How to save money on your food shopping
If it feels like the price of food is going up every week, you’re probably not imagining things. A combination of stubbornly high inflation and slow wage growth has really put the squeeze on consumer spending in the last 18 months forcing many to reassess how and on what they spend their hard-earned cash.
If you’re looking to save money on your food bill, why not follow the following hints and tips.
Check for cheap deals
The big supermarkets are always chopping and changing the prices of their goods, so if you’re planning a big shop a tool like mysupermarket.co.uk is great for assuring you get the best deals.
Pick your preferred supermarket (Ocado, Sainsburys, Asda, Tesco and Waitrose are featured) then select your groceries. As you make your choices you’ll be presented with a range of cheaper or similarly priced alternatives at both the store you’ve selected and at rival merchants.
Extra discounts are available in the form of voucher codes, while swapping your shopping cart from retailer to retailer just requires the click of a button. When you’re ready the site sends your information directly to the relevant online store where you can complete your purchase.
Try a different supermarket
Perhaps it doesn’t come as a surprise, but ever since the recession took a grip on the country’s economy shoppers have happily turned their attention to lesser known supermarkets. Netto, Aldi, Lidl are all attractive options for those looking for supermarkets offering cheap, good quality produce with many of their home-brand goods more than a match for alternatives at bigger retailers.
For those grocery shopping for large families, bulk buying at cash-and-carry giants such as Makro or Costco are further attractive alternatives. You’ll have to fulfil strict criteria, like owning a specific type of business, before being granted membership of the latter, but for those who do the benefits include big savings.
Buy own brand
For certain foods, there is little benefit to really low-price basic ranges; they simply don’t cut the proverbial mustard when it comes to quality. However, you shouldn’t be too proud to buy own brand products for the basics such as salt, pepper, rice, sugar and flour. SuperMarketOwnBrandGuide.co.uk is a good place to get an idea of what you should and shouldn’t be looking out for.
Change that coffee habit
You know that trip you make to Starbucks in the morning? And the midday fix at Costa? And the afternoon muffin at Nero? Well they really start to eat into your budget. Cutting costs means cutting luxuries and where better to start than frothy milk, sprinkled chocolate and caramel syrup.
Do your best to stick to a morning cuppa at home and making use of the office kitchen. For those who can’t live without a fancier caffeine fix, why not explore local independent coffee shops which traditional undercut the price of the giants quite significantly.
Pack that lunch
Spend a couple of weeks noting down your daily spend on sandwiches and lunchtime snacks and by the end of the 14 days you’ll no doubt be shuddering at the ridiculous amount you’ve spent. Granted, making a pack lunch everyday isn’t always practical, but even if you only do it a couple of times a week you could save around a tenner. Remember, just because you’re making it yourself, it doesn’t have to be boring.
If you know you won’t be able to resist the post-lunch munchies, prepare in advance. Don’t spend over the odds on bags of crisps, chocolates and cakes by making daily trips to the local newsagent, buy in bulk in advance at the supermarket when you are doing your grocery shopping. You’ll save a packet.
Grow your own
If you’ve got the means, why not trying your own vegetables? While you may not get an instant return on the time you invest, in the long term you’ll reap the benefits of fresh seasonal produce. Planting and nurturing veg is a great means of educating children in the value of food and the savings are potentially huge.
Indeed in 2011, research from the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners found that allotment holders spent an average of £202 growing vegetables and fruit which sold at £1,564 in shops.
Don’t buy class one
Sometimes the reason a product is called class two has nothing to do with the quality of its taste. Fruit and vegetables, which you should always aim to buy loose, rather than in pre-packed form, for example often get classified as class two because they don’t match a uniform size. It’s not something people care about when they chop it up, so it shouldn’t influence your thinking in the supermarket aisle.
Plan your shops
Wasteful UK residents are thought to throw away in excess of 7 million tonnes of food and drink each year, most of which could have been eaten. It’s a staggering figure which sees the average household throw out hundreds of pounds of perfectly good food a year. To learn more about how you can reduce the amount your household wastes, check out the very useful website by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
How do you save money on your shopping? Do you take pack lunches? What are your favourite money saving recipes? Let us know in the comment section below.
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