Stretch your grocery budget with these tips that expats actually use.
Not literally, of course. Keep an eye out for discounts and special promotions, buy in bulk when prices are low, and freeze what you don’t use immediately.
“We often buy a whole salmon from Tekka Market or Giant grocery store, then cut it into fillets,” shares British expat Peta, a mother of four.
NEXT: Use it all →
Plus, Peta shares, “our helper uses the head and bones to make stock.”
It’s more cost-effective to freeze leftovers or about-to-turn items, than to throw them away. Australian mother of three Susanne suggests freezing items such as stale bread (for breadcrumbs), overripe fruit (for use in baking or smoothies), unused herbs and bones (for stock) plus leftovers like pasta sauces, curries and roast meats.
NEXT: Set a budget →
Record your grocery expenses over a month to identify the biggest expenditures. (Tip: Ask your helper to collect receipts for every item she buys for the household.) Then, set a target amount for the monthly household spend.
Kate, an American expat and mother of one, says she does: “I used to do the weekly shopping myself, so I knew the cost of our regular items. From that, I was able to set a firm weekly limit to give my helper. Anything extra is only in extraordinary circumstances, like if we have house guests or host a party.” (Check out where to find the cheapest party supplies!)
NEXT: Enlist your helper’s help →
If your helper has been in Singapore for a long time, she may have tips of her own on where to shop.
British expat Peta notes, “We got our helper soon after we had arrived in Singapore. She’s worked here for over 15 years, so she introduced us to NTUC FairPrice and the Empress Road wet market. We’d been doing all our shopping at Cold Storage and stressing about the prices of everything.”
NEXT: Get your haggle on →
Wet markets offer a greater variety of fresh produce and tend to have cheaper prices than most supermarkets, too. There are dozens across Singapore; some of the largest are the Tekka Market in Little India, Tiong Bahru Wet Market and Chinatown Wet Market. Try haggling – if you’re buying a lot of items, ask for a discount. Also, wear closed-toed shoes (they’re called wet markets for a reason!).
NEXT: Outsmart the supermart →
One important thing to know: Cold Storage, Marketplace and Giant are all owned by the same company – and share a supply chain. So their prices tend to be similar as compared to other supermarkets. Last we checked, for instance, Australian broccoli was $12.90 per kilogramme at Cold Storage and just $7.90 at Giant.
NEXT: Stick to a list →
Experts agree that one of the key ways to save money on food is to make a detailed menu plan for the week, and buy only what you need for those meals.
An alternative to a meal plan: Give your helper general guidelines such as one pasta dish, one fish, one soup, one red meat, one vegetarian and one chicken dish per week. “With both my husband and I working fairly demanding jobs, I fi nd it too hard to plan ahead for a full week’s worth of meals,” confesses Kate. “I’ve given my helper about 30 recipes that we like, and she chooses what fits into that week’s budget.”
NEXT: Go digital →
In addition, many expats recommend doing the bulk of your shopping online.
“Online shopping saves time and, because we don’t have a car, it saves on taxi fare, too,” says Susanne. “I like RedMart, as it has a good variety of items and the produce is generally fresh.” A great tip: RedMart allows you to filter your regular shopping list by items that are on sale.
NEXT: Check out specialty stores →
QB Foods (www.qbfood.com.sg) and Foodie Market Place specialise in imported meats, cheeses and more. And many expats and Singaporeans swear that the two brands offer the cheapest, best meat on the island.
Meanwhile, Open Taste sells organic fruits and vegetables at “wholesale prices” and offers free delivery.
NEXT: Freeze your assets →
By Karola Clark, The Finder (Issue 281), April 2017
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