How you can halve your grocery bill
GROCERIES take a fair bite out of the family budget, but changing where you shop, and how often, can slash the cost of your supermarket bill.
Saved by Michelle shopped around and found smaller independent supermarkets and discount stores are giving the big grocery giants a run for their money, selling some pantry staples for 50 to 70 per cent cheaper.
Their pitch to shoppers is to stock items that are close to their use-by date; are discontinued lines or just didn't sell that well elsewhere.
You won't be able to get everything you need - but what you can get is super cheap.
The Golden Circle Factory Outlet at Morayfield and Capalaba doesn't just sell Golden Circle products but big-name brands like Cadbury, Kellogg's, McCain's, Arnott's and SPC.
Owner Mick Corby says a previous price comparison on a basket of goods showed that those bought from his shops cost 50 per cent less.
That might be a little less if you're a fanatical specials' watcher but then Mick says he also has "specials."
"We run 10 products on special for two weeks every fortnight, starting on Wednesday morning," he says. "The first Tuesday of every month is also pensioner's day. If you have a Government-issued pension card you will receive an extra 10 per cent off your bill."
If you have a big family then there are extra savings in buying in bulk.
"A fair range of our products are cheaper by the carton. For example we are selling Golden Circle Pineapple Juice poppers 6x250ml for $1.50 per six-pack but if you buy a carton of four six-packs it only costs $5 which is a saving of just over 15 per cent."
And mark May 6 in your diary. That's when the Golden Circle Factory Outlet celebrates 10 years in business with heaps of birthday specials.
Debbie Hill who founded Lighthouse Care with her husband Ron knows what it's like to feed a hungry family - especially when their five boys were teenagers.
"It was always a challenge to keep healthy, nutritional food up to them. I remember them coming home from school and filling up on bottomless bowls of cereal, endless two minute noodles, loaves of bread, massive cans of Milo and gallons of milk.
"They were bottomless pits that could never be filled."
The two Lighthouse Care supermarkets at Loganholme and Hillcrest (which starts opening Saturdays from March 17) stock 1000 grocery items at between 50 and 70 per cent cheaper than big supermarkets.
But if you are really struggling there is its famous $25 trolley.
"It contains around $160 - $200 of food for our bargain price. It is the very best value we can provide for families on a tight budget," Debbie says.
But if you are going to the local supermarkets she says try and work out when they mark down their meat and bread.
"I remember shopping with our boys on a Tuesday night at 8.30. It was the time the local supermarket marked down the prices of their meat and we would stock up and load the freezer."
And then there's Silly Solly's where nothing costs more than $5.
Director Steve Watchman says buying in bulk may not be such a great saver. "People sometimes buy bulk stock in food and groceries as they think they're saving money, however, when they do see clearance or short-dated items that we specialise in, they can't buy them as they have cupboards full of them.
"It's false economy, and better to look around for specials, and buy smaller, but more frequently."
Family-owned, no-frills Fresh & Save (with stores at Beerwah, Deagon, Eagleby, Morayfield and Maryborough and two more opening this year) is the exception.
Rather than close to due-date goods, operations manager Ben Prince says its about buying up big from their suppliers to get a low price from local suppliers.
"We also do not run any catalogues or loyalty schemes, instead choosing to invest what we would spend on price to keep our customers' money in their pocket," he says.