9 tips on how to save money on your weekly supermarket food shop
The average UK household spends £58 a week on food and non-alcoholic drinks, according to the Office of National Statistics.
In other words: feeding a family is expensive. Very expensive.
But are you paying more than you need to?
To help you keep the costs down, we’ve put together a guide on how to save money on your weekly food bill.
You don’t need to be a penny pincher, just follow our nine easy steps and enjoy that extra wad of cash in your back pocket.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
It sounds so simple we can’t even believe we’re saying it.
As the Snickers advert says: 'you’re not you when you’re hungry', and you will end up buying food you don’t need.
Plan your meals
Knowing the ingredients you need before shopping can mean big reductions in your overall food bill.
So grab your pen and paper and write out a list – you won’t regret it when you get to the till.
Planning your meals also forces you to check what food you’ve already got in the cupboard.
You won’t buy duplicate products, and will cut down on both cost and waste.
Discarded food costs households £470 a year, according to food charity Love Food Hate Waste.
Get into the habit of frequently checking sell-by dates. Fish, meat and ready meals are pricey – so if they’re near their perishable dates, shift them into the freezer.
This will save you chucking them, and buying more.
* Don’t keep milk in the fridge door – it gets warmed up whenever the door is opened
* Wrap vegetables in aluminium foil – it could make them last up to four weeks longer
* And remember: the best before date relates to food quality – things like taste, texture, and appearance.
* Eating food one day after its expiry date will not kill you. In fact, it’s unlikely to be harmful at all.
* Get creative with leftovers. At the very least, uneaten ham, for example, would make a tasty sandwich.
* If you have some of your meal left, freeze it and eat it as a ready meal at a later date.
Shop around for the best price
Compare the prices at different supermarkets. Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons, Waitrose and Tesco may all be better than each other for certain items.
You might be thinking, 'That sounds a bit of an effort. Can I be bothered to flit around different stores to save 20 pence on my carrots?'
Well there are tools to help.
mySupermarket.co.uk allows you to compare the cost of basket goods at the UK’s major supermarkets.
And here’s the clever bit: if you find an item cheaper than one already in your basket, it will switch it for you.
It’s the oldest trick in the book: going to the supermarket late in the day to pick up the bargains.
From midday onwards you can feast on ‘reduced to clear’ items that are due to go out of date that day.
Also, stay on top of the latest deals using mySupermarket's offers section.
Buying items on offer in bulk can be a long term money saver but, in some cases, can have bizarre consequences.
Take Rita Patel, who was banned by Ocado after she purchased eight packs of nappies online.
“Their finance team, who didn’t believe I would need that quantity of nappies, cancelled the order.
“This despite their website stating up to twenty promotional items could be purchased of each product”.
After we took up her case, Ocado backed down, and offered Rita free delivery on her next order and £25 credit on her account.
Oh, and yes, they let her buy the nappies.
Coupons and Vouchers
There are many ways to pick up coupons - and using them shrewdly can mean BIG savings. We advise you try:
* Supermarket magazines
* Online websites – check out freestuff.co.uk
Collect those store reward cards like they’re going out of fashion – they’re a great way to shave money off your bill.
There are also plenty of apps that give you cashback after shopping. We like CheckoutSmart – just snap your receipt and watch cash roll into your bank or PayPal account.
TIP: When a discounted item is out of stock, the supermarket may give you a voucher for a similar product at the same discounted price, or promise you the offer again when the item is restocked. They don't HAVE to do this - so we advise turning on the charm offensive.
Go for cheaper brands
If a product is a supermarket own brand it doesn't mean it’s less tasty – but it nearly always means it’s cheaper.
For basic ingredients like flour and oats, even the most discerning palate would struggle to taste any difference.
And it’s not just food. Toiletries and cleaning products can be far cheaper when you buy own brand.
TIP: Avoid ready meals – they’re always more pricey than making the meal from scratch
Understanding price differences
Price match promises that if you can prove you could have got an item for less at another store, a supermarket will off you a discount.
Get into the routine of scanning your loyalty card – it could pay dividends.
Be warned: internet prices fluctuate throughout the day, and may be different in store to online. The online total is only a guide price. Remember this, and you avoid nasty surprises at the till.
If your food isn’t up to scratch, let the company know about it.
“I was about to proceed to the checkout when I was horrified to find that there was a fly nesting inside my cheesy roll packet”, said Francis.
The video and picture evidence Francis uploaded
“Naturally I was horrified at this, and I immediately worried for the general standards of health and safety at this my local supermarket”.
Morrisons responded in just three days, apologized, and assured Francis they were investigating.
If you’ve been dissatisfied with your food purchases, get in touch with A Spokesman Said.
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