Is your food bill setting you back? Food shopping is an essential part of our day-to-day life, but it needn’t be expensive.
Almost half of us say we’re spending more on groceries due to shopping habits we’ve developed during lockdown. So we’ve gathered some smart shopping tips, to help you get more bang for your buck.
Use supermarkets instead of convenience stores
It might be that your local shop is just down the road - but you tend to get charged more for the convenience. Which? say 26% of the people they surveyed used more independent and local convenience stores in April. This led to an increase in their shopping bills.
If you travel a little further, you could make huge savings at a larger supermarket. So if you’re feeling frustrated by the amount you’re spending on groceries, switching up where you shop could be the answer.
Don’t be a brand snob
We all have our favourite brands. Whether it’s a shampoo you can’t do without, or those crisps you can’t get enough of, you're likely to save money if you swap them for own-brand versions.
With the likes of Aldi, who’ve won awards for their own alcohol, grocery and baby ranges, it can be worth ditching the pricey brands. You even could challenge yourself and your family to see if you can tell the difference.
Bargain shops are your friends
If you’ve got extra items to buy (like cosmetics, for example), then chances are you’ll find them for much less in bargain stores like Poundland or B&M - or even your local marketplace.
Make a list – and a meal plan
According to the Money Advice Service, people who make a list are three times less likely to overspend than those who don’t. Get your pen and paper out (or use your phone) and jot down everything you need for the week ahead. Plan it down to a tee, including ingredients for each meal you plan to cook. It’s important to stick to your list and avoid throwing in any extras, to avoid splurging.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach
It always helps to do your shopping after you’ve had a meal. If your stomach’s rumbling, there’s a high chance you’ll give in to the hunger-pangs and chuck some tempting treats in the trolley. Of course, it’s fine to treat yourself, but try to factor them in on your list, to curb impulse buying.
Spot the yellow stickers
You’ll find the biggest bargains when you keep an eye out for those yellow stickers. Head to the shops in the evening, when major price cuts take place on fresh produce that’s nearing the end of its shelf-life.
Compare prices online
Sites like Which? can help you decide where to shop. Which? compares the price of certain food or grocery products in different supermarkets, to find the cheapest deals. They rotate the items they check each month, to bring you up-to-date results.
Don’t be tricked by sales
We all love a good sale but sometimes we’re guilty of buying things we don’t actually need.
When it comes to multi-buy offers, you need to check if you’re really getting a good deal, or you’re buying more than you’ll use. Plus, half-price sausages might sound appealing, but only if they were on your list in the first place!
Head to the frozen aisle
Fresh fruit and vegetables are great - but if you’re on a tight budget, you can still get your five-a-day in frozen form. Also, if you’re getting a week’s worth of food in one go, buying frozen stuff means it’ll stay fresh for longer.
With cashback apps, you can even claim money back from your groceries. In some cases, you can recoup 100% of the cost – meaning you can bag a freebie! Just make sure you keep your receipts to prove your purchase.
They are available to download from Google Play and AppStore for free - or you can sign up online.
Abandon your online shopping basket
There are pros and cons involved with online shopping. More people have recently started using this service for health reasons, but the exact products you want might not also be available.
One handy trick to saving money online is to leave your shopping in the virtual shopping basket for a day or so. The retailer might offer you a discount to tempt you back.
You could start collecting coupons to save money. They appear in supermarket magazines and on packaging (like crisp packets and cereal boxes). You could even write to manufacturers to tell them how much you like (or don’t like) their products. You never know, they might entice you back with vouchers!
The trick is to only use coupons for things you’d normally buy anyway, or your shopping bill could soon add up.
Use loyalty cards
It’s a good idea to shop around, but at the same time, loyalty can pay off. Loyalty cards can help you to rack up points at your favourite supermarket, which can lead to some juicy savings. Just make sure no deals persuade you into buying something you wouldn't normally purchase.