As I’m sure you’ll agree, food is one of the most expensive things that we have to say for after a house and car. So with that in mind, I hope you will agree that if we can cut the costs in your food shopping bill and making the most of of the food, then that is a great place to start. These are some of my hints, tips and tricks for taking the sting out of the food shop.
Now I want to be a bit honest here, I’m not the richest of people, in fact as the main bread winner of the house, it can get very difficult and I’ve had to think about what I buy, when I’m shopping I do ask myself “Do we really need that?” or “Can that wait until I get paid?”. Well if you have been or are in a similar position, then you may be interested in some of my ways that I try and save money when I am going my food shopping.
You will see that I have blogged about a couple of the ways that I like to try and save money in the kitchen. The ways that I do this is by Meal Planning, being a Frugal Foodie and even how Wombling can Save and Make you Money.
Since using a weekly meal plan, this has helped me stick to an actual list, only making what is on that list and only having in what ingredients I need for all the meals that I am making. I would say that my shopping has reduced in cos and by a significant amount, I would say around 50%. So now my monthly shopping is around £100 – £120 a month. The only time it is a little higher is if I need to stock up on my store cupboard essentials, you can check out what I have as standard in my store cupboard.
I have found that if I bought less from the supermarket, then I would spend less, but I would also waste less as well. I found that I was making the most of the off food that I had in, I maximised my meals, which also turned out to be a lot healthier and very tasty. When I started changing my shopping andf cooking habits, it meant that I always knew what I was going to be cooking and would only use what I needed to.
I want to give you a list of some of the tips, tricks and hints that have helped me cut our food costs
Read on for more than 80 ways to save money on your food shopping, with tips on what to do before, during and after heading to the shops:
My ways to save money before food shopping
1. Stock take the cupboards, fridge and freezer(s). You need to see what foodand bits you have in already, this will help with stop you over spending on bits that you already have.
2. Use the food that needs using up first. Checking the use by dates on foods, this will help you use what you already have and should mean that you will have less waste.
3. Meal planning. Once you’ve done your stock take, make a plan of the meals for the whole week, using up what is in the cupbaords, fridge and freezer. You don’t need to have all the ingredients in for what you want to make, what you are missing, this will form your shopping list.
4. Write and stick to a shopping list. Having a shopping list will help you only get what you need and should also stop you from over spending. Your shopping list is created from the meal plan you have for the week.
5. Only buy what you need. Only buy the things you need now and not what you might need in 3 months time.
6. Check your diary / schedule. Are you out or working late this week? If you are, make sure your meal planning takes this into consideration, so you can avoid buying loads of fresh stuff if you won’t need it In your meal planning, have quick and easy meals or even slow cooker meals that can cook all day, this will save you time.
7. Lunch Plan. If you are a student or work, then planning your lunches is also important. If it can he food your made the night before, a salad, sandwich etc, make sure you plan, it’s massively cheaper than eating out or getting a supermarket meal deal every day.
8. Go veggie. Ok, I don’t mean 100% veggie, but why not a couple of meals a week, this is really healpful in saving some money too.
9. Allow for the leftovers. If you cook and have leftovers, I usually portion mine up and freeze them where possible, that way, when I want a quick cook day, all I have to do is cook some rice, pasta or potatoes and I have a great meal ready in a very short time.
10. The “Can’t be bothered” Days. We all have those days where we just can’t be bothered to cook, on those days, try and have something quick and easy in the freezer, fozen pizza’s, pre-made curries or southen fried chicken and frozen chips, this beats the temptation of a takeawat and will also save you a lot of money too.
11. Think about the waste. Look at what you throw away (salad, potatoes, etc), either buy less of them or even stop buying them full stop.
12. Make a dump list. A dump list isn’t a list of everything you throw away, but things that end up sticking around in the kitchen for ages, something that you don’t know how to cook or don’t really like. Having a dump list will help you use use those ingredients to clear the backlog form your cupboards and freezer.
13. Research recipes. You can google some recipe ideas for new and exciting recipes or at least check out some recipe ideas here.
14. Set a shopping day. Stick to a set day to do your shopping, hold out with what you have in the house. Try and stretch it out between shops so you save money on your monthly shopping spend.
15. Stop randomly shopping. If you don’t want to spend money, thn shop less often. If you pop to the shops for a loaf of bread or some milk, but it turns into £20 +, buy in bulk and freeze it, try and avoid those extra trips.
16. The substitutes. If you have run out of something for a meal, instead of running to the shops, think about a substiution. e.g run out of potates, use pasta or rice instead.
17. Use up the part packs. Do you have some part packs in your cupboards? Try and combined them into a single meal or use up when making your meals. Perfect example, a couple of different shaped pastas open, great, they are perfect for a pasta bake!!
18. Set a Budget – Set a weekly or monthly budget for your groceries, stick to it and see how much you can save.
19. Shop around. Gone are the days where you only shop in one supermarket, have a look around at different supermarkets and see where the best deals are at.
20. Swap supermarkets. Think about where you can go to save money and get a good range, Aldi is always a good alternative, they usually have a good range and a lot cheaper, you should see massive changes to your spend.
21. Take a “Fridge Pic”. Taking a picture of your fridge will help you remeber what you have already in your fridge. If you stick to your shopping list, then you should be fine.
22. Online food shop. If you have a habbit of sticking in the extra bits here and there, getting attracted by the by 2 get 2 fee deals, then online shopping may be easier for you, you can stick to your list and remove any sneeky extras that have been added, remember that online shopping has a delivery cost. Only problem is you would miss out on the reduced bits in the supermarket.
23. Online alternatives. If you have room where you can stock up on certain foods, then you should have a look at Approved Foods, that is for short dated food.
24. Don shop on an empty stomach. Don’t shop hungry, this is the worst thing you can do, you will only end up buying loads of rubbish and blowing your budget.
25. Remember your vouchers. Take your shopping vouchers with you, the money off from loyalty cards, magazine / newspaper coupons. Make sure you take these with you as they will help you save money.
26. Use shopping apps. You need to make sure that you use shopping apps such as Shopmium and Checkout Smart. Both these apps have a number of products that you can get some money back and some all your money back. It all adds up.
27. Check your voucher expiry dates. Make sure you know when you need to use certain discounts by, I get sent goone ones from Tesco’s normally near Christmas which is usually £5 – £10 off when you spend over £40, but they send 4 of these and they have to be used on certain weeks only. Check your dates.
28. Time your shop. I go shopping at a certain time, usually before the yellow stickers / reductions are near to be made. By me, the yellow stickers start at 7pm, so I aim to be there for6.30pm, so I am ready and hopefully get some good bits.
29. Take your resuable bags. Make sure you take your reusable bags, this will save you money, you don’t need to waste money buying carrier bags from the supermarket. If you can, leavebags in your car all the time.
30. Shop with cash. Only take cash with you, if you are sticking to your budget, then this will help, it will stop you over spending.
31. Swap Like For Like – changing a big brand to a shop own brand. This can save so much and the taste difference is usually minimal. Some products are even better by a cheaper brand.
Ways to save money at the supermarket
32. Shop on your own. If you have kids, they usually want half of the shop and all the things not on your shopping list. Or even your partner, they may want the naughty bits. Shop on your own so you can concentrate and stick to your list.
33. Get the little trolly or basket. If you grab a little trolly or even a basket, that will help you to only get what you actually need, no room for all the extras that you don’t need.
34. Look at the prices. when you are looking at the fruit and vegetables, look at the price per kg, look at the pre-packed bags of fruit and vegetables, don’t go for pre-prepared ones, they are always more expensive. Look for the cheapest options!
35. Use the weighing scales. If you’re not sure if you are getting the best price, weigh the pre-packed fruit and vegetables, see the kg price for the loose fruit and vegetables, you’ll then see which is the better deal. If you shop at Aldi, they always have a super 6, that can also save you money of fruit and vegetables.
36.Check out the offers. Look at the available offers, see if there are any that you WILL use and not what’s there to make you spend money!! If possible swap out certain fruit, vegetables and other options suitable alternatives that you and the family would be happy with.
37. Frozen foods. If you want fruits for smoothies or certain vegetables which are frozen, they may be cheaper and will last, means less waste. Don’t forget frozen foods are just as good as the fresh.
38. Swap the alternatives. Have a look for cheaper brands, swap the branded tomato ketchup to a store brand, swap expensive meats to cheaper varieties, think chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Using a slow cooker can turn a cheap piece of meat into something restaurant quality.
39. Shop with the seasons. Look at when certain fruit, vegetables and some meats are cheaper in certain seasons, shop in those seasons to keep your costs down. Get strawberries in the summer and pears in winter. Look about and don’t get caught out.
40. Time vs Money. Most people are busy with work, family and everything. It can be easy to reach for the ready meals, pre-prepared fruit or even the little jelly pots. These will cost you morel, think about meal planning and preparing. Check out my freeze or not to freeze post about having prepared fruit and vegetables in the freezer, makes slow cooking or even a Sunday roast quick and easy.
41. Snacks. Look at trying to change snacks to cheaper alternatives, instead of crisps, make your own slimming world crisps, toast and jam/chocolate spread, you could even make your own cupcakes or biscuits.
42. Swap the brands. Move to cheaper alternatives, move from branded cereal to store brand or a cheap brand, try a few little swaps, you may be surprised at how good the store variety is over the branded ones.
43. Always look down. The supermarkets are clever, they put the cheaper brands at the bottom of the shelves, they keep the big brands at eye level, don’t get caught out.
44. The world food aisles. You May find cheaper alternatives in the world food aisle, such as tinned tomatoes or rice, just because it’s a brand you’ve not heard of, it may be a good swap.
45. Fresh food counter. As the supermarkets put offers all over the store, it’s always good to check out the fresh counters to see if meat, cheese or fish are cheaper than pre-packed, again another useful area to look to save money.
46. Offers and deals. Beware of the special offers and the buy x and get x free!! They are designed for you to spend more than you need too. Check first to see if they are cheaper, also look at changing to a cheaper brand.
47. Check the offers. If you are buying a 3 for X amount, make sure you actually buy the varieties that are in the deal!! Check the weight and sizes to make sure you get the deal.
48. Bulk buying. Look at the bigger packs, rice, pasta and even potatoes are cheaper in bigger packs, yogurt and cheese are also cheaper buying bigger packs than the individual pots. If you have the space then these may be ideal for you.
49. Buy only what you need. Buying in bulk can save you money, but only if you actually use it. Don’t buy in bulk if it’s going to be wasted.
50. Don’t buy early as you’ll only buy twice. You know that the supermarkets put out the Easter and Christmas stuff early so you’ll buckle and eat the treats early, this means you’ll only need to replace them. Don’t fall for this.
51. Look for the Yellow Stickers. Always have a look at the reduced section in the supermarkets, see what is being reduced, all at what you need, what can be frozen and eaten before it goes off, don’t waste your money if it’s not going to be used.
52. Best before / Display Until Dates. You need to know what these dates mean. For many foods it just refers t the food quality, not the food safety. Many foods are perfectly fine after these dates especially dried, tinned and packet foods. The”Use By” date is the important one on dairy, meat and fish. If you’re not going to use them by that date, is possible freeze them.
53. Stick to your shopping list. You’ve made a list for a reason, you should have done your stock take of the cupboards and freezer, you know what you need, so stick to your list.
54. Total up. Keep a running total when you are shopping, it is easy to do with your calculator on the phone or at the supermarkets with self scan. Look at what you are spending and stay in control, this will help.
55. If you don’t know, ask. When it comes to the offers in the supermarket, if you don’t know if a certain product is part of it before you get to the till, ask. You don’t want to be stung when you pay and blow your budget.
56. Use your points card. Don’t get wrapped into buying the products to get your extra loyalty points, buy what you need and want. Also save your points till Christmas if you can, that will make December a little easier for you.
57. Use your vouchers. Make sure you give over the vouchers before you pay, you can be surprised at how much you can have knocked off your bill just by using them!!
58. Check your receipt. Before you leave the supermarket, check over your receipt, make sure the offers went through, make sure your yellow labels went through, any concerns, go to customer services.
Ways to save money after shopping
59. Use first to the front. Put the use first foods at the front of the fridge, any leftovers etc. Make sure you use those up before starting on what you have just bought.
60. Store food properly. Make sure you put your food away and in the right place, tins in the cupboard, fresh in the fridge and frozen in the freezer. That way not only is the kitchen tidy, but foods will last longer.
61. Kitchen towel in the fridge. No it’s not for keeping the towel cold, it’s actually for absorbing any moisture caused by the fresh vegetables, it will delay the vegetables going off if the moisture is absorbed.
62. Your freezer is your best friend. And one that I rarely have anything bad to say about. Make sure you use your freezer properly, put in the yellow sticker meats and fish, chop up vegetables and put into freezer bags and in the freezer for slow cooker meals. Vegetables, meats, fish and bread all freeze well.
63. Split the packs. Break up the big packs of meats, put them into freezer bags in portions, make the quick and easy to grab when you need them. It will mean more space in the freezer and you can get rid of all the rubbish then.
64. Label freezer stuff. Make sure you table your freezer foods properly otherwise it will end up being a guessing game. You don’t want to mix up bacon and pork loin steaks, it really will mess up a meal!!
65. Eat from the freezer. Your freezer will be full of foods for meals, make sure you use it!! No point being a food hoarder, that’s just a waste then.
66. Watch out for the fridge. When you are making meals, make sure you use up what needs using from the fridge, again pointless wasting good food.
67. Use the leftovers. Don’t waste anything, use up the leftovers, have s pick dinner, be creative and make up new meals with the leftovers, avoid the waste.
68. Cook. Cooking your own food is a million times better than a ready meal. Plan your meals, use quick meals, slow cooker meals and things that make life easier and your cooking better.
69. No more takeaways, try fakeaways. Instead of spending loads of money of takeaways, save yourself money and try some fantastic fakeaways, there are some many recipes out there. They are far better, nicer and healthier.
70. Build up a store cupboard. Build up your store cupboard, have a range of herbs, spices and more, make your cooking special. Here’s my store cupboard.
71. Grow your own. If you have the space, why not grow some of your own fruits, vegetables and herbs,all you need is a windowsill, a balcony or garden, you can save money just by groaning some of the basics.
72. Befriend gardeners. If you don’t have the space or don’t like groaning your own, making friends with gardeners is always a win win.
73. Check out Olio. Olio is an app for neighbours and business to connect together to share their surplus foods, instead of binning them.
74. Cook once. When you’re cooking a family meal, cook a couple of extra portions, that way you have extra for lunches or a quick evening meal on those busy nights. Means you can have good food and not be tempted with a takeaway.
75. Slow cooker cooking. When you are planning your meals, slow cookers make it simple and easy, you can set them up the night before or in the morning, throw everything you want into a slow cooker, turn it on and leave for the day. Here’s some ideal recipes.
76. Stretch your meals. When you are making meals, especially on a budget, add extra vegetables, more pasta, lentils or potatoes. It will bulk out your meals, everyone is full and perfect for everyone eating them.
77. Carbs. Carbs are things like break, pasta, rice, noodle and potatoes, they are cheap and filling. Perfect for meals and will mean no one goes hungry.
78. Cooking with children. It’s great to get the children involved in cooking, they will get a true understanding of what’s in their meals and what it takes to cook. If they are a picky eater, then it may help them explore new foods.
79. Portion sizes. If you end up with food left over on your plate after you eaten, try cutting down the portion sizes as this could mean more left over, which can be used for lunches, and also stops you over eating or have extra there in case they are still hungry.
80. Check your meal plan. If you are bored of cooking the same old meals week in, week out, mix it up a little, check out the recipes on here for more wonderful food ideas.
Now I know this is a very long post, but I wanted to share some of my money saving ideas with you, hoping that some of these will work for you. The more you do follow, you will see the savings, this can mount up and worth while in the long run.
Let me know how you get on, let me know if they work for you and any other suggestions you have that work for you.
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