Lots of people said they found one of my recent posts about saving money on our weekly shop pretty helpful (‘We Cut Down Our Family Food Shop to £25 Per Week – And Now There’s No Looking Back! Here’s How…‘) which is, obviously, bloomin’ awesome!
So I thought I’d follow it up (sort of) with a few little tips and tricks on exactly how we stick to our shopping budget. I touched on a few things here in the previous post, but hopefully this goes into a little more detail and is useful enough to perhaps give you one or two ideas on how to save a few extra quid on your own food shop.
Make full use of scan ‘n’ go.
Many supermarkets now offer an in-store system where you pick up a little handset and scan the items yourself as you shop, then simply connect the scanner to a till at the end of your shop and pay the total.
As well as being super quick and convenient, this fairly new way of shopping can really help you save money. As you scan the item, its price will show on the screen and you can keep an eye on the total cost of your trolley as you go. This can be incredibly useful if you’re trying to be mindful of how much you’re spending and can stop you going over budget. We all know how easy it is to just pull things off the shelves and end up spending way more than planned, so these scan and go systems are a pretty handy tool.
Stay away from the reduced section, unless you have lots of willpower.
This might sound like an unusual one. It’s fair to say the reduced section of the supermarket does have some great price cuts and if you stumble across a good bargain then it’s well worth it.
But the problem with the reduced section is that it also persuades us to buy things we don’t really need. I don’t think I’ve ever been lucky enough to find anything from my shopping list hidden in the reduced section, but I have found plenty of other tempting treats lurking there, like half price ready meals and cream cakes. That’s all well and good, but if you’re looking to keep costs at a minimum you’re likely to be swayed into spending unnecessary pennies in this aisle so, unless you’ve got tremendous willpower, I’d say you’re better off just steering clear altogether.
Don’t forget about the world food aisle.
You might think that going for supermarket value brands is always going to be the cheapest options and, in the majority of cases, you’d be right. But there are a few ingredients you can actually pick up at a cheaper price if you just check out the world food aisle.
Black beans, for example, are 65p in ASDA if you go for the supermarket brand. However, in the world food section you’ll find a tin of Sammy’s Black Beans exactly the same size for 50p. Again, 400ml of ASDA coconut milk will cost you 79p whereas 400ml of Caribbean Choice coconut milk comes in at just 63p. This isn’t the case with every product, but it’s a similar story in most major supermarkets and is worth having a look to save some extra money. Check on comparison websites (mysupermarket.com is always a good shout!) to find the cheapest option before you shop.
Be careful bulk buying fruit and vegetables.
Large, prepackaged bags of onions, potatoes, apples, bananas, etc. can seem quite good value for money, and that’s because they often are. If you quite regularly use fresh ingredients when you cook, or your family eat quite a lot of one particular fruit or veg, buying in bulk is great value for money.
But be careful with this. If you only need one or two portions of a certain fruit or vegetable, it’s probably worth just picking up exactly what you need. It might not strike you as the best value option at first, but think about whether you’re going to actually eat it all. If it’s going to go off and get thrown out, then that’s the absolute opposite of saving money. Basically, the advice here is if you’re using a large quantity of a particular produce then buy in bulk but, if you’re not, just pick up what you need from the loose fruit and veg crates so nothing goes to waste.
Don’t buy so much meat!
I’m not just saying this as a veggie – I’m saying this as someone who only turned veggie because they literally couldn’t afford to buy meat! Even without taking anything else like ethics or the environment into consideration, you’ve got to admit that cutting down on meat will almost always equal cutting down on costs.
Even if you don’t go full-on veggie, you can always just consider making some swaps here and there to save a few pennies. For example, in ASDA (I’m using this supermarket again because it’s my local), 500g of even the cheapest, fattiest mince costs £1.89, while a 454g packet of their own brand meat-free mince costs only £1.50 and has waaay less fat in it (500g of leaner, lower fat mince ranges from £2.28 to £3.31!). Also, you can get 6 Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets (approx. 300g) for £1.70, whereas 250g of actual chicken mini fillets costs £1.99. See, we’re not just pushing an agenda – it really can save you money!