Do you struggle to keep your spending down when it comes to your grocery shopping? I’ve been there! For so long, I was spending way too much each and every week in the supermarket, and it was eating a serious hole in my budget.
We all want to make sure that we’re feeding our families well, giving them nutritious meals, and that no one feels that they’re going without.
The good news is that you can save money on your grocery shopping without feeling that you’re being deprived.
Here are some of the tactics that I’ve used to slash my supermarket spending…
1. LOOK OUT FOR YELLOW STICKER BARGAINS
Towards the end of the day, many supermarkets slash the prices of the items that are due to expire the next day. You can shop the fridge section to fill up your freezer, and pay significantly less for items that are typically more expensive, like meat. This can be a great way to stock up on treats and luxuries without it costing you the earth.
2. ALWAYS PLAN YOUR WEEKLY MEALS IN ADVANCE
If you know what you’re eating every night of the week, you buy nothing that you don’t need. This means less waste, and more money in your pocket. I’ve learned that the secret to sticking with this is to build in a little flexibility. So I’ll know that I’m cooking chicken on a Monday night, for example, but I’ll have a variety of side dishes in the freezer to choose from when the times comes. This way, it doesn’t become too restrictive.
3. DOWNGRADE YOUR BRANDS
Often, we’re paying more purely because of the name that’s on the label. When it comes to staples like tinned tomatoes and beans, there’s rarely a noticeable difference between the brands. If you’re buying premium, downgrade to the supermarkets’ own brand, and see what you think. From there, downgrade again to the budget lines.
4. TRY OUT THE BARGAIN SUPERMARKETS
If you’re shopping in places like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, you’ll be amazed at how much you can save by ditching that habit and visiting stores like Aldi and Lidl. Keep an open mind, and remember that you’re likely to discover new favourite items that you’d never even considered before.
5. SEEK OUT COUPONS FOR YOUR FAVOURITE ITEMS
Couponing isn’t anywhere near as popular here in the UK as it is on the other side of the pond, but there are still plenty of offers out there that you can take advantage of. A great place to start is Money Saving Expert’s supermarket coupons page. It’s updated regularly, and there’s always a ton of discounts for you to get your hands on.
6. BUY IN BULK AND STICK YOUR MEALS IN THE FREEZER
Buying large quantities of items is often much cheaper. Use that to your advantage and spend a few hours on a weekend batch cooking your favourite meals, and freezing them for the next few weeks. This way, there’ll be less stress after work, and less spending.
7. AVOID SHOPPING WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY
If you go to the supermarket feeling ravenous, then you’ll buy loads of stuff that you simply don’t need. If you go after a meal when you’re feeling satisfied, you’re much more likely to make logical buying decisions.
8. LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME
If you’ve ever taken your kids to the supermarket before, then you’ll know that it can be seriously stressful. It’s hard to focus on the task in hand, and you’re also likely to find yourself giving in when they ask if they can chuck a few extras into the trolley. If possible, do your shopping whilst they’re at school, or being taken care of by a family member.
9. MAKE MORE MEALS FROM SCRATCH
Convenience is something that you’ll pay a premium for, so it makes sense to avoid ready meals and anything that’s pre-prepared for you in advance. You don’t have to be Jamie Oliver to cook things from scratch. Keep it simple, but don’t be afraid to try out new dishes and expand your repertoire.
10. AVOID TOP-UP SHOPS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK
Top-up shops often lead us to buy stuff we simply don’t need. Try to make a commitment to hitting the supermarket just once a week, and getting everything you need to create nutritious meals and snacks for the week ahead. You could save a significant amount of money just by avoiding that supermarket dash on your way home from work, that you only do out of habit anyway.
11. SHOP YOUR OWN KITCHEN CUPBOARDS
You might be amazed at what you can pull together from the contents of your cupboards and freezer. If you’ve got tinned tomatoes, pasta, and a few herbs, you could create a really simple but delicious Italian dish. If you have rice and chicken, you could make a beautiful twist on Paella. Make the commitment to avoiding the supermarket for a week or two, and using up the items that you already have.
12. WATCH OUT FOR EXPIRY DATES
How many times have you ended up chucking stuff in the bin, because you realised that they were past their best? This can be avoided completely in a few ways. First of all, make sure that you always pick items with the longest shelf life when you’re shopping – these can usually be found towards the back of the shelf. Next, make sure you factor the dates into your meal planning.
13. DON’T TAKE OFFERS AT FACE VALUE
Just because there’s a so-called offer an item, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best value for money. Always refer to the price per kg where possible to make a representative comparison. And remember, an item isn’t a bargain if you end up never using it!
14. GET EXPERIMENTAL WITH CHEAPER CUTS OF MEAT
Chicken thighs are often way cheaper than chicken breasts, and they’re also much more tender and flavoursome, making them ideal for dishes like curries and stews. Fillet steak might have a reputation for being the best, but stewing steak can be just as special if it’s slow cooked. Instead of always going for the option that you’re most comfortable with, experiment a little!
15. BULK OUT DINNERS WITH BEANS AND PULSES TO MAKE THEM GO FURTHER
When I’m making chilli con carne, I always chuck in a tin of kidney beans, and a tin of good old baked beans. This means that I get an extra 2 or 3 portions out of the meal, and I’m only spending an extra few pennies. I wasn’t too sure how this would work out when I first tried it, but it was hardly noticeable, and made a very enjoyable meal.
16. BUY IN-SEASON PRODUCE
Now that we can get most produce all year round, we don’t tend to shop by season anymore. When you do though, it’s loads cheaper, and you’ll also notice a great improvement in quality. Have you ever bought strawberries in the winter? They’re often flavourless and bland. Get them in the summer when they’re beautiful and sweet.
17. IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE CHEAPER BRAND, DON’T BUY IT
Yes, cheaper brands can save you a fortune. But if you’ve tried it and you really don’t like it, don’t continue to buy it. You won’t use it, and it’ll go to waste. Sometimes, it makes sense to pay a little bit more if it means that you’re going to get something that won’t just sit at the back of your cupboard.
18. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR RECEIPT BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE STORE
Occasionally, you’ll be charged too much for your shopping, or an offer won’t go through properly. It’s fairly rare, but it’s always worth checking before you leave the store. That way, you can get the issue rectified there and then.
By putting these tactics into use, you could save hundreds of pounds each and every month on your food shopping. Will you be trying these out? And which do you think will make the biggest difference to your budget?