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The Kiamsiap Guide To Cheap Grocery Shopping in Malaysia

BY Philippe Andrews

Updated 04 Jun 2021


"Eh! Why so expensive wan?"

It's a question that most Malaysians ask at least once a week, particularly when shopping for groceries. It's a perfectly reasonable one too, as the price tags of groceries today can be very frightening to look at — and because we shop for groceries frequently, it’s almost like living through a nightmare all the time.

However, you don’t really have to burn a hole in your pocket whenever you go grocery shopping.

Truth be told, grocery shopping in Malaysia can be a very affordable affair — as long as you do it 'The Kiamsiap Way'! Let the list below show you how.

What's covered in this article?

1. Let's BYOB!

Although BYOB usually stands for "Bring your own booze", we certainly aren't encouraging you to drink while grocery shopping.

The Kiamsiap take on BYOB actually refers to "Bring your own BAG"! You’d probably know this already, but hear us out. Most supermarkets and department stores in Malaysia now charge up to 50 cents for a plastic bag, and if you have a lot of groceries to shop for, you could end up spending a lot on plastic bags alone.

Why not save up by getting yourself a few reusable tote bags instead, and bringing these along whenever you go shopping? You would also be saving the environment in the process — while being well-prepared to tackle situations like Penang’s absolute ban on plastic bags every Monday.

Of course, you could bring both some bags and a "beverage" too. Don't blame us, though, if you end up spending even more in your drunken state!

2. Resist the temptation and get listed!

Remember the popular Malay saying, "Sediakan payung sebelum hujan"? It’s basically a reminder to always prepare adequately before facing challenges or taking on tasks.

Believe it or not, this saying holds true even when it comes to grocery shopping — and what better way to prepare for this specific challenge than by making a list?

Creating a list of the groceries you need to shop for will not only help you focus on only getting the things you need, but also allows you to stick to a strict budget so that you don’t end up spending money unnecessarily.

This is especially important in Malaysia, where sales are literally everywhere and the temptation to spend money on things we don’t really need is very, very strong.

3. Cheaper choices can be good

To become a true disciple of ‘The Kiamsiap Way’, one must understand the power of choice when it comes to grocery shopping.

The next time you’re as Tesco, AEON, Giant, or any other supermarket or hypermarket, make the conscious choice of buying that supermarket or hypermarket’s very own products. These can range from cookies to detergent to hand soap, so you definitely won’t have trouble when it comes to variety.

Why? A supermarket’s own products are often cheaper than those of competitors that it also carries. For example, Tesco’s Glass Cleaner (500ml) retails for only RM4.09, while the Glass Cleaners from other manufacturers are sold for RM6.69 or more.

So, the next time you’re shopping for groceries, go to a store that makes its own products — and don’t be ashamed to make cheaper choices.

4. Keep your eyes on the expiring goods

If you visit stores like Cold Storage and Village Grocer regularly, you should know about the existence of shelves or sections in these stores that are meant specifically for expiring goods.

You should also know, then, that dismissing these goods just because they are expiring could prove to be a very costly mistake!

If you take a closer look at them, you would realise that many of them are actually being sold at discounted prices — sometimes, by up to 90%. The best part? They may not be expiring anytime soon, as some of these items could still last for a few months, and possibly even longer if refrigerated.

As such, why not incorporate as many of these items as you need into your list of groceries, especially if they can replace some full-priced items? In fact, by making it a habit to check out the expiring goods section whenever you’re in a grocery store, you could end up saving a whole lot of money.

5. Jalan-jalan cari makan

Let’s face it: dealing with crowds of people while pushing a heavy trolley around and constantly comparing goods can be a very taxing process. Throw the responsibility of looking after kids into the mix, and the situation becomes even more exhausting.

Now, being Malaysians, we tend to deal with this exhaustion using a technique that we know too well: makan!

What if we told you, though, that spending on food or makan-makan while grocery shopping could be a large reason why your shopping trips are so expensive?

Eating in a mall or supermarket is almost always more expensive that eating at a mamak or hawker stall, or even cooking at home. Thus, before you go on your next grocery shopping trip, why not have a hearty meal at home or at your favourite affordable eatery?

Here’s another tip: try as many food samples as you can while shopping! This may seem like an extreme thing to do even for ‘The Kiamsiap Way’, but what’s a little bit of shame if it means leaving with a full stomach?

Cuba try test?

There you go! Five kiamsiap hacks that can help make your grocery shopping trips much cheaper, in exchange for a few small changes to your usual shopping habits. 

But that’s not all. Since we Malaysians love free gifts, here’s one bonus pointer: cards! Some credit and debit cards give you rewards, points, discounts and even cashback offers for using them to pay for your groceries, like the New AEON Gold Visa/MasterCard and the CIMB Tesco Platinum Credit Card. Sign up for one of these and take them with you the next time you go grocery shopping! Don't forget to make credit card comparison on Loanstreet's website so that you can see which card fits your need most.

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About the Author

Philippe Andrews


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