Completing your weekly shop can be a costly affair if you go into it without a plan. It may sound old fashioned but, by planning ahead, you can cut the cost of your weekly shopping quite drastically. Whilst it is the supermarkets’ role to make you spend as much money as possible and entice you into buying products that you don’t really need; in this article, we aim to show you 10 easy ways you can cut your weekly shopping bill and keep the savings for your family. By following the tips below, you should be able to save yourself a lot of money over the year.
1) Take the downshift challenge
There is quite a lot of stigma involved with own brand products with debates on whether or not they are of a high quality. Generally, supermarkets have four main ranking brand levels
- Premium (where words such as finest and extra-special are used.)
- Branded (where brand names are the selling point.)
- Own brand (like branded products but branded by the supermarket.)
- Value (where words such as basic and savers are used.) it’s easy to see why you might question this but just how true is it?
Value products are the cheapest products you can buy and premium are the most expensive. Most people, however, opt for branded products, names they know and trust, but just because they are a big brand name doesn’t necessarily mean they are any better than lower brand levels.
For some foods, it’s only natural that some will be higher quality than others; however, for basics, there really is very little difference other than the packaging and, of course, the price. Basics consist of foods such as flour, pasta, rice, sugar, salt, butter, cheese, oats and tinned goods. Almost all everyday items included in your weekly shop can be found in the basics range or own brand range providing you with the perfect opportunity to save some money.
For those worried about the quality of such products, take the downshift challenge, where you choose the product level below what you normally would, to see if you can taste the difference. If you can’t, why pay for the more expensive product?
Remember that the supermarkets want you to spend money and, therefore, put the expensive brands at eye level. Dig deep and search the lower or higher shelves to escape being sucked into their game.
2) Avoid pre-packaged foods
Pre-packaged foods tend to be much more expensive than if you bought the food loose, and there is usually a lot of packaging to dispose of too. Buying cooked meats from the deli in the supermarket or visiting the butcher can help reduce costs here.
Salad, fruit and vegetables are also often bought pre-packaged but these, too, can be bought loose and for less. Other expensive pre-packaged foods include ready meals that can be cooked in the oven or microwave. Although convenient, it is much cheaper (and healthier) to make the meal yourself using fresh ingredients.
3) Class One or Class Two?
Some fruit and vegetables are placed into either ‘class one’ or ‘class two’ product categories, based on the ‘quality’ of the product. Don’t be fooled by this, as the difference between a class one and class two banana, for example, is simply its size. Class two bananas are slightly smaller in size and so are placed in a lower category at a reduced price. The quality and the taste of the banana is just as good as those in class one. This is the same for wonky carrots and other products.
4) Bulk buy frozen and non-perishable goods
Sometimes bulk buying items can help you to save money, particularly when bought from cash and carry stores, such as Costco and Makro. These shops buy their goods in bulk and then sell them at reduced prices, giving you more for your money. This is great for meat products that can be frozen, sauces that can be stored away, washing powder/softener and cleaning products.
5) Shop around at cheaper supermarkets
There are a lot of different supermarkets that you can choose to shop at, and all of them are competing against each other. Don’t be afraid to use them all to find bargains and cheaper items.
Supermarket prices fluctuate on a daily basis so some items can be cheaper in one shop than the other.There are some supermarkets that tend to be cheaper all year all round. Aldi and Lidl are very much in the limelight at the moment thanks to their brilliant range of products at affordable prices.
6) Is BOGOF false economy?
‘Buy one – get one free’ offers are another way of enticing customers into buying more products. Although the deal sounds good, sometimes it can do more harm than good. Quite often customers get excited over the offer and end up taking too much food home which can end up going to waste.
You should make sure that the products you are buying on such offers can be stored without the worry of them going off.
7) Reduce your food waste
A lot of food goes to waste when it really doesn’t need to. It is estimated that the UK throws away 15 million tons of food each year, amounting to £12.5 billion ($18 billion USD) – in the USA, the annual the value of wasted food is $165 billion (£115 billion) the equivalent of each person throwing away 20lbs of food each month.
That is a staggering amount of food to go in the bin especially when the vast majority of it is still edible. Instead of throwing away leftovers, freeze them for another day or take them to work for your lunch. The likes of onion and garlic where the whole bulb hasn’t been used can be blended and frozen so that you can use the rest at a later date when you need to.
8) Use cheaper cuts of meat
When making stews, casseroles and other slow cooked meals, it isn’t necessary to use expensive cuts of meat. Cheaper cuts such as lamb neck, beef brisket and ox cheek have a higher fat content which is needed for adding more flavour to the dish. The meat also becomes very soft and almost falls apart for a tasty and satisfying meal.
9) Save with special offers & coupons
Make use of special offers and coupons that you come across. Any money off your food shop is a bonus and, if you get enough of them, you can save quite a bit. You can search for coupons in magazines, newspapers, coupon sites, apps and through supermarkets’ social media pages.
10) Shop with a list and on a full stomach
Always write a shopping list before you visit the supermarket. This prevents you from buying things that you already have in the house and allows you to plan ahead for meals you want to make that week.
If you are hungry when you visit the supermarket, statistics tell us that you are much more likely to fill your trolley with food you don’t actually need. Besides putting in the food for your weekly shop, you will be also putting in extras that your hunger is tempted by. Always go on a full stomach.
If you take our advice and use these 10 tips to cut your weekly shopping bill, you will find you make considerable savings over the course of the year. If you have any advice of your own, please let us know in the comments below.
Author E Clark