The cost of living crisis is growing at a worrying pace. Many people are looking to shrink their budget in any way they can. One way to do this is to save money on your weekly food shop – a large expense for most households.
Saving money on your food shop can be a daunting task. And stressing about affording food is horrible. This post won’t cure food poverty sadly. But, it might help you if you need to save some extra money each week.
This post contains 6 easy ways to save money on your weekly food shop.
- Meal plan
- Where to shop to save money
- Use coupons and loyalty points
- Move away from name brands
- Get free food
- Do a kitchen audit
Meal planning may not sound like the most fun task, but it does work.
Work out what you’re going to cook each day for a week and then tailor your shopping list to fit what you need. This will reduce your food waste – which is also good for the environment – and in turn your shopping bill.
The hard bit is sticking to the plan. To counter temptations, I add in ‘fakeaways’ and budget for the odd chocolate bar. This way I’m less tempted to deviate from the plan as there is always something nice to look forward to.
With meal planning, also try and cut out little trips to the shop to buy extras. It’s very easy to pop in on the way home from work to buy one item and end up spending £15 on other bits you fancy.
Cut out these trips and you’ll find your food expenditure will fall. You may also be healthier for it!
Where to shop to save money
Where you shop will have an impact on how much you spend.
Shopping in places like Aldi and Lidl may well be cheaper than supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsburys. It’ll almost certainly be cheaper than more ‘upmarket’ brands like Waitrose.
Aldi and Lidl offer good quality products at cheaper rates. You probably won’t notice the difference when you’re eating, but your bank balance will thank you!
The cheapest supermarket for you will depend on what you buy. It will also depend on where you live. Prices vary over the country – as a general rule, London is the most expensive!
When working out the most cost effective place to shop, you can’t just look at the end food bill. Aldi may be £5 cheaper than Tesco, but if – for example – you have to drive an extra 30 minutes and pay parking when you get there, it could end up being more expensive.
Look at all your food-related outgoings when trying to work out the best place to shop to save more money.
If you’re not sure which supermarket will be most cost effective for you and your family, you could do your own price check.
Do your weekly shop in 2 or 3 different supermarkets and see which one ends up the cheapest. For this to be effective, try and keep your shopping basket similar each week and don’t forget to take into account transport and parking costs.
Use coupons and loyalty points
One way to save money on your weekly food shop is to make the most of all coupons and loyalty points you’re given.
Sign up for your chosen supermarkets store card and swipe it every time you shop to make sure you don’t miss out on any deals.
It’s also worth reading through all the emails you’re sent, just in case there’s vouchers or offers included in them.
A lot of shops tailor offers to you based on your shopping habits, so you should be able to use these vouchers to your advantage.
Move away from name brands
It’s tempting in supermarkets to opt for well-known brands that you see on adverts. However, with these you tend to just be paying for the brand name.
Switching to cheaper brands – or often the supermarket’s own brand – will save you a lot of money. You are unlikely to notice a big difference in your food too.
For example, if your buying pasta sauce move away from Dolmino. In Tesco one jar costs £1.80 Tesco’s own brand is much cheaper at £1.00. That’s over 44% cheaper.
Making these swaps on even a quarter of your food shop could therefore save you a significant sum.
Get free food
One of my favourite ways to save money on your weekly food shop is to get free food.
This may sound too good to be true, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re unlikely to get your full food shop for free, but you may be able to pick up a number of items without spending any money each week.
My favourite app to use for free food is Olio. Users can list items they have going spare or have “saved” from supermarkets which would otherwise be thrown away. You can then request these items for free.
Another way of getting free food is Shopmium. I have not tried it yet, but a lot of people I know get some really good freebies each week.
Do a kitchen audit
An audit may sound intimidating, but don’t be put off. Essentially, you just need to work out – and then document – exactly what you have left in your kitchen.
Account for all the oils, flours, sauces, spices, and anything else you have lurking in cupboards.
This exercise serves two purposes.
Firstly, it stops you duplicating purchases and buying items you already have but have forgotten about.
Secondly, you can tailor your meal planning towards what you already have in. Look at expiration dates and see what is about to go off. Use these ingredients as the basis for a meal in the next few days. This will reduce both your food waste and monetary waste.
Doing this regularly should allow you to save more money on your weekly food shop.
A final request…
Times are very tough for a lot of people right now. If you do find you have some money left over each month, do consider donating to your local foodbank. They are happy to accept both physical and monetary donations. Buying an extra bag of pasta might not make much difference to you, but it could be the difference between a family eating and going hungry.
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