beans and other canned food

Beans are an amazing source of protein- and a cheaper alternative to traditional protein sources. Many foods have canned versions, such as:

  • Canned Tomatoes.
  • Tomato Paste.
  • Tomato Sauce.
  • Canned Vegetables.
  • Canned Beans (Black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans) 
  • Canned Corn or Peas.
  • Canned or Boxed Soup.
  • Canned Fruit.


Try swapping out some of your weekly pasta dishes for vegetarian alternatives that use beans instead of meat – here are a few vegetarian pasta recipes for anyone on a budget.

Did you know?

Canned vegetables are super affordable and sometimes even healthier than fresh vegetables. Picked at peak season for freshness which ensures the best flavour and nutrient quality. The vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and have no cholesterol.



Not only is rice inexpensive,  it also goes a long way and is extremely versatile. Here are 21 budget-friendly rice recipes all starring rice.



Just because we’re hacking our grocery lists and buying on a budget, does not mean that we cannot enjoy some decadence.  Pasta dishes are easy to make, filling and yummy. 

Reducing your monthly grocery spend with these alternatives can have a massive impact on your finances.

Without knowing it you are already implementing one of the key steps in our ultimate strategy for saving more money in South Africa —”Maximise your savings by reducing expenses”.

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7 easy ways to save money on groceries in South Africa

Aside from buying the cheapest version of the items on your monthly grocery list or eating less, try to implement these innovative ways to save on your groceries in South Africa. 


1. Meat free Mondays

Let’s be honest. It can be challenging to consider the healthy alternative when your budget is top of mind. This hack allows you to do that. Meat- less meals are good for you, good for the environment and good for your pocket. 

Remember the canned foods that we mentioned earlier? This is the perfect place to add a few of those cheaper grocery list items as alternatives.


2. Loyalty cards

Most retailers offer customers loyalty or rewards programmes which allow you to access discounts on items or collect points which can be used to pay for your items. These programmes are free so make sure you have a card for each store. You will be pleasantly surprised by the huge discount or amount of points a grocery trip can afford you. Here is a list of the top South Africa loyalty/ rewards programmes. 


3. Online shopping

With the exorbitant cost of fuel, it may actually be cheaper to pay the delivery fee on your online grocery store order. The online store eliminates the element of temptation and also forces you to plan – which brings us to our next hack…


4. Meal plans- buy only what you need!

When you plan your meals, you should know exactly what you need. 

Do a meal plan for the week. Write them down so you can hold yourself accountable. Write down the ingredients you need and tick off the ones you already have. The rest are the items you need to purchase – try to get them online to reduce temptations or spur-of-the-moment indulgence.

Knowing exactly what you need limits the chances of purchasing unnecessary items. 

Bonus tip: Make sure you never shop when you are hungry. 


5. Get to know your local grocery store

Most stores start marking down fresh produce at a certain time of the day.  Ask around at your local stores to find out if and when this happens then plan your grocery store trip around this.

Hint: Ask more than one clerk, don’t always accept the first “no” that you hear, asking more than one person increases your odds of getting a helpful answer.


6. Shop House or No-name Brands

House Brands or no-name brands tend to be the most affordable grocery items in the store. These products are usually manufactured in house, and don’t require additional marketing spend which allows the retailer to sell it at a cheaper price because of the lower cost to produce. 


7. Remember to bring your bags!

Did you know that most plastic bags cost at least 25 cents? It adds up. So invest in reusable bags. Reusable grocery bags are good for you, the environment and your pocket!

Write this list down, try each hack out, and continue to do what works for you. Implementing all of these tips can help you to save the money on groceries, and in fact, other areas of your life too, given that these habits will help shape how you spend money in other areas too.


Are you ready to start saving on your monthly groceries? 

Now that you are armed with some super helpful  and budget friendly tips to cut the costs on your grocery list, get going! Adjusting your budget is like riding a bike. It is difficult in the beginning but the more you practice (not too often) the better you will get and even develop some of your own hacks!

If you are struggling to keep up financially then it might also be a good idea to get help managing your debt.

Find out how debt review can help reduce your debt burdens and get by more comfortably in our guide: everything you need to know about debt review.


Good luck, we’re rooting for you!

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Disclaimer: This website and any information herein is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, financial, tax, legal, investment, credit, or other advice. Before making any decision or taking any action regarding your finances, you should consult a qualified professional directly.

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