KT for good: Cut your grocery budget by half with UAE residents' shopping hacks
Dubai - Bachelors who share accommodation have found new ways to stay afloat.
With job losses and salary cuts, residents are wading through uncharted waters. They are finding new ways to cut corners but are constrained by choices. Contracts for home rent, phone, Internet and TV can't be changed; school fee has to be paid; and electricity and water bills can be managed to an extent - but one, and arguably the only thing, a person has any control over is grocery. You can decide what to eat and how much to spend. And that's what many residents have done.
Bachelors who share accommodation have found new ways to stay afloat. Mubarak Ali, who has been a UAE resident for more than 27 years, was able to cut his grocery budget in half by turning to vegetable markets and flour mills.
"When faced with salary cuts, we need to make judicious planning to survive. In March, self-cooking started. It was then that I noticed the difference in prices at vegetable shops and flour mills compared to hypermarkets," said Ali who works at a private company.
He found that 1kg of onion is being sold at around Dh1.50 to Dh2 at a vegetable shop, half of the usual price he pays at a hypermarket, he said. "I also started buying flour, spices from the mill. I have been able to cut my monthly expenses from Dh800-Dh1,000 range to Dh400-500. This pandemic has made me see life in a new light."
Ali shares his accommodation with three other friends, Mohammed Younus, Meeran Mydeen and Sheikh Alaudeen.
At the butcher shop
A new resident, Mohammed Rafik, also did his research and discovered that buying meat from a butcher shop is cheaper than getting it from the supermarket.
"A kilo of beef will be Dh28 at shop and Dh34 at the supermarket. The same goes with the price of mutton and fish, which varies a lot. Overall, I have cut consumption by half. So I have started saving," he said.
Rafik added that he had also tried multiple options, including online shopping.
"Like everyone, I have made modifications to my monthly budget. I have made changes to sources I buy from. Initially I placed orders online because of good offers. But the delay in receiving stuff made me go to stores personally," he said.
Residents who stick to supermarkets said they are able to find ways to save, too. Alena Jose, a homemaker, said she and her family have been more conscious of the things they pick up at grocery stores. Some canned goods and frozen items have now been part of their list.
"I have tried bulk buying but then many products didn't last. I resist tempting offers if I don't really need them. Both kids have got limited snacks, fewer chocolates and no colas at all," said Jose, a mother of two.
"We focus on canned and frozen products to reduce cost. I think we must have saved 30-40 per cent from April to June, compared to the January-March period," she added.
Younus, Ali's housemate, said he now avoids the aisles for tea and sweets. "I have moved from fresh milk to a lifelong one and cut the number of teas to one. I have stopped the preparation of sweets like payasam (pudding) during the weekend. And no fruits. Whenever I feel, I will go and buy a banana for Dh1. I have started keeping check on offers at hypermarkets. I buy things in bulk whenever there is any big discount," said Younus, a resident for 15 years.
SMART SAVERS' TIPS:
1-Explore shops and compare prices (check out the butcher shop or the vegetable stall nearby, they may be selling meat and fresh produce lower prices)
2-Spotted a special offer? Ask yourself if you really need it before putting it in your cart
3-Limit snacks, chocolates, sodas and other junk food
4-Check if you can use some frozen items for your dishes
5-Look for cheaper alternatives to favourite products