Shove your shopping trolley to one side, shoppers, thrifty is getting nifty.

After traipsing around grocery aisles in search for those elusive bargains for many a year, the tables are finally being turned on supermarket titans through a combination of more wily buying and relying on smartphone smarts.

Saved By Michelle has rounded up some ripper tips to make sure you, the customer, is always right on the money.

Hit up eBay or Amazon

Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, says you'll find most Coles products - bar the cold stuff - available on eBay, and if you sign up, you'll score yourself free delivery and returns.

"If you have the storage to buy in bulk, head to Amazon," she says. "This retailer also offers a subscription service for groceries with an ongoing discount, which can be cheaper than the big retailers."

Read the price tickets

Saved By Michelle has lost track of how many times Ian Jarratt from the Queensland Consumers' Association has told us to use unit pricing to save money. Unit pricing - the cost per kilo or litre of a product - is printed on the shelf below, and it is the only way to not get hoodwinked by packaging that makes you think you're getting more than you are.

Size is important

Different supermarkets can sometimes sell different sized packages or bottles of the same product. The supermarkets hope you won't notice the different size, just the cheaper price - which can work out dearer per litre, or kilogram.

Look for the specials

Frugl - a nifty smartphone application available via the App Store or Google Play - lets you nimbly compare prices between Woolworths and Coles and guide you to the better contender in real time. It even works for fruit and vegetables. Remember, though, that supermarkets tend to put out their keenest specials after the stores close on Tuesdays. Kate Browne says promotions tend to come in cycles. "If it's 'off-promotion', wait, or use a price-tracking site," she says. "Download a grocery budgeting app, such as Half Price or Grocereaze, to help you save both time and money.

Not every special is special

You are in a hurry, and the price label claims the cereal is on-sale. So it has to be a good buy, surely? Not always. Some so-called "specials" are just a few cents off the recommended retail mark and you may be better off waiting another week or two.

Independent greengrocers may have cheaper fruit and veggies than the supermarket.
Independent greengrocers may have cheaper fruit and veggies than the supermarket.


Think outside the supermarket

The other day Saved By Michelle did some price comparison shopping at Chermside, between a fruit and veggie outlet near the entrance to Coles. Our takeaway: Numerous offerings at the greengrocer were way cheaper. For example, celery and beetroot rang up a buck less; butternut pumpkin was half the supermarket's price and there was a 90 cents-a-kilo saving on broccoli and sweet gold potatoes. A few more steps further on revealed that the adjacent Asian supermarket sold shallots and Asian-style greens for half both the supermarket's and the greengrocer's asking price.

Check your receipts

Most supermarkets have signed up to a barcode-scanning "code of conduct" which basically insists that if the item you're buying scans at a higher price than the one listed on the shelf, or the one advertised, you get it free; if you have bought more than one item, the remaining items are then sold to you at the cheaper price.

Stop being loyal

According to a Finder survey, Woolies is the chain that pulls in every second Australian shopper (45 per cent) - whether virtually or in person.

Coles was in second spot with no fewer than one in every three grocery customers (35 per cent) preferring to go where supposedly "good things are happening".

Woolies is evidently particularly favoured in the Sunshine State with more than half (52 per cent) of those surveyed preferencing the so-called "Fresh Food People".

"But, if you want to save money on your groceries, drop your supermarket loyalties," our expert, Kate, wants Saved By Michelle readers to know.

"Coles and Woolworths will offer different deals and exclusive discounts so check out the online catalogues before you buy."

Originally published as Handy hacks that will save your grocery cash



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