10 Food Shopping Tips That Will Save You Hundreds
I always like to get as much bang for my buck when I go for my weekly grocery haul… come to think about it, I do that with everything I buy.
But with food being one of my highest living costs (and probably one of yours), I try to do what I can to reduce my grocery bill.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I could spend less on food. But I value my health, and I like to enjoy what I eat, so I don’t mind splurging out a little for proper sustenance. Plus, I’m cursed with a sweet tooth and do like the odd beer (or four).
But despite a few luxuries, I still manage to keep my food spend low while eating a nutritious diet packed with plenty of greens and goodness. If you’d like to shave a few quid off your grocery bill, here are my top tips for saving at the supermarket.
1. Switch To Discount Supermarkets
If you don’t already, start shopping at Aldi or Lidl. You will see noticeable savings.
For our family of three, we’re at least £20 a week better off shopping at Aldi (my favourite) than if we were to shop at one of the other big, UK supermarkets.
There are a few compromises – such as the limited choice, unknown brands and lack of some specialist ingredients – but the amount you save is worth the trade-off.
And despite the brands not being household names you recognise, the quality of the produce is always top-notch.
Ever wondered how Aldi consistently manages to beat the big supermarkets on price? Then check out this video:
2. Shop With A List
Your gran has probably told you this one before, but this pearl of wisdom never gets old.
Before heading off to the supermarket, plan your meals for the week and write down all the ingredients you need.
When shopping, buy only what’s on your list.
By shopping with a list, you’re not buying excess food that is going to be wasted, and you’re not overeating. That’s a win for your wallet, and your waistline.
3. Don’t Go Shopping Hungry
There’s a reason you never go food shopping when your stomach’s rumbling.
When you’re hungry, rational decision making goes out the window, and anything that offers a quick fix will get chucked in the trolley.
You’ll end up buying way more than you need or you’ll be piled high with crap you don’t usually buy.
Get something in your belly before trawling the aisles, even if it’s just a banana. You’re not you when you’re hungry.
4. Buy Based On Price Per Weight
During my first year at university, I moved away from home and found myself fending for myself for the first time. As with most students, money was tight, and I had to be careful how I spent the little cash I had – which meant some form of pasta for almost every meal.
I was pretty thrifty, and I would always buy the cheapest option of whatever I needed… but I wasn’t getting the best deal.
I only wisened up when my flatmate pointed out that a lower “headline price” doesn’t make it the cheapest. To get a true cost comparison of whatever you’re buying, check the “price per kg” or “price per 100g”.
It takes an extra second, but it will ensure your hard-earned cash is stretched as far as it can go.
5. Calculate the Time Value of Food Waste
Are you constantly throwing away food? Then here’s a little eye-opening exercise that’ll nip that in the bud.
Before you bin any food, calculate how much money it cost you to buy. Keep a log of everything you throw away in a week or month (depending on how often you get paid).
Next, calculate your “real” hourly wage from your job.
Real hourly wage = after-tax pay per hour – costs that are directly associated with your work, such as travel, work clothes and lunches.
Now, divide the cost of your food waste by your real hourly wage, and then multiply that number by 60.
After tax wage = £9 / hour
Work Related Expenses
- Travel to work = £23 / week
- Lunch at work = £18 / week
- Total = £41 / week or £1.09 / hour (37.5 hr week)
Real Hourly Wage = £9 – £1.09 = £7.91
Total cost of food wasted that week = £6.18
Time Value Of Wasted Food
£6.18 / £7.91 x 60 mins = 47 mins
In this example, you’ve wasted 47 minutes worth of food. Or to put it another way, you spent 47 minutes at work that week for the privilege of being able to throw away food.
What you’re left with is how much time you spend working (at a job you probably hate if you’re like most people) to pay to chuck away food.
In other words, you’re spending your one and only life busting your balls at work so that you can then throw away your time in the form of food waste.
Worth it? Hmmm, I think not.
6. Batch Cooking and Freezer Bagging
This next tip is both a productivity and money-saving hack.
Batch cooking saves time and money as almost the same amount of resources are used to prepare larger portions that will do several nights compared to a single meal.
It’s the most efficient way of cooking if you don’t mind eating the same meal a couple of times in a week.
Or if you like variety, batch cook several meals and freeze them in containers or bags, and then alternate between them. Freezer meals will also stop impulse visits to drive-throughs on the way home from work.
7. What’s On Special?
If you’re prepared to do a little more prep, there’s some dough to be saved for your effort.
When you’re meal planning, check online for the latest supermarket promotions, and plan your meals around whatever meat or vegetables are on offer.
Here is Aldi’s Super 6 and weekly offers
Or check out Lidl’s current deals
Making use of the weekly specials requires more creativity in the kitchen, but there’s definitely some savings up for grabs.
8. Know The Cost
As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of both Aldi and Lidl. However, they aren’t always the cheapest option.
I’d advise taking an interest in your food and knowing roughly how much an item costs. That way, you’ll be easily able to spot a bargain when you’re out and about.
If you shop at stores like B&M and Home Bargains, you’ll find the occasional go-crazy-and-fill-your-basket deal. When you come across a multipack of Heinz Baked Beanz going for a steal, you’ve struck gold 😉
9. Buy Online
If you’re always blowing the budget at the supermarket, then make the switch to online shopping.
Ordering your groceries online eliminates the temptation to splurge on special offers or stock up on sale items when in store. Home delivery service will cost around £5, but it’s worth it if it stops you from filling your trolley with spontaneous crap.
Home delivery is also a huge time-saver. When my wife and I were both working full-time, the delivery cost was worth not having to trail around the supermarket on a Saturday morning.
10. Sign Up For Loyalty Cards
I think shopping with coupons and cashback sites is a waste of time.
But loyalty cards, that’s a different story. The five minutes it takes to apply for the card is worth every second as you’ll save money every time you shop as you usually would from then on.
It can take a while to build any meaningful credit, but the cashback received and special offers will save money in the long run. And you can’t really complain… it’s FREE MONEY!
Unfortunately, Aldi doesn’t have a loyalty card, but it does accept the American Express Rewards Credit Card, which is an easy to get cashback card that pays you 1% of everything you buy. Again, not going to make you a millionaire, but it will put some change back in your pocket.
The Final Word
Getting savvy at the supermarket will save you more than just a few pennies. Implementing only a few of these tips will save you hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.
And if you were to invest what you saved at the supermarket in the stockmarket, the compounded return over your lifetime would be worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Now, that’s some thriftiness to get excited about.
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Hi! I'm Jamie
I’m a 30-something money blogger that writes about saving, frugal living, investing and entrepreneurship.
I achieved financial independence at 30 through hard work, saving and learning to invest.
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