We can all save money by deciding to put off that clothes shopping trip for another month or postponing a holiday – but we can’t really decide not to buy food! There are, however, lots of things you can do to ‘shop smarter’ and stretch your weekly budget a bit further. Here are our tips.
1. Buy in bulk
For non-perishable household essentials such as loo roll, kitchen roll, cleaning products and laundry detergent, it’s worth buying in bulk whenever you see an offer.
The same goes for long-dated ‘cupboard’ foods such as dried pasta and baking ingredients. Most supermarkets run two-for-one or money off promotions regularly, so if you see a particularly good offer then stock up. If you don’t have much storage space available, why not split the offer with friends?
2. Don’t get distracted!
How many times have you gone into the shop with a short list and a determined expression, and come out £50 lighter and surrounded by bags of non-essentials that just happened to be on promotion? It’s fine to be tempted by special offers, but only if you know you’re going to use them up. A two-for-one deal on family bags of salad, for example, may just result in you throwing one bag away.
Supermarkets use all sorts of clever tricks to place products where they’ll be most tempting – for example, putting the most popular brands of biscuits at eye level to encourage you to grab a pack. Try not to shop when you’re hungry, and try not to take a spouse with you unless they can be relied upon not to sweep catering-sized packs of crisps into the trolley when your back’s turned!
Be resolute, and stick to your list – and if you don’t need to shop for certain things, don’t even go down those aisles.
3. Shop online
Following on from point two above, shopping online is one way not to buy more than you need. Set up a monthly shopping list and buy all your heavy, bulky items included bottled drinks and tinned food, then top it up with the occasional fresh food shop in person.
Another advantage here is that you’ll get all the heavy stuff delivered to your door, and have to make fewer trips yourself, saving on fuel.
4. Compare prices
If you’re planning to stock up with something in particular then it’s well worth checking out price comparison websites such as mySupermarket.co.uk. Prices are updated daily, so you can be sure you won’t miss out on promotions and the latest deals.
5. Be savings savvy
Ever wondered what happens to out of date or end of line food? Some of it goes to retailers such as ClearanceXL and Approved Food, who specialise in selling bargain groceries to consumers. It might be short dated, unwanted stock, or clearance products that didn’t sell – but it’s all usable, and available at rock bottom prices.
Stock up on store cupboard essentials, including groceries and toiletries. Some of the best deals involve buying a serious amount of product, so once again team up with friends if you don’t want to be eating up the same type of pasta shapes for the rest of the year!
6. Shop around
If you haven’t yet become a convert of ‘budget’ supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, it’s well worth a trip. Aldi was voted ‘best supermarket in the UK’ for 2018 by independent consumer experts Which?, and offers good value for money on basics.
If you don’t live very near a budget supermarket, it’s still work making the trip once a month or so to stock up on essentials, before buying fresh food more locally.