The average UK family of four spends an eye-watering £140 a week at the supermarket. That equates to £1,680 per year, which is about 6% of the average salary and is more than the average UK dual fuel gas and electricity bill of £1,344. Fortunately it’s very easy to cut these costs, and as an added bonus it will also mean that you and your family will be eating healthier as well. Here are 12 ways that you can use to save money on your food shop starting from today.
When it comes to finance, those who spend the time to plan their course of action are usually the ones that come out ahead. Shopping for food and groceries is no exception. Spend a few minutes to sit down and plan what meals you want to cook for the week ahead, and what ingredients you will need to cook them. You can then check your cupboards at home to see what you already have, which will leave you with a list of items that you actually need. By having a list of items to shop for you will be less likely to deviate and splurge on something that you don’t need.
If you’re serious about saving money on your weekly food shop, then you should be doing it online as opposed to going to your nearest supermarket. Not only will this save you valuable time (as much as 3 hours per week), but you will also be saving money in a number of different of ways. Firstly, the small delivery charge will often outweigh the cost of driving your car to the supermarket – especially if you take advantage of the delivery passes that most supermarkets offer. Shopping online will also mean that you’re not spending as much time browsing, which is the main reason that people overspend in the supermarkets by buying items that they originally did not intend to buy. When you shop online you just decide what you want, search for it, and then add it to your trolley without being tempted by other appetising items.
The more times you shop, the more times you will have to fight the temptation to buy items that you usually wouldn’t buy. Therefore shopping once a month instead of weekly means that you will have four times fewer opportunities to overspend. Shopping monthly also has the added bonus of allowing you take advantage of bulk deals on your household’s staple items.
Don’t Forget the Pound Shops
Although it’s convenient to buy all of our household food and groceries in one place, it’s not always the cheapest way to do things. Many toiletries can be purchases considerably cheaper in pound shops and other discount stores. By taking an extra shopping trip once every few weeks to stock up on toiletries, cleaning products and other ambient goods you could save yourself a fortune over the course of a year.
Ignore the Promotions and Deals
More often than not, whenever you see a good deal or promotion in the supermarket, there is a very good reason for it. Supermarkets want to make a profit just like any other business, so it doesn’t make sense for them to sell highly popular items at a discount without an ulterior motive. Usually a product will be on offer either because it is unpopular, or because it’s a sneaky way of getting customers to buy more than they usually would in order to boost sales. If you want to save money when you’re shopping for food, then your best bet is to ignore all deals and promotions unless they are for something that you regularly buy. If this is the case, then make sure that the date code is long enough that you can stock up on them without increasing your normal rate of consumption.
Buy Seasonal Produce
When it comes to fruit, vegetables and other produce it makes sense to only buy whatever is in season at the time. While it is nice to have fresh strawberries every Sunday morning, it can be expensive during the winter months when it is impossible to grow them in the UK, so they have to be imported at significant extra cost. By eating produce that’s in season you will get a lot more for your money and you will also come to realise that contrary to popular belief, healthy fruit and vegetables are not actually that expensive. When it comes to buying staples such as potatoes, onions and carrots then it is usually far cheaper to buy large bulk bags – providing you know that you will be able to get through them.
Avoid Readily Prepared
When it comes to food, anything that has had some degree of preparation prior to you buying it will be heavily inflated in price. That goes for everything from ready meals (which you shouldn’t be eating anyway if you’re concerned about your health), to pre-cut meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. For the sake of spending a few extra minutes preparing your food you can save yourself a lot of money, as the majority of pre-prepared vegetables costs up to four times as much as the unprepared version.
Check Unit Prices
Always do the simple maths to work out which deal is best when the same item is available in different packaged quantities. Usually this will involve working out the price per gram or millilitre of the products. It may be a bit of extra work but it is a guaranteed way to save money on your shopping. After doing this for a while you will see that many of the so called ‘deals’ offered by the supermarkets are not that great value for money after all.
Avoid Branded Items
We’re not necessarily talking Smartprice sausages of budget beans here. Many supermarkets have their own version of branded products that are similar if not identical to the originals, but at a fraction of the price. When it comes to staple foods such as rice, pasta and flour it makes no sense at all to spend more money on fancier packaging. If there are certain branded products that you c consider yourself loyal to, then don’t deprive yourself of these. Just by switching away from the branded versions of a few items a week you will see the savings come rolling in.
When it comes to physical coupons, we don’t use them as much here in the UK as they do in the USA. However that doesn’t mean that you can’t save money on the things that you usually buy. You don’t have to go hunting or clipping coupons in order to get money off of your regular purchases. In fact, many companies include coupons within their packaging so you can save money on your next purchase. Most people just throw packaging away without thinking about it so it’s well worth checking the labels on tins of food or inside the boxes of cereal for a money off coupon inside.
Collect Reward Points
Virtually all supermarkets have their own version of a loyalty card these days. While the savings may seem paltry, over time they add up and you could find that every year or two you’ve got enough loyalty points to buy a whole week’s worth of food. Not bad, considering you just sign up and then forget about it once you’ve registered your card online. This is effectively free money so if you shop in the same place regularly then you’d be a fool not to take advantage.
Check the Receipt
Whenever you shop in the supermarket or online how often do you check the receipt to make sure that the prices are the same as they were stated when you were shopping? We often take for granted that the people in the supermarkets are doing everything correctly, but like us they are only human and can sometimes make mistakes. By checking your order every week you may find that you’re paying for items that you’re not even receiving, and that the problem can be rectified easily if you notice within a day or two of receiving your goods.