high groceries bill
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5 Things I Did To Reduce My Damn High Groceries Bill

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Cook at home, they say. Then you’ll save money, they say.

Then why is the groceries bill still too damn high?

I personally got myself into this predicament – in April 2019 I found myself spending RM767.95 for groceries?!? For one person?!

Because it *was* abnormally high, I told myself to get my shit together. It kind of worked – in May 2019, the amount went down to RM480.20. Guestimating 100 homemade meals a month, that’s RM4.80 per meal.

And – not to brag or anything – I eat well. My meals tend to be healthy, I try my best not to sacrifice nutrition. I think I’m doing well, because I haven’t been sick in years actually.

Here are some changes I made to lower my high groceries bill. As the numbers show you, they worked!

#1 – Eat everything I bought challenge

Sometimes, I don’t get around to cooking or eating the ingredients or food I bought, and that’s like throwing money away, so my first priority was tackling that problem.

And I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household that’s completely okay (and guilt-free) with throwing out excess food. It’s a habit I had to unlearn.

To be fair, I *know* it’s not just us. Many other Malaysians waste food. A lot of food too – in fact, the DPM said that we waste 1kg of food per person per day.

That’s a LOT of money being thrown away.

For the most part, the challenge is easy, but I also had to learn to…

#2 – Be okay with eating the same things in a row

I remember eating my homemade gulai for 7 straight meals last month. Look, I like my gulai, and I thought it turned out decent taste-wise, but I did get sick of it.

This tip goes really well with another well-known grocery-bill-slashing-tip, cooking in bulk.

While it *is* a great tip, you can’t escape the fact that (1) you’d get bored of the same taste pretty soon, and (2) you might also eat more portions and over-eat (which is something I do alarmingly regularly).

But you know, I did enjoy (1) the time saving (a lot less cooking time overall!) and (2) training myself to get used to food-as-fuel.

It’s also interesting to note that eating out became a treat that I really, really enjoy. Instead of being used to it, getting to taste different flavours became a special occasion. So that’s a nice side effect I didn’t expect.

#3 – Prioritising grocery items that last longer

Kind of tied to #1. Part of reducing food wastage is reducing grocery items that spoil easily and fast.

That means now I buy a lot more of:

  • Cabbages instead of bok choy
  • Carrots instead of broccoli
  • Apples instead of grapes
  • Frozen spinach instead of fresh ones
  • Canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones

Buying frozen especially helped me to reduce a lot of wastage!

#4 – Have a system to track groceries list

At any given point, I know exactly what ingredients I have. So I almost never buy ‘just in case don’t have’ ingredients.

This deserves a whole article on its own: see I Figured Out The Perfect System to Stop Food Waste

#5 – Substituting my protein sources

Usually, the most expensive parts of my groceries bill is the proteins – the meats, seafood and dairy products.

It doesn’t help that I like being on a low-carb diet, so I had to maintain my high protein intake.

But being on a budget is being on a budget, no excuses. I’ve switched it up and been experimenting more with alternative, cheaper proteins. That basically means I’m eating more eggs, tofu, beans and lentils.

The experimenting process has been quite fun actually. I made this awesome bean stew the other day.

What do you do to reduce your high groceries bill?

What does your household do to reduce high groceries bill? Have you tried any of the methods above, and how was it like for you? What habits did you pick up?

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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  1. Great article for younger people that are just starting out in a new city, however IMO I have an alarming concern on substituting animal protein with plant-based protein. Protein is made up of amino acids and there’s many different types of amino acids, and plant-based protein are mainly made up of non-essential amino acid which the body can produce. Animal protein on the other hand consists of mostly essential amino acid, those that our body require consumption and cannot produce.
    The lack of animal protein consumption generally also mean that the you lack essential fatty acids for proper and stable hormone production.
    I wouldn’t be on this diet for more than a few months in order to save money for a trip or something for health reasons.

    1. Hi James,

      Don’t worry, I personally eat a lot of salmon and healthy meats too, just not as often. That’s why it’s RM4.80 per meal, as opposed to RM2 or so with a plant-based diet

  2. This might be controversial but one way I reduce my grocery bill is to buy reduced price meat/ fish/ vegetables and cook them that day, or at the latest the next day. So far (touch wood), no adverse effects from eating them.

    1. Hi Amelia,

      That’s not controversial. But my luck with these reduced-priced meats and fish has never been good. They smell 🙁

      Veges are great though. Love checking out the reduce-to-clear section at the produce section!

  3. Hi there,
    I used to splurge my money without even bother to track my spending when I was in my 20s’. I suppose that is one big mistake in my life. Like Bruno Mars said ” too young, too dumb to realize”.
    Upon entering 30, I started to use MyMoney apps to track my spending. Initially, a bit difficult because it wasn’t a habit to key in all my receipts on daily basis. Now after 2 years, I already get used to it.
    Back on track, upon averaging my spending on groceries, I found out I did spend around RM1000 monthly. That is crazy amount for a person. The main culprit: takeway food/tapau.
    Cost of single set of tapau especially when using food delivery services, will always more than RM10. Assuming 2 sets daily for lunch and dinner, RM20, times 30 days = RM600. For one person.
    From that, I have tried to dramatically reduce the takeway food, and try to cook simple meal for one. But, there is always issue. I am not good with cooking, but I also not selective type of person when it come to the taste of food. Whatever fills my stomach is okay.
    Also not forget to mention, when buying meat or protein for single person, I will have dilemma of buying small or large portion. Small portion, I can consume before it spoilt, but more expensive in term of price per kilo. Big portion, guarantee to be wasted because I don’t always cook, but pricewise is cheaper. I did try to resolve the issue with canned food. But canned food is not that much healthy, not that delicious, and expensive.

    If you have any good idea that can help me here, I would appreciate is so much. Gracias!

    1. Hi Sur@Dee,

      Not sure if this will help you but I love having frozen fruits and veges ready on hand. Because they’re frozen, they dont spoil. Just put a handful to whatever I’m cooking or even as a snack, for boost in nutrition: https://twitter.com/surayaror/status/1550118633828786177

      As for protein, we are big egg eaters, they keep well too. Rice + egg (scrambled, omelette, boiled etc love them all) with sambal plus veges/fruits. Quick fast easy 🙂

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