With the cost of goods continually increasing, how can you stretch your dollar & reduce groceries, dining, and coffee costs? Here are 30+ tips to be a smart and savvy shopper!
(Last updated: Sep 11, 2018)
- Set a monthly budget for each category (e.g. dining out, groceries)
- Consider using a credit card (1-5%+ cash back / points)
- If cooking and is difficult & expensive to cook for 1 or 2 – organise a pot bless with a few friends
- Create a shopping list; avoid impulse purchases. Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
- Be flexible and look for items which your eat that are on sale (supermarket loss leaders or closer to best by date).
- Reduce junk food/unhealthy foods. Most healthy foods are cheaper and more nutritious.
- Consider if you really need speciality (or even organic) food which costs more. Consider generic/store brand alternatives. Look for value (not cheap!) alternatives.
- Use a calculator (re: on your phone) to calculate the price per unit.
- Buy in bulk / on sale provided you know you will finish using all of it in a reasonable timeframe.
- Bread/oatmeal for breakfast (healthier too!). Eggs are your friend with high protein, easy prep and low cost.
- Eat simpler meals like fruits, salads and vegetables. Cooking at home can be cost effective if planned out well. Consider freezing leftovers/extra portions for a quick reheat saving you time (and money).
- If you wine with your dine, look for quality which gives high quality at good value (e.g. Australian Yellow Tail).
- If you frequent a particular mall/store, get the store’s loyalty card (points & deals).
- Check out online food reviews to see the menu, ratings, and other diners feedback like on TripAdvisor or our Malaysian food bloggers friend StevenGoh and Taufulou.
- Order around the mid-price point for mains which usually give the best value. If not too hungry, consider ordering an appetiser instead of a main (the salads in some places like Chilli’s are HUGE).
- Couples (or bffs) can share drinks/bring own water out. If you MUST have drinks and drink like a camel, get a bottomless drink.
- Or opt for water when dining out (Did you know Nando’s has finally started serving plain water?)
- Consider dessert options nearby the restaurant (it’s often cheaper & tastes better!)
- Mix dining at different price level places throughout the month (instead of mediocre overpriced meals daily, eat chap fan/nasi campur on weekdays then splurge on somewhere nice on the weekend).
- Look our for credit card dining promotions.
- Coupon sites try out new eating places; discount/privilege cards for fave frequents.
- Use a dining/discount app like The Entertainer to get 50% off, buy 1 free 1 deals etc.
- Enjoy your food, chew slowly, and treasure the company of your dining companions (no phones!)
- Order a small drink if you can’t finish a large drink (eg “Tall” at Sbux which is not listen on the menu board).
- Bring your own tumbler for RM2 off at Starbucks. Buy the tumbler when there’s a sale (comes with a free drink too).
- Order a brewed coffee instead of a fancy expensive diabetes inducing unicorn drink. Not only is it healthier, often brewed fresh (5min wait), you can request for milk (cold/hot/low-fat/soy) to make your own “ghetto latte”.
- Know your preference for light, medium or dark roasts. It doesn’t have to be fancy or snobbish.
- Light: lighter but more sourish
- Medium: bitter and higher acidity
- Dark: stronger but more oily
- Arabica vs Robusta beans.
- Arabica: grown higher altitude, slightly acidic, smooth
- Robusta: grown lower altitude, bitter, stronger
- Use the coffee chain’s loyalty card/app for free drinks/promos.
- If coffee is your religion, consider buying a coffee machine (or a simple filter/press) & get beans as it is much cheaper per cup (and healthier to boot!)
- Store your coffee beans in a cool dark and dry place. Avoid direct sunlight.
- For best results, grind your coffee beans fresh before drinking. A decent grinder can be found for about RM100 (avoid the manual wooden box type).
- Buy sustainably grown beans and support your environment and coffee farmers. A cup of (black) coffee a day keeps diabetes and liver disease away!
What tips & suggestions do you have for groceries, dining & coffee?