I’ve put together 10 simple ways to cut down on your food shopping bill that everyone can do. Even if you just implement one or two of these and save a fiver a week that’s more than £250 over the course of the year! You can find my eBook 50 Ways to Slash Your Supermarket Spending here.
1 Meal plan. My best piece of advice is meal planning. We go shopping fortnightly so I make sure before we go I’ve written 2 weeks worth of meals and whatever ingredients we’ll need. Go through your freezer and cupboards first to make sure you’re not buying anything unnecessarily and try to use up what you’ve got before spending more. I find we’re not tempted to indulge in takeaways if we’ve got a fridge full either, which is obviously much better for your waistline, too!
2 Drop a brand. There are four types of product in a supermarket; premium (Tesco’s Finest etc), branded (Heinz, Kellogg’s etc) supermarkets own and basic (usually with a cheap, white label to make them look unappealing!) Try shifting down a brand, premium to branded, branded to own brand and so on. Swapping from Heinz pack of 4 baked beans at £2 to Tesco’s own at 99p could save you over £50 a year and I doubt you’ll even taste the difference!
3 Bulk out meals. Vegetables are obviously much cheaper than meat, so in one-pot meals like casseroles, bulk them out with lentils, beans or veg and you’ll find your budget will stretch a lot further. Using frozen veg is even better, it can be cheaper with less waste.
4 Don’t be fooled by BOGOF. It might seem like a good deal, but only buy what you absolutely need rather than being tempted by special offers such as buy-one-get-one-free or three for two. You’ll end up spending more than you need to just because it’s made to look like you’re getting a good deal!
5 Love your freezer. Most of us probably buy too much or make too much, so leftovers are usually forgotten about at the back of the fridge til they turn blue..just me then? Invest in some Tupperware, label and freeze leftovers and get an extra meal out of them. I’m terrible at this and find them 6 months later when they’re a solid block of icey Bolognese but it’s a very important tip to reducing your bill as well as your waste. Households could save up to £400 a year if everything we bought was eaten and not thrown!
6 Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. I know from personal experience if I’m starving on a shopping trip I’ll throw allsorts of junk in the trolley and probably eat it all before we get home. However, if I’ve eaten beforehand I’ll be more focused and not be tempted by extra treats!
7 Know the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’. Firstly, ‘sell by’ is not for you, it’s for the retailer, so ignore. ‘Use by’ is for food that goes off quickly such as meat and fish, so don’t consume after this date. It’ll also have a ‘consume within x amount of days of opening’ warning. Remember, freezing means it can be consumed beyond this date so if you know you’re not going to eat it, freeze it straight away. This is when your meal plan will come in handy! However, ‘best before’ is merely advisory, and more to do with quality than safety, so these dates can be exceeded.
8 Use cashback apps. Cash back apps such as Quidco, Top Cashback and Checkout Smart allow you to receive a percentage of cashback for your purchases, for example 25p for a bottle of washing up liquid or 15p for tins of beans. It’s really worth it as it’s so easy to do and for purchases you’d be making anyway.
9 Shop online. Personally, I prefer shopping instore as I find it easier to shop around for deals and yellow stickers. However, there are often deals online that you can’t get in store. Also, it’s less tempting to impulse buy online as we tend to search from one product we need to the next and not be drawn in by unnecessary deals. If I can see my cart total increasing to more than I’d been intending to spend, I’ll take out items we could possibly do without for another fortnight which we can’t really do at the supermarket!
10 Remember, supermarkets are not your friend. It sounds dramatic, but I’m always aware when I’m shopping that a retailers main priority is getting us to spend as much money as possible. I’m not falling for it! You might notice that our staple shopping list items such as bread, milk and vegetables are never placed together. They’re all over the store to encourage us to walk through all the aisles and be tempted to pick up more items on our way. I always seem to be hunting around for eggs; they’re not with dairy products as you’d expect, they’re in a random place to make you go searching! Expensive brands are at eye level on the shelves. They pay more for this position as it’s where our eyes are drawn to, which in turn means we pay more for the product. Everything they do from the placement of products, to the temperature or smell of the store (ever wondered why most supermarkets have a bakery now?!) is to encourage you to spend, so being aware of this can have an amazing impact on your food bill!
I hope you’ve found this useful, have you got any tips to share for reducing your food bill?