20 August 2019

Stumped for some ideas on how you can save money on the weekly food shop? With the average weekly cost of food shopping for a typical UK household now coming in at an eye watering £91, every little opportunity for cost cutting really can go a long way.

So here are 8 simple tips for weekly food shopping on a budget.

1. Branded vs brandless

While it can be tempting to always go for the very best, top of the range branded foods, own label products really can be the way to go, with the price difference between the two being often somewhat staggering. Just because the more recognised shop brands cost more, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll taste any better or any different to a supermarkets own brand, and by cutting down on the number of branded products you buy in your weekly food shop, you could end up saving yourself a small fortune!

2. Go wonky!

Imperfect produce, otherwise known at Morrisons stores as “wonky fruit and veg”, are a great way to save money on food if you’re not overly bothered about how your potatoes are shaped! As the name implies, imperfect produce is simply regular and perfectly edible fruit and vegetables that are sold with slight imperfections; be it a strange shaped carrot or a strangely coloured apple. These imperfect looking foods taste exactly the same as your regular fruit and veg, but can be almost 40% cheaper, making the “wonky fruit and veg” route a no-brainer.

3. Avoid supermarket tricks

Supermarkets are a business and so, like any other business, they will attempt to get the most money from you that they can with some sneaky psychological trade secrets; but you can save yourself some money by staying one step ahead of them:

  • Eye Level Products: Any items you can easily see are there for a reason- they are most likely the most profitable items in the aisle. Look around, or more specifically up and down, and you might spot a better deal slightly out of sight.
  • 99p Pricing: Consumers are often drawn towards £0.99 products; the one penny difference in price tricks our brains into thinking certain products are a better deal than they actually are. Beware such sneaky pricing tricks and always look carefully to see what you’re really getting for your money.
  • Spread Out Essentials: You may have noticed how products like milk, cheese, butter, eggs and bread are always at the back of the shop. This is to provide ample opportunity for you to be distracted as you find them by unnecessary offers and deals on your way to picking up the more essential groceries. Try to adopt a ‘tunnel-vision’ as you approach the items you know you really need.
  • Unclear Signage: Supermarkets will even use unclear product signs, to trick you into buying products that might not actually be on sale. So, if you think you’ve spied a bargain, always check the shelf labels for prices to make sure the food you pick up is actually on sale, and not just near one that is!

4. Big trolleys lead to big purchases

It can be very easy to buy food and drink that you really just don’t need at the best of times, let alone when supermarkets supply such oversized shopping trolleys! Another common trick that supermarkets use, increasing the size of the shopping carts, can imply a need to fill the trolley up to get the most out of your food shop - don’t! If you know you don’t need to buy that much, use a smaller trolley or a basket to keep track of what you’re buying. Whitmore, bigger trollies also make navigating aisles slower and narrower, which in turn makes you more liable to stop and buy unnecessary items!

5. Swap out pricey proteins

Meat is one of the most expensive items that make up the average food shop, and there are many ways you can cut down on costs here. By cutting out expensive meats like beef steak and chicken breast for cheaper, tasty alternatives like ground beef and chicken thighs, you can cut down the expense of your weekly shop without sacrificing on quality. You could even consider cutting down on meat entirely, and incorporating vegetarian meals into your weekly shop, by embracing new initiatives such as such as #MeatFreeMonday. You can follow that hashtag on Twitter to find some delicious meat free meals that are as cheap as they are tasty!

6. Cook at home

It can be tricky making the time to cook up fresh meals from scratch, but if you invest the time, you can save loads of money by eating this way, as well as having a healthier diet. Over a third of the average food spend for the typical UK household goes towards either eating out or ordering takeaways; that’s a big and unnecessary expense that can be eliminated by simply taking the time to cook all your meals from scratch, using cheap groceries. Combining some of our previous tips, such as buying cheaper meats, imperfect produce and brandless products can be used to cook healthier, cheaper and tasty meals from scratch. All it takes is a little imagination, and perhaps a recipe book or two!

7. Use leftovers

Another advantage to cooking at home is the opportunity to use leftovers. Rather than buying an excessive amount of food for each day, you can often utilise leftovers to cut out the need to spend big on multiple meals. Leftover meals can be reheated for another day, and you can often use leftover meats and produce to craft completely new meals without spending a penny!

8. Plan your weekly shop

Our final tip would be to plan out exactly what you need from the supermarket before you make the trip; you could make an exact budget for what you need each week, allowing you a benchmark to stick to, and highlighting any problem areas in your weekly shop that could be cut down on. Or you could plan out your meals for every day of the week; planning your weekly food shop in this way can really help you to cut down on food waste and help to spread your ingredients out throughout the week.

So, those are 8 easy tips for saving money on food shopping which might even make you a bit healthier, too!

If you really find yourself struggling to afford your shopping week to week, or if any other areas of your personal finances are under a lot of strain, read up on our debt advice pages or find out about our short term loan options to get you through to the next pay day.

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