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Every penny counts for us at the moment. We are lucky in that a lot of our outgoings are not huge but I have to be careful and to cut costs where I can so that we can eat well for less. Over the last couple of years, I have got it down to the fine art. I thought I would share my tips for saving money on your food shopping.
1. Meal plan and write a list before you go shopping. I would say that, wouldn't I? But trust me, knowing what you're going to cook and only buying what you need saves a fortune because you waste much less. I start by checking what's left in the cupboards, fridge and freezer, add recipes that will use them to my meal plan, then write a list of things to buy that I don't have already. Then I add regulars in, like bread, butter, milk, yogurts etc.
2. Use vouchers where you can. The supermarkets are fighting for your business at the moment and often have money off vouchers which they'll give you when you shop or via post or email. Consider which is going going to give you the cheapest shop. I mean, I noticed Tesco offering £10 vouchers for an £80 shop - I rarely spend £80 in one shop so that's no use to me - I would have to buy extra to get the discount. I've been getting £6 off a £30 shop which is more useful; it brings my bill down to around £40, sometimes less, whereas the Tesco offer would mean my bill is £70.
3. Don't shop in a rush, and don't shop hungry. Most of us are short of time, but try not to do a shop that is the equivalent of a trolley dash. Grabbing the first thing you see doesn't give you time to compare different brands and work out the cheapest deal. I check everything I buy to check it offers best value, depending on how much I have to buy and how fast we use it. It's also a well known fact that you buy more when hungry. If you do have to shop straight after work and you're hungry, try to have a snack before you go. Stay away from the supermarket if you're ravenous.
4. Try buying cheaper ranges. Go on, give them a try. Often value ranges are exceptionally cheap and the quality is not always as bad as you think. Try them and see what you think. If it is not for you, then fair enough, but if you like it, you will save money and not notice the difference. Ranges are really variable and it all comes down to personal taste.
5. Use multibuy bargains advisedly. If the cheapest way is to buy items in multibuy bargain formats, stop and think. It's fine if you're going to use them all before it goes off, but if not, you'll be wasting money. Also, some multibuy offers aren't huge - saving 10p for buying 2 is nothing - and you could still save more buying a different brand.
6. Go for reduced price bargains but only if you can use them. I love bargains but only if they work for me. It's very tempting to buy something that's slashed in price because it's reaching its use by or best before date - but not if you can't use it before it goes off. I get round this by freezing as much as I can - especially useful for bakery items, meat and fish. If not, make sure you eat it quickly. Don't get carried away by those yellow labels - some supermarkets actually take very little off the original price in the hope that you'll buy it, then reduce it more as the day goes on. The best time for the best bargains is tends to be after 8pm in 24 hour supermarkets, especially on Mondays and Thursdays. If it's been reduced by little, it's probably worth spending the extra money to buy the item full price.
7. Consider joining warehouse shopping clubs for bulk purchases. We are Costco members which costs £30 per year but we easily save more than that on our food shopping and for items like kitchen rolls, it's fabulous. You have to keep your shopping head on and know what you are buying is a bargain as some aren't that much cheaper than the supermarket - and own brands can work out cheaper, but you will find some gems. For example, coconut milk is around £1.99 a tin at the moment, yet I bought a case of 6 for £4.39 last week, saving me over £8.50.
8. Don't waste food. Once you get your food home, store it properly, and bringing items with shorter dates to the front so they get used first. Use up leftovers - some recipes naturally seem to make more than the usual "Serves 4" given, so they often become lunches for me and husband - but make sure you cool leftovers quickly and refrigerate (or freeze), then reheat thoroughly. I'm a bit funny about rice so I am always wary of keeping it and it is one thing you need to be really careful about but most other things I will happily reuse. I also store sliced bread in the freezer as it can go off quickly and is mostly used for toast. Slices even defrost quickly if I want to make sandwiches.
Those are my tips. Happy saving! Don't forget also that My Family Club has a shopping section where you can find all the best discounts and offers, and you can sign up for a weekly email newsletter with the latest tips and offers. And if you have a great moneysaving tip, you could win an iPad by entering their competition here.
What tips do you have for saving money on your food shopping?
(I have been paid a fee to write this and a previous post, as well as mention them on social media. I have not been told what to write and all words and opinions are my own.)