There are a few essential costs in life and food is one of them. Most of us enjoy buying groceries and cooking for the family, but often wonder how to save money on food shopping. We’re here to show you that there are plenty of great tricks, tips and secrets that can help you get more bang for your buck at the supermarket.
We thought we’d share some insights that will help you to make your hard-earned pounds go that little bit further. Below is our ultimate guide to help you save money on food shopping in the UK. Armed with these helpful hints you’ll be dancing down the supermarket aisles before you know it! So, in no particular order, here are our top food shopping money savings tips.
1. Plan your meals a week in advance. Formulate meal plans and shopping lists together, so you know that everything you buy will be eaten.
2. Buy in bulk. If there’s an offer on an ingredient you use a lot, buy a ton of it and batch cook meals for the freezer.
3. Go shopping after the discounts have been applied. Most supermarkets start discounting perishables towards the end of the day. Shop then and get the best deals.
4. Use a shopping comparison site. Online tools can help you to find out how to save money on your food shopping. They also help you find which supermarket sells the goods you often buy at the best prices.
5. Don’t always follow the ‘Sale’ signs. Offers don’t always represent the cheapest version of a particular product, so look around the store before selecting your items.
6. Think seasonal. Fruit and vegetables that are in season in the UK will be plentiful and cheaper than imported goods.
7. Choose your own. Selecting your own loose fruit and vegetables means you only need to buy what you will use – and you can choose the cream of the crop!
8. Make use of leftovers. Look for recipes for leftover food you often find yourself with, such as cheese, vegetables and cooked meat. Try baking muffins with leftover cheese and vegetables or even pureeing fruit and freezing it.
9. Look up and down. Products that offer the most profit to supermarkets are usually placed at eye level and profit to supermarkets often means less value for money for the consumer
10. Stock up on bargain items. Look for buy-one-get-one-free offers on non-perishables that you can store at home for a long time. Items such as crisps and biscuits, pasta, sauces and condiments last for months or even years in your cupboards, so if you see a great deal and you know it will be eaten, buy lots!
11. Avoid the big brands. Supermarket own-brand goods are often a fraction of the price of big brands and most people can’t tell the difference.
12. Avoid temptation. If you can, avoid walking around the entire shop and head straight for what you need to avoid buying anything not on your list.
13. Make a list. If you do just one thing to save money on your UK food shopping, make a shopping list. Heading to the shops without a list is a fast-track to an empty wallet!
14. Shop online.This helps you to avoid the temptations and merchandising tricks employed by the supermarkets. It’s often easier to stick to your list when you’re at home using a mobile app than in the aisles of the supermarket.
15. Try a discount store. Try out the heavily discounted supermarket chains such as Aldi and Lidl – you may be surprised at the quality and price.
16. Find the best own-brand products. Comparison sites such as mysupermarket.co.uk include tools to help you find the very best own-brand alternatives. Some are made by the same people as the big brands and there’s little to no difference.
17. Check out the award-winners. Take a look at the winners of the Great Taste Awards for items that taste great, but might not cost as much as you think.
18. Visit your local farmers market – at closing time. At the end of the trading day, even farmers markets can offer bargains.
19. Bulk it out. Using useful staples like lentils and couscous to add inexpensive bulk to your meals can fill you up for a lot less cash.
20. Go veggie. Meat alternatives, such as Quorn and tofu are far cheaper than buying fresh meat and are great in classics like Chilli and Bolognese.
21. Eat before you shop. If you go shopping on a full stomach you’ll be far less likely to buy unnecessary items.
22. Coupons aren’t just for grannies. When thinking about how to save money on food shopping, coupons might be an obvious place to start, but few people actually make use of them these days. Online and paper coupons can save you cash on your regular buys.
23. Save on your online shopping. Many online supermarkets, including Waitrose, Tesco and Ocado, often give new users huge discounts on their first few shops, and you’re not compelled to keep using them after the offer, so it’s a win, win.
24. Scour the online ‘aisles’ for deals. When you opt to shop online, discounts and offers are much easier to find than endlessly pacing the aisles for those elusive BOGOFs.
25. Increase your veg intake. We all know that eating more fruit and vegetables is the way to go in terms of health, but it can also help you to save money on your food shopping.
26. Try to avoid top-up shopping. If you can get all your shopping done in a single weekly shop, or delivery, you can avoid those costly top-up shops, which always seem to include extras that you never intended to buy. Croissant? Sweets? Magazine?
27. Walk to the shops. If you are heading out for a smallish food shop, walk there so you are limited to buying what you can carry home.
28. Leave the kids at home. Shopping with kids will empty your wallet faster than you can say “put that back!”.
29. Look out for ‘whoopsies’. Supermarkets will often gather products that are at their best before date, or slightly damaged, in one place, usually known as a ‘whoopsie aisle’. These products can be extremely cheap, but make sure you will actually use them before snapping them up, or it’s still money down the drain.
30. Make the most of major baby and child promotions. Most supermarkets will run baby and child promotions where they discount items like nappies, wipes and toddler food. Nappies are a great example of an item that can be bought in bulk, so make the most of the offers when they are running.
31. Buy up seasonal products, a little too late. A great time to stock up on chocolate is just after Easter when all the shops are trying to get rid of the Eggs that haven’t sold. The same goes for sweets after Halloween, etc.
32. Use your phone to check prices. Take your mobile with you so you can quickly look up prices at other supermarkets. This is especially helpful when buying more expensive items.
33. Try a new store. If you are spending too much on your shopping, try a different store. You local shop might be cheaper than the large supermarket you usually go to. Smaller doesn’t always mean more expensive.
34. Stop buying food you don’t eat. Buying food that rarely gets eaten is a mistake many of us make. If you always have old cauliflower in the fridge or are constantly throwing away your pita breads, stop buying these items and find alternatives that everyone will actually eat.
35. Freeze freeze freeze. More items are freezable that you might realise. For example, keeping your bread in the freezer can prevent wastage as it defrosts in minutes or can be toasted from frozen. Be realistic about what meat and fish you will get through before the use by date and freeze the rest.
36. Be snack clever. If you have children, your snack quota may be going through the roof. Instead of buying pricey individual packs of raisins or snack bags of crackers, buy large packs from a basic range and distribute to the kids in reusable snack pots. This is much better for the environment too!
37. Haggle like a pro. If you’re shopping at a market, the stall holders will usually be fine with a bit of friendly haggling and you never know, you might even save money on you food shopping as a result!
39. If it’s no good, take it back. You are completely within your rights to return grocery products that are sub-standard for a full refund.
40. Take advantage of loyalty schemes. Most major supermarkets run loyalty schemes that can help you save on your food shopping. The more you spend, the more points you accumulate.
41. Try ‘wombling’. Discarded receipts that have unclaimed loyalty points, will show a barcode. Most loyalty schemes will let you claim these points if you present them at the customer service desk along with your loyalty card. This is known as ‘wombling’.
42. Best before dates can often be ignored. Although ‘use by’ dates are there for your health, best before dates can often be ignored.
43. Know what you’ve got. It’ easy to rock up at the supermarket with very little idea of what you actually have in the kitchen. Do a little stocktake before your shop to avoid unnecessary purchases.
44. Make a budget and stick to it. Working with a weekly budget specifically for food can help you to shop more frugally.
45. Start making your own lunches. Get some lunch box inspiration and start taking your own lunch to work. Investing in good tupperware will help to keep your lunch ship-shape until it’s time to eat. No more soggy sandwiches!
46. Share the cost of popular items. If you live in a house share, consider sharing the cost of items such as pasta, tea, coffee, sugar and condiments, as there’s little point in having three or four of everything.
48. Use Price Guarantee offers. Many large supermarket chains will now reimburse you the difference if you can show that your shopping would have been cheaper elsewhere and even offer tools to help you check.
49. Buy from a cash and carry. If you have a large family, it might be worth shopping at a cash and carry-style store that can offer large volumes of products at knock-down prices.
50. Location location location. Where a shop is located has an impact on the prices it charges. So your waitrose shop might cost considerably less if you drive ten minutes further out of your city, for example.
51. Don’t fall for convenient packaging. Some foods are sold in convenient individual servings for massively inflated prices. Do you really need your cheese cut into mouth size wedges and wrapped in wax and plastic for five times the price?
52. Buy glass bottles, not squeezy plastic ones. Not only is it easier to get every last drop from a glass bottle, but they are far cheaper!
53. Watch out for the ‘Finest’ fraud. Supermarket premium ranges can be more expensive than pricey branded goods and the quality is often questionable.
54. Check weights. When you’re shopping for bargains and comparing products, it pays to check out the weight of the product you are getting for your money. Online shopping apps will often display the cost per weight, which can be super useful when trying to save money on food shopping.
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