How to save money on your food shopping/grocery bill
How to Save Money on Your Food/Grocery Shopping Bill?! I find this is a very common question, and it can be put forward in a variety of different ways ‘helppppp me feed my cupboard-clearing snack eating monsters without dipping into the piggybank because they are eating me out of house and home…!’ No? Just me then!
In all seriousness though, it can be a real challenge to feed your family healthy, diverse meals without making you wince when the cashier reads out the total amount of your food shopping bill (I did this yesterday, I went a little bit over – Lidl changed their layout and it clearly worked! Darn!). There are many clever little tips and tricks to save money on your food/grocery shopping bill and I am happy to share them with you below.
For myself personally, I aim to keep the bill low because I would rather spend the money on something else. I LOVE food and could eat all day, but getting the prices as low as possible are super important to me, because it means that I can use the extra money towards debt payments.
Before You Go To The Shops
As I discussed in last weeks blog post (free downloadable meal planner included), meal planning will keep you on top of your food shopping (not literally…don’t squish the eggs!). If you know what you are going to be eating, you know what to buy – which means that you will not just be chucking a load of random items into your trolley that you won’t use. It’s not as boring as it sounds!
Try and plan a meat-less meal
Meat is usually the most expensive part of the food shopping. See if you can go once a week (or more!) without using meat in your meal, and see how much it saves you!
Bulk out meals
If you are using a meal with meat and want it to stretch a bit further, this can be done by bulking it out a bit more. Use carrots, lentils, beans, oats etc.
This website will enable you to compare prices across 14 different supermarkets such as Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Sainsbury’s, which can be handy if you are unsure about which supermarket will be the cheapest for you.
Look at which apps can save or make you money on your food shopping bill. A new favourite of mine is Receipt Hog which earns you money from uploading your receipts after you shop.
Try out new frugal recipes
New recipes are great because it can open you up to a new bunch of meals and flavours. Experimenting can lead to cheaper meals as well, and happier families! Check out Nosh For Students recipe book which is full of fab recipes.
During Your Shop
Use a list and stick to it
If you have meal planned, then you know what you will be eating and therefore which ingredients you need to buy. Using a list and sticking to it is the only way that you will buy what you actually need.
Go on your own
One of the best ways to save money is to go shopping on your own! You won’t have your kids or partner sneaking items into your trolley.
Take a snack with you or eat just before
Have you ever gone food shopping on an empty stomach and come back home with the contents of the entire supermarket?! You’re not alone. Research shows that we tend to buy more when we shop on an empty stomach. It’s hard to resist temptation when your stomach is rumbling, so it’s best that you fill it before shopping!
Consider changing supermarkets
The jury is out on which supermarket is the cheapest! But it’s definitely worth trying another supermarket to see if you can get your shop cheaper there. I used to shop at Sainsbury’s and bought the value items, but I have now changed to Lidl and have noticed a big difference in price and quality. Don’t forget you can look on mysupermarket but it doesn’t have all supermarkets on there. If you have a butchers or market local to you it’s always worth a look in there too.
Don’t buy brand products
We are all guilty of preferring some brand products over value ones and it can come down to using whichever products our parents used – for example my mum used to buy Fairy washing up liquid so that’s one that I would sway towards (I use Lidl’s own now!). There have been lots of experiments conducted where they do blind tests to see if people can tell the difference between brand products and supermarket own – and they usually prefer the cheapest version!
Decide whether to use cash or card
This is a totally personable preference that is to do with how good you are at sticking to your budget and meal plan. As I can stick to mine, I use a card so that I am not left with any change. But if you are not yet great at sticking to your budget, taking cash means you have to stick to that amount for your food shopping, and will encourage you to add up the cost throughout the shop.
Buy frozen food
Don’t be afraid of the freezer aisle! It will save you a lot of money because you will not throw away any food. If you are a bit apprehensive, then just give it a go and see! It is still nutritious and will save you a lot of money – especially on meat. I buy frozen chicken and frozen vegetables on every food shop. This is also where meal planning comes in handy because you will know if you have to take the meat out of the freezer in the morning to defrost.
Online or in-store?
Again this can depend on which supermarket you use and if you are good at sticking to your list or not. Online shopping can be a god-send if it is difficult for you to get to the shops because you don’t have a car, and if your shop is over a certain amount (normally around £40ish), you can get free or very cheap (e.g. £1) delivery.
If you do shop online, have a look and see if you can get cash back online. For example, I just had a quick look on Quidco and they have a deal for £5 cash back if you get a Delivery Saver plan, and £2.50 cash back for a new customer grocery order. Not a huge amount of money but it all adds up.
Home-made not shop bought
What can you make from scratch instead of buying ready made from the shop? We were guilty of buying jars of bolognese sauce but we make it from scratch now and it is really tasty! Can you make your own bread, pizza, snacks and puddings?
Work out how often to shop that works for you
Which is best for you – every week, every 2 weeks, every month? Or something different? For my family, we do a shop every 2 weeks. This means I only have to meal plan for 2 weeks when I am working it all out too. Also the timing – is going later in the evening better so that you can pick up reduced items?
Identify problem areas
This is really important in reducing money spent on food shopping. As mentioned above, cash or card may be better for you to use. Also online shopping may be better than physically entering a shop. It’s helpful to figure out where your problem areas are and to avoid them. If your problem area is popping to the shops for a top-up such as milk or bread and then buying a load of extras – get around this by buying spare UHT milk, and don’t forget that you can freeze bread too.
Use loyalty cards
Lots of supermarkets have loyalty cards such as Tesco or Sainsbury’s. Make sure that you use these on every shop and you can use the points for money off future shopping trips.
Proper storage of your food will keep it fresh for much longer
Something I do that I have been told doesn’t work (but does!) is to keep bread in the fridge. When you buy fresh fruit and vegetables, take them out of the plastic packaging and wrap in a kitchen roll or similar which stops them deteriorating as quickly.
Use cheaper shops to top up your shopping
There are various cheap shops which you can use to supplement your food shopping at a fraction of the price. Examples of this are Approved Food (check out my post, where there’s a free delivery code included) and Muscle Food who do great prices on meat. Home Bargains is fab for cheap items – it’s next to our Lidl shop so I pop in there and get my husband some packets of sweets as they are at least half the price.
Over you to guys – I would love to know how you keep your tummy and your wallet full? Tips are welcome in the comments!
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