Cost of living: How to save money grocery shopping according to ChatGPT

Food prices have soared again in the latest data, and along with high inflation and increasing mortgage rates - it's putting increasing pressure on Kiwis' grocery budgets. 

The latest data from Statistics NZ shows food prices increased a whopping 12.5 percent in the 12 months to June 2023. 

It comes after high inflation forced the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to drastically hike the official cash rate from 0.25 in August 2021 to 5.5 percent.

While the RBNZ held the OCR at its latest update, and inflation is beginning to drop from its peak of 7.3 percent in June 2022, it's still sitting at 6 percent - much higher than the RBNZ's target of 1 to 3 percent.  

It's created the perfect storm of financial pressures and as costs rise, saving money has become more important for many families.

While many, many experts have weighed in with their suggestions for how to save money, Newshub decided to turn to an unlikely source for advice - AI. 

ChatGPT was launched earlier in the year and created endless hype over its possibilities. So Newshub put it to the test for a much more mundane task. Newshub asked ChatGPT to "write a comprehensive plan for how to save money on grocery shopping". 

Here's what it had to say. 

Create a budget: Start by setting a budget for your grocery shopping. Analyse your income and other expenses to determine how much you can afford to spend on groceries each month. Stick to this budget religiously.

Make a shopping list: Before heading to the store, create a detailed shopping list based on what you actually need. Avoid impulsive purchases by sticking to this list as closely as possible.

Meal planning: Plan your meals for the week in advance. This will help you buy only the ingredients you need, reducing food waste and unplanned spending.

Shop once a week: Limit your grocery store visits to once a week. Frequent visits often lead to more impulse buying and can cause you to overspend.

Use grocery store apps and rewards programs: Many grocery stores have their own apps or loyalty programs that offer discounts, digital coupons, and special deals. Utilise these to save money on your purchases.

Compare prices: Compare prices between different grocery stores to find the best deals. Consider shopping at discount stores or buying in bulk for items you frequently use.

Buy generic brands: Opt for store brands or generic products, which are often cheaper than name-brand items but can be of comparable quality.

Check unit prices: Pay attention to the unit prices listed on the shelves. Sometimes, buying in bulk may seem cheaper, but the unit price can reveal a different story.

Avoid shopping when hungry: Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to impulsive purchases and overbuying. Eat a meal or snack before heading to the store.

Utilise coupons and vouchers: Collect and use coupons from newspapers, online websites, and store flyers to get discounts on your preferred products.

Buy seasonal produce: Seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually fresher and more affordable. Plan your meals around the produce that's currently in season.

Minimise pre-packaged and processed foods: Pre-packaged and processed foods are often more expensive. Buying raw ingredients and preparing meals from scratch can save you money.

Keep an eye on sales and specials: Be on the lookout for sales, discounts, and specials. Stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale.

Be mindful of expiration dates: Pay attention to expiration dates, especially when buying perishable items. Avoid buying more than you can consume before they expire.

Consider frozen and canned foods: Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can be cheaper than fresh produce and have a longer shelf life.

Avoid single-serving items: Single-serving products are often more expensive per unit. Buy larger sizes and portion them at home to save money.

Limit meat and opt for alternatives: Meat can be a significant portion of the grocery bill. Consider incorporating more plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu into your meals.

Reduce food waste: Plan your meals to use up ingredients before they go bad. Store food properly to maintain freshness and avoid throwing away unused portions.

Use cashback and reward credit cards: If you use credit cards, consider ones that offer cashback or rewards for grocery purchases.

Learn to cook and bake: Knowing how to cook and bake at home can save you a lot of money compared to relying on pre-made meals and take-out.

Grow your own herbs and vegetables: If you have space, consider starting a small garden for herbs and some vegetables. This can be a fun and cost-effective way to supplement your groceries.

Freeze leftovers: If you have leftover meals or ingredients, freeze them for future use instead of letting them go to waste.

But if the list wasn't enough, ChatGPT even offered assurances of how its tips could help you save money. 

"By implementing these strategies, you can significantly reduce your grocery expenses and have more control over your spending," it said. 

"Saving money on groceries will not only benefit your wallet but also promote healthier eating habits and reduce food waste."