When it comes to Nairobi, how much you spend on household items each month depends on where and when you shop.
Over the years, some have come to discover the huge saving potential when shopping at wholesale shops around the city, while others have identified not only the cheapest supermarkets, but the ideal days, places and conditions to do the actual shopping in order to make significant savings.
To save on money and time, some savvy shoppers opt to go to the store only once per month, while others have it down to shopping after every yearly quarter.
This may seem extreme to some, but all it takes is careful planning. Why make four or more trips per month when you can make just one?
You can greatly reduce your shopping bill if you make a list (and stick to it) and shop wholesale especially from big supermarkets and food markets. Get things when they are on sale or promotion.
A kilogramme of sugar at the wholesale store is Ksh90 whereas the same goes for Ksh105 to Ksh110 at the cheapest supermarkets around such as Carrefour and Naivas.
Twenty litres of cooking oil go for up to Ksh4,200 at wholesale stores, and Ksh4,500 to Ksh4,700 at the local supermarkets, depending on the brand.
When it comes to Blue Band, 1kg at the local supermarkets as well as online vendors such as 159onlineshop and Jumia, goes for an average of Ksh 380-400. In Eastleigh, the same quantity of Blue Band goes for Ksh330 in wholesale stores.
As you can see, significant savings can be made, especially if one decides to buy the basic household items in bulk.
This is not to say that all items are cheaper at wholesale stores, just that most of them are.
However, shrewd shoppers have come up with this hybrid system of shopping that offers the best of both worlds.
For example, unlike supermarkets, the concept of end month offers and customer loyalty reward points is mostly foreign to most wholesalers.
The secret lies in carrying out thorough research (comparing prices) prior to you set shopping date, then ensuring this particular date coincides with what supermarket shoppers call 'crazy offer' days.
Carrefour, has made a name for itself as one of the top supermarkets when it comes to 'crazy offers'.
All you'd need to do is be on the constant look out for such deals as they are usually blasted across social media as well as local dailies.
At times, items go for half the price you'd find at wholesale stores. This is especially the case during end-of-month or clearance sales.
One way to do this could be by utilizing social media accounts of retailers in Kenya as they constantly post various offers.
They also actively share reports touching on day to day consumer goods, as well as up to date offers.
Using such, one could easily save when it comes to the monthly shopping budget.
When it comes to meat, try out Burma market along jogoo road. It will be inconvenient at first. However, the aim is to create a relationship with just one of the many vendors at the market.
With a 1Kg of steak and bone going for an average of Ksh350 and a 1Kg of pure steak going for an average of Ksh400, it's easy to see why venturing to such a place would be beneficial.
Note that you have to consider the convenience and transport costs to cheaper markets and see if the savings still hold - read on for alternatives that may be nearer to you.
The vendors at the various butcheries there are all clamouring to secure steady clientele, which in turn drives the prices even lower as well as leading to additional services such as home deliveries.
An alternative could be the Kenya Meat Commission depot located along Landhies Road. A kilogramme of beef retails at Ksh440, with those going for assorted meat guaranteed to get such at prices that are lower than estate butcheries.
If you are in the CBD and looking to make a bulk meat purchase (5Kg plus), consider City Market which can give you a slightly lower price than your local butcher.
Taking advantage of this can lead to significant savings.
There are 2 basic types of markets in Nairobi: Meat & fish markets, and vegetable markets.
Marikiti Market - The market is located along Haile Selassie Avenue right next to Muthurwa Market and is known for fresh farm products at pocket friendly prices.
It serves as a pipeline to the millions of residents living in Nairobi’s east lands area.
Kangemi Market along Waiyaki Way - It offers unbeatable offers as far as fruits, traditional vegetables and cereals are concerned for residents in Kangemi, Mountain View, Uthiru, Kinoo and Muthiga estates among other regular users of Waiyaki Way.
As for residents along the Thika Superhighway route, Githurai is still the go to place when it comes to fresh vegetables.
Wangige Market - Renowned for it’s robust egg market where on Mondays and Thursdays, the price for a tray of eggs ranges from Ksh260 to Ksh300. During these specific days, those buying less than a crate of eggs often land killer deals such as 3 eggs at Ksh20.
It is always economical to carry your own tray as the alternative would mean buying the trays at the market, thus increasing your overall spend.
Residents plying the Kiambu Road route are fond of Kirigiti market where fresh vegetables are sold at pocket friendly prices.
On the other hand, Kariokor and Kamukunji markets are favorites when it comes to household items such as basin, dish racks - known for plastic items in general.
Also, when on a trip outside Nairobi (be it for business or leisure) take advantage of whatever item is sold at a throwaway price in whichever county you are visiting, compared to its price in Nairobi.
For example, if heading to Meru, a stop in Mwea on your way back could offer significant savings when it comes to rice.
If heading to Nakuru, a short detour to Molo could save you a lot of money on Irish potatoes, the same applies to Onions in Emali on your way back from the Coast and so on.
As with any other type of saving, discipline is key to success.
One can carry out a self-audit which involves examining one's shopping habits, identifying the weak spots or holes, and plugging them.
How often do you go to the supermarket? When you go, do you always stick to your list or do you buy whatever looks good?
Various studies show that almost half of shoppers go to the store multiple times a week (three to four times) and purchase about 54% more than they originally planned.
If you plan ahead to make just one trip a month, your savings will be quite significant by the end of the year.
In order to figure out what to buy when you get to the store, you need to make a list (inventory) of what you already have.
Now, this may also come off as a little extreme to some but hear me out.
Having a clear list of what you have also helps in making a meal plan for the entire month.
It may not be a common or popular thing to have a weekly meal plan, as most of us like to surprise our taste buds or bellies if you may.
However, you'd be surprised at just how much you'd end up saving by having a detailed meal plan that you stick to, only adjusting it according to the items you have left by the end of the month.
For example, if you have a lot of pasta in your pantry, you should utilize this ingredient in a number of recipes for the month.
A Lot of people turn their receipts into a crumpled up paper ball and toss it at the nearest dustbin when exiting supermarkets.
If you are looking to boost your savings on shopping, make it a habit to keep a hold of all your receipts.
Ideally you should have all of your shopping receipts from a typical month. This allows you to go through them all and highlight the stuff you used up completely.
You can then mark the items that you didn't get through that month so you can track items you tend to buy impulsively and then not use.
Shopping on certain days of the week can actually boost your savings. Midweek is typically the best, both for additional deals and for a less crowded shopping trip.
Go shopping alone. Most experienced shoppers recommend going shopping alone to avoid any out-of-budget items that tend to just pop up such as when you bring your impressionable friend along.
All in all, despite the high cost of living in Nairobi, proper planning can lead to significant savings when it comes shopping for household items.
It just takes one to make the time to move around some of the places known for amazing discounts such as wholesale shops in Eastleigh, markets in Kikuyu among others.
The aim is to come up with a list of the places with the best deals as per your budget.