Saturday October 1st 2022

Be a bargain hunter – it’s worth it!

South African journalist CARLIEN WESSELS went on the prowl for pocket-saving products and tips – and discovered that by shopping around a little, and changing your lifestyle slightly, you really can save money (just as grandma always said you could). While prices and shops are based in South Africa, her ideas are relevant wherever you are.

I used to stop at my local supermarket to quickly grab a loaf of bread, a litre of milk and this and that… I knew it was costing me money, but what the heck, I was earning a salary and didn’t have time to compare prices.

Now it is crunch time. I am a freelancer, but I wish I had spent just one hour a week to look out for the bargains. By now I could have had an extra month’s salary, I swear!

I suddenly got to Checkers, Pep Stores, Fruit & Veg, and checked out the garages for their prices on diesel. What a difference!

I always buy long-life milk, because one day the kids would use two litres, the next day just about nothing. I found that Checkers was R3 per litre cheaper than the other stores. Plus R1,30 cheaper on premium bread. The free-range eggs were R6 cheaper per 18 eggs than their nearest competitor.

For fruit and vegetables, I went to Fruit & Veg. What a bargain! Do you really want to pay R19.99 for a small bowl of cooked beetroot at Woolies? You can buy a whole bunch at F&V for R6.99. It doesn’t take that much to cook them. Plus they have lots of specials – two for one. I just love gem squashies – R17.99 at Woolies for 6 sliced ones (therefore, three). I found a bag of 12 for R10.99 at F&V. It takes me 5 minutes to slice them open and take out the pips after cooking!

We eat chicken quite reguarly. Do NOT go the Checkers or Pick ‘n Pay route! They are full of fat and bones. There you can go to Woolies. Rand for rand, they are cheaper. They are also cheap with their coated hake. Good quality minced meat I would also buy there.

Now, about Pep Stores: They have the cheapest pre-paid airtime ever. I also bought 3 washing cloths for R7.99. As it goes, we go through that quite quickly and while I had a free day, I compared quality. Much better than the other stores. I also always buy scrubbing sponges there. (And may I confess, I have bought the loveliest blouses there and everyone complimented me!) Their batteries are also ultra-cheap.

I didn’t scale down from two-ply toilet paper. It really wasn’t worth it! Woolies’ two-ply is less expensive than those at other shops (unless they have specials). I have once tried one-ply that you could see through. We went through that in three days’ time. Talking about that: Rather blow your nose with toilet paper than tissues.

As for dog and cat food – an unusual outlet is Builder’s Warehouse! You save at least 40%, I kid you not.

Sorry to go back to human food again, but I just remembered some ways to stretch your food really far: As for minced meat, I add a can of baked beans to the mix these days. It is not only healthy (and provides fibre), but it stretches a meal a long way. The same with potatoes. When making mince balls, I add oats (yes, healthy once again!) and finely chopped carrots. I get twice as much this way. (Oh, and I grow my own herbs and veggies these days, it’s therapeutic and lovely to pick your own organic food.)

I would love to dish out some cheap recipes and tips:

* Eggs are packed with protein and they are not only breakfast food. They are end-of-the-month or “broke-back month” food. Make omelettes with fillings of your choice like tomato, cheese, chopped ham (if you can afford it) or yes, even baked bean stuffing. Serve with salad (from your own garden).

* Boil eggs and simmer in tomato and onion sauce (from a can or fresh) and serve with boiled potatoes.

* Talking about potatoes, what a wonderful gift! Spuds filled with anything from cheese to canned tuna are wonderful meals. Serve with veggies and/or salad.

* Chicken livers are cheap and easy to make. Use as a filling for spuds, on toast or with bread to dip.

* If you made a stew and have left-overs, use it to make soup the next day. Add lentils or soup mix to stretch it – it’s really cheap, filling and healthy.

* Any kind of pasta is a life-saver. You can add virtually anything from plain herbs to more extravagant things like cheese, mushrooms etc. I have a friend that eats spaghetti and boerewors!

* Invest in a Soda-stream to make your own bubbly water if you hate plain water like me or instead of fuzzy drinks.

* Dilute fruit juice with 1/3 of water.

Some general tips:

* Switch off lights and appliances that you don’t use.

* You really don’t have to wash towels every day. Hang out in the sun to dry and get fresh.

* Never make phone calls from your cell to landlines and vice versa. If you have a landline, always ask if the other person have a landline as well.

* Use your tumble-dryer as little as you can.

* Cook only as much water that you need in your kettle, or fill up a flask full of boiled water for the day.

* It is far cheaper to run hot water and put it into a pot than to boil cold water on a stove.

* If you have “off” fruit in your fridge, put them out for the birds. With vegetables, mix with the soil in your garden. I can show you a whole tomato patch in my garden from that!

* The most superb deal and wonderful service for an ADSL line is from MWeb at just R219 per month – no limits.
* Make your own popcorn. It’s fun and cheap.

I suggest you keep an eye out for bargains. You never know when you would need the extra cash. Every time I come upon a bargain, I put the ‘extra’ money in a separate purse these days. I was able to buy myself an extra hard-drive for my computer within two months!

Most of all, live frugally. It feels GOOD!

Carlien Wessels has worked in the media and marketing industry for the past 27 years. She worked at the biggest magazines in the country, studied Psychology and has two sons, three dogs and a husband. She is currently a freelance writer and photographer. Contact: or 079 447 9084.

One Comment for “Be a bargain hunter – it’s worth it!”

  • Diana Ferreira says:

    Very good advice! I already follow quite a few of your tips.

    ps. Checkers brand single play tp is soft and thick. Almost feels like 2-play 🙂

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