Cost of living tips: Food

Just thought I'd share some of my money saving tips at the supermarket. Feel free to add your own.

First up, I try to get to the supermarket in the morning between 8:00 and 8:30ish. That's when the butcher's put out the, "Reduced for quick sale" meats. The stuff that has to be frozen or eaten that day. It's usually around 30% discount.

A deep freeze is not essential for this but it helps if you have one so you can stock up. If the item happens to be on special that week anyway, you can get a real bargain. I occasionally get a bunch of sirloin steaks for around $19/kg.


  • +7

    I read that coffee was going up in price. I like Moccona Medium roast. It's not cheap and the price has been going up and up. So I looked at Amazon Au. Got 4 x jars 400gm Moccona from there delivered for less than half the price of Nz. A years supply of coffee. Nice. Pays to shop around.

    • This is amazing! WFH life has meant our coffee usage has gone through the roof! Thank you!

  • +2

    Not supermarket related per se, but if you have a backyard (even a small one), you can grow your own veggies over summer. I've got frozen beans for winter, along with eating them all over summer; endless tomatoes (still), homemade tomato sauce, courgettes, beetroot.

    If no backyard, you could always grow some spinach or tomatoes in a pot on a balcony, or even at minimum, some herbs (the kitchen variety) on a windowsill.

    Sure, it may only save a few $$ here and there, but it all adds up. Seeds and soil are cheap, buying bagged spinach at the shop for $3 a pop, you can make your money back in the first harvest (let alone it being better for the environment).


    • +3

      I second this. Take advantage of the $5 off $5.01 spend at The Warehouse for new MarketClub signups and spend it on plants. I bought some cheap $3 silverbeet and it has been going bonkers on the back deck. Same with the $1 clearance lettuces I purchased.

      Even better if you can win a Cheapies monthly voucher and spend it on pots/soil at Mitre10.

    • +1

      I completely agree - our tomatoes have only just come off, they are fantastic value (if you like tomatoes!)

      Spinach is also great for salads in place of lettuce (which is okay too, but nowhere near as good value) - you just keep taking off the outer leaves, and new ones grow to replace them.

    • +2

      Excellent idea. If you have the space and the know how, growing your own food is far better than buying it. Chickens cost virtually nothing to keep and will produce fresh eggs constantly and when they stop, hello toast chicken 🐔

    • Some old or heavily populated suburban areas could have soil contamination issues (e.g. lead in old paint):

      Planning a vege garden? Get a free soil test to check for lead…

  • +11

    Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach - you are much more likely to put impulse buys in your trolley that you don’t need but felt the urge to get at the time.
    Also, take a list and only buy what is on it.

  • +2

    My local Pak n Save puts their bakery stuff out for clearance in the late afternoon. Everything will be 3 items for $4 - would normally be at least $20 if you get fancy bread or 12pk of grainy /cheese rolls or 6pk of scones! I put the extra in the freezer!

    • +2

      I've found it very cost effective to bake my own bread instead of buying. I do ciabatta for the freezer with my sourdough and make 8 big rolls for less than a dollar's worth off flour vs $7.98 at paknsave not on special. Granted I'm a good baker who enjoys doing it.

    • Where is this? Not a thing in any pak n save near me afaik

      Where discounted bakd goods is probably closer around 30-40% off, if that

      • +1

        Pak n Save in Porirua. The sign comes out around 6pm (excludes croissants and hot cross buns for some reason) Really popular with those in the know! Our local New World (Paremata) specials off their fresh cream items late afternoon as well - doughnuts, chocolate éclairs, etc - all normally $3 come down to $1!

        • So good of them. Ours (Auckland) probably just throw them out rather than discount them

          I wonder if there are laws where they have to donate unsold food to the needy

          • @justaddwater: They are not aloud to donate for health and safety reasons opened unsealed products.i would say you have alot being feed to pigs that they can no longer sell…I know it's pretty sad I'm sure the people on the street don't care about the package

          • +2

            @justaddwater: There are no laws in NZ to compel supermarkets to donate unsold items.
            Here is an article about it. It’s about 6 years old but still relevant.

            • @bigcheese: That's the first I've heard.There maybe no law but alot won't accept

              • @geardropper: My dad is retired and does volunteer work for a local Christchurch charity. He has assigned cafes that he goes to, a couple of days each week, to pick up unsold baked goods - they get donated. It's a brilliant idea

                • @Shaz: Naw man good on him well that's good to hear stuff is getting given away. I know someone who works for Goodman fielder and they have to bin all the wastage….and there's alot

  • +1

    Check your local Asian shops for interesting findings…

    Chinese: veges, rice, tofu
    Indian: spices, curry mixes, diary
    Korean/Japanese: drinks, cosmetics, sauces

    Usually the above items are cheaper than supermarkets; especially if found in the International section!

    • Indian for dried legumes and nuts as well

  • +1

    Next tip, eggs.
    Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet which makes them really filling. I prefer Otaika valley eggs but you can get a value tray from the supermarket for 30 cents an egg.
    If you can eat 20 eggs that's only $6 and will keep you full for hours and is only 1400 calories. That's about the same amount of calories in a Big Mac combo which costs more and if you eat one, you will likely be hungry again very soon.

  • +2

    If you have time try to plan out your meals for the week, make a list and do a quick check online to compare prices. Can save a few $$ here and there depending on what’s on special.

    I see the Warehouse has some decent grocery deals going on too, 5 bags of pasta for $5, and two jars of clover honey (450g) for $7. I remember them selling a block of butter for $5 as well, but not sure if that’s still available.

    These tips are more for making your food stretch a bit further:
    When you have excess/wilted veges or frozen vegetables, you can use it to make soup but you can also cook it until soft, blend it up and mix into cooked pasta/noodles. Doesn’t have to be tomato based, you can use stock powder or any other flavourings to season it. Can also add beans or lentils etc. Portion it out and freeze so you can have something quick and easy for a meal (just cook the pasta).

    When we have roast chicken or similar I always save the bones and chuck it in the freezer. Same with vege scraps or peels. When I have enough I put it all together and make stock/broth out of it. Portion it out and freeze to use in other meals.

    • I buy all my butter from the Warehouse, they haven't increased their price so the butter is always $5 where its $5.50 at the supermarket on a really good sale

  • There are a few FB groups on frugal living, frugal renovation, frugal etc, diy, also budgeting groups (people also share deals), then there are groups on food preservation (eg. dehydrating)

    These are all NZ based groups, have a look if you are interested.

  • Next tip.…

    I used to do this a lot when I was on an extra tight budget. I would eat a 425gm can of mackerel around midday and I'd be so full I wouldn't have to eat until the next day.
    $2 a day for food is pretty good when you're watching your pennies. I'll admit it's not very pleasant to eat but if I get SARS-CoV-2 and lose my sense of taste then I'll be doing this again.

    • +1

      They used to be around $1.99 on special, not they don't even have the Pams ones, and they are around $2.19 (Mt. Albert, Auckland), now….ahh inflation…haha

    • +4

      I used to buy 180g cans of sandwich Tuna in oil from The Warehouse in bulk when they had them on special for $1 back in the day, also their cans of tomatoes for $0.70c and 500g bags of dried pasta for $0.79c, I'd only use half a bag of pasta so around $2 all up for the meal, and what I'd do is I'd fry the tuna, add in some garlic or chili or other herbs, then add the tomato and simmer it on a low heat until it reduced down to a paste and then I'd toss it through the pasta, it was really filling with heaps of carbs and protein and would feed two of us easily.

      The Warehouse used to have such great grocery deals, now they're few and far between.

      • Just something to be aware of eating lots of tinned fish. Tuna is a great option, but day after day of it can actually be bad for you due to high mercury levels.

        Mackerel is a much smaller fish and the mercury levels much lower, like sardines too.

        • This is true. When it comes to fish, think SMASH.

  • +4

    I am not associated. Was scrolling Reddit and came across Grocer. Comparison app between NW, PNS and CD.


    Select your preferred stores.
    Scan a product barcode, or search for it.
    Grocer shows the prices across stores.
    Add products to your shopping list.
    Grocer plans out how to get the best deals.

    • This grocer app looks awesome! Just used it to search a few items!

    • Pretty good site.

      New website helps Kiwi shoppers compare prices across major supermarkets…

    • Looks similar to another site that shut down a couple of years ago (I can't recall the name now, but very similar). No idea why that one shut down, but hopefully not due to some kind of stand-over tactics from the supermarkets, or if it was, then hopefully they don't try it with this one.

      • I think the duopoly will try to shut down this website unfortunately, especially now that it's reported in MSM.

        • Be interesting. If I was the website operator, and got a threatening legal letter from one of them, I would remove those prices, and leave the other.

          Stuff (say) might reasonably be expected to ask why, to which the answer might be something like, 'I cannot answer for legal reasons.'

          At that point, everyone would know exactly what had happened, why, and who had done it.

          Now the media can go to town without the website operator being exposed at all, and right now, I think they would be fools to encourage a further reaction.

          Will be interesting to see if Parker decides there are more votes in going visibly past the CC recommendations but further media coverage of what would be seen by many as 'bullying' would certainly encourage him.

        • They'll probably get it shut down for Web scraping or something like that.

          • @Stoic: Not disputing that they could do that - just noting that it might be far from politic right now.

  • +2

    Next tip, fasting.
    There's no simpler way to save money on food by simply not eating. There's no rule that says we have to eat three times a day. The average American eats 5-6 times a day. I eat 5-6 times a week.
    When people tell me, "I can't possibly go 20 hours without eating", I reply, "Have you ever tried"?
    The trick is to not eat foods that are designed to make you more hungry.

    • +2

      saves you a ton of time as well, I reckon.

    • +2

      Generally your body / hunger adjusts to the new norm. Whether thats 1500 calories, 2000 or 2800, anyone can feel hungry..or not hungry.

      I've averaged 1400/day for the past 6 weeks and am down from 88 to 69 kg during the pandemic (5'10M, mid 20's).
      I'm less hungry than when I was eating 2700/day, late last year.

      The key is to remove snacks or downsize meals, you will be hungry as your body misses it for a few days, but then it becomes the new norm.

      • Are you on calorie deficit long term? Wouldn't you just keep losing muscle mass long term?

        Are you calorie counting? And What is the goal?

        Would love to lose 10kg permanently, but past experience have led to believe I'd just gain it back when the dieting is over

    • Are you on calorie deficit long term? Or you eating the maintenance calorie but in less sittings?

  • +1

    Not a food tip but I wonder how many people know about this site.
    Decent quality razors and much cheaper than Gillette.

    • How does it compare to Gillette proglide?

      • I haven't tried the proglide but it's comparable with the Mach 5. Just doesn't have that single blade on the back.

    • just let it grow

  • Gillette Skinguard Cartridges 4 packs were on clearance at Sylvia Park for a ridiculous 47 cents.

  • +1

    I finally managed to get some $4 blocks of butter at The Warehouse but I was there at 9am.

    By the time I left the store there were only a few blocks left so I think you need to get there early to take advantage of this pretty good deal.

    • Rolling meadows at paknsave if you cant get to warehouse early for $4.99 at the moment

  • New World currently have their Pam's 1kg cheese for $9.99 for the next few weeks.
    I haven't seen cheese at that price for ages.

    • Do you know is that including Tasty cheese?

      • I think it's just Edam and Cheddar. Tasty was 800gm from memory.

    • Eclipse Cheese 1kg is $9.79 in PaknSave in case you need that additional 20c savings. :)…

      • Never seen this in Christchurch. Must only be sold in the NI?

        • It's quite new. I've only started seeing these when the rollbacks happened. So maybe not rolled out there yet.

          • @Japo32: Yeah, 1kg cheese blocks were $9 each (excludes tasty) in CD's last weekend deals (2 days, NI).

        • Eclipse cheese has been around for a little while, only certain P&S stocked it but it’s probably available in more stores now. Always found it to be the cheapest even when it first came out (we go through quite a bit of cheese).

          Been a while since I saw a good sale on Tasty but when Silverdale P&S had their anniversary sales the other week they had 500g meadow fresh tasty blocks for $4.99. Really good price and they didn’t even advertise or promote it.

  • +1

    Lamb shoulder chops are usually pretty cheap.

    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp dried rosemary

    Mix it all together and sprinkle over 1kg of lamb chops.
    Put in a slow cooker for around 6 hours with 1/4 cup of broth or water and whatever vegetables you prefer and you've got yourself a delicious and very nutritious meal

    • would be slightly cheaper if you have a rosemary bush. They're hardy as and require almost no maintenance too. :) a few hardy herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage, wild fennel (this one is actually a weed!).

  • +1

    Frozen Direct in Dunedin are selling 1kg frozen peas, mixed veges and corn kernals for $2ea. Only peas left now after I grabbed the last of the corn but they said they'll be getting more in but didn't know when exactly.

    They also do a bunch of Sealord 2nds, things like crumbed/battered hoki pieces/fillets, fish fingers etc for dirt cheap. I grabbed a 1kg bag of coconut and kafir lime flavored crumbed hoki fillets for $8.50 which sell for $7 for a 300g pack in the supermarkets.

  • +1

    FYI Pak N Save Silverdale has Meadow Fresh Colby Cheese 500g @ $4.49, x2 would be cheaper than some 1kg blocks. Could also try price matching with The Warehouse.

  • +1

    Frozen Direct in Dunedin have 1kg bags of Sealord Panko crumbed Hoki bites for $7.90, they're about the size of large scallops. BB 31/7/22 but they're frozen and will be perfectly fine sitting in your freezer if you eat them within the next 6-8 weeks. Similar frozen crumbed Hoki bites from Sealord are around $9.50 for 400g at Countdown.

    They also have corn nuggets similar to the ones you get from Hell pizza. $12.70 for a 1kg bag, they're very good.

    $2 mixed frozen veges are back in stock, they consist of large chunks of cauliflower, broccoli and slices of carrot. No $2 bags of the frozen corn kernals in stock but they do have the 1kg bags of peas that are also $2.

  • Mad butcher has 5kg of agria spuds on permanent sale for $6.99.
    They make incredible chips! But just as good whole or mashed.
    I make chips once fry them and freeze them, all ready to go. I never buy takeaway

    • Haven't seen those in Mad Butcher - but then I am not the most observant!

      I can't see it online, but will look next time I am in there, as that is a reasonable price ($1.40 per kg against their loose price of $1.99 per kg), and generally most of the local PNS stores are around $1.50 per kg for a 10kg bag.

  • My local mad butcher is called a Madmarket. Ferry Road Christchurch, I'm not sure if these are in every city. And in a brown paper sack

  • +2

    Here's another and it's fun easy delicious and healthy.
    Bought a sausage stuffer on trademe for 20 something dollars. My sausage is delicious! And get better every time, also a big saving compared to gourmet sausage prices.
    My favourite so far is beef chilli cheese
    Organic tomato paste
    Tasty cheese
    Masterfoods chilli, garlic, celery salt, black pepper, basil
    Virgin olive oil
    Diced onion sometimes
    Green milk powder as a binder
    And a packet of Maggie nacho flavour
    They look fantastic smell even better even before their cooked and when I do my neighbours are jealous and hungry! lol
    No cancer causing sulphites or any other rubbish and the most delicious I've ever had.
    Highly reccomend

  • And for the numbers. Last batch of 39 sausage only took a couple hours all told and cost about 60% of the price of gourmet paknsave sausage. Probably have twice the meat content too

  • Here's another I use and enjoy.
    Countdown has sistema half price quite often.
    I buy the 3 pack of 420ml for freezing single serve soups and other foods.
    I buy the 3 pack of 520ml (they hold more because the lid is higher than the container lip) for single serve freezer meals.
    Butter chicken and lasagne are favourites. Make batches of around 9 meals at a time and slam them in the freezer.
    Having these delicious heat and eat meals handy is better than takeaways also faster tastier and healthier. A big saving

  • Whenever preparing potatoes tip out the whole bag on the bench. Then pick the spongy and rootiest (rootiest? lol) to use first and put the best ones back in the bag. Saves wastage and money

    • Any hacks on how to stop/delay them from sprouting?

      • +1

        Keep them in the dark is the most important to stop them sprouting I believe, plus cool and dry in general for almost anything.

      • +1

        Keep them away from the onions, they give off ethylene which makes them ripen faster.

        • Never heard of potatoes or onions 'ripening' - that's something I would generally associate with fruit.

          • +2


            Storing potatoes and onions together isn't the best idea. Onions produce a high level of ethylene gas, which will cause potatoes to ripen — and go bad — before you're ready to use them. However, those spuds aren't completely innocent, either; potatoes' high moisture content can cause onions to liquefy and leak. Keep onions and potatoes apart for both vegetables' sakes.


  • +1

    Dead on dark and dry reduces sprouting. Same for kumara onion and garlic etc. The $6.99 5kg agria spuds I bought from the Madmarket yesterday are now in a white bag with a plastic coating. Glad I tipped them on the bench they were all damp with wet patches and a few rot spots. If I hadn't checked and dried them out would've had a bag of rotten mouldy potatoes

    • +1

      Yes - I always tip them from the bag into a cardboard box to check they are dry, then close the top over.

  • Thanks for the tip on onions, be handy for ripening fruit faster too. As long as no one pulls one out of the fruit bowl and chomps into it

  • On the subject of potatoes, have you ever tried fried potato peelings? They're incredible! Also for composters you'll probably already know potato peelings in the Compost is a bitch because the eyes just keep sprouting. Just throw them on top of your garden, they dry out and the eyes die. No sprouting and the nutrients and fibre enrich your garden

  • Some changes in egg industry, likely to result in eggs getting scarcer and more expensive

  • The Warehouse seem to have stopped doing their $4 blocks of butter.
    Countdown currently have butter for $4.90 which could be the best alternative.

    • TWH prices, especially groceries prices often increase unexpectedly. The cheap coffee went from $1 to $1.80 to $2.20. The flour has also been increased to $1.80 to $2.10. Stock up when the prices are low, they don't last forever.

      • Can't - my freezer is already full of $4 butter, and my garage is stacked full of $1 flour.

        • In Victorian times you would be celebrated as The Most Eligible Bachelor In All The Land

          • @Slogan: Whereas here and now, I am a carb and fat loaded slob.

            • @Alan6984: Plus a recluse, psycho prepper waiting for the world to burn so you can become king.

              • @Bill: Well, to be fair, that predates Covid, the Cost of Living Crisis, Jacinda, and probably much of the last thirty years.

      • They are looking expensive now for many things. They seem to be importing their own branded stuff, but it is pretty pricey when you compare it to home branded food in the UK that places like ASDA and ALDI sell.SOme isn't much different in price to the big two prices. We need a new competitor as I don't think TWH is really going to help much with competition.

  • Flours great for putting out fires especially flammable liquid. Saved a guys flat who was using petrol to light the fire and dropped the bottle when it caught on fire. Glug Glug roar roar 6 ft high flames. No thanks of course just whined about the mess. If the world is burning you might have enough flour to put it out. Ha

    • Actually, I'm more concerned about the flour heap being unstable … pretty sure basic school science taught us something about that, but can't for life of me remember what.

      Ah well, I'm sure it will come back to me in a flash and bang at some point.

    • How much flour must you have had to put out a petrol fire? I imagine it was more so the quick burn of the gasoline that caused it to die down quickly.

  • It was a small bin full 2 or 3kg and nope instantly out, dumped the lot on the petrol and it instantly smothered it from no oxygen. Learned it in a fire fighting part of a deep sea fishing course, came in really handy. Certainly work on a fat fire too. With flammable liquid fires water makes them worse spreads them because they float on the water. Could save your or someone else's house this knowledge so dont forget


    Have you loved PAK’nSAVE’s Price Rollback as much as we have? Foodstuffs North Island is excited to announce Price Rollback will be continuing in all North Island PAK’nSAVE stores until Sunday 13 February 2023.

    PAK’nSAVE is helping ease pressure on New Zealanders by continuing to roll back prices on a bunch of everyday items – working hard to keep costs under control in these inflationary times.

  • The specials at moorehouse Christchurch paknsave don't have the price roll backs today. Uh oh should have stocked up more

  • Watch prices increase in the rollup to Xmas.

  • Price roll back to price roll up? Pay n slave

  • The rotorua store have rolled back the price of items they dont even have on the shelf

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