Keep a lid on your supermarket bills with this 11-step checklist for savvy grocery shopping
- Prices of groceries are soaring as inflation heads for 13 per cent in the UK
- The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that some items have doubled in price
- But some supermarket items have fallen in that time
- The Mail on Sunday has compiled tips to keep costs down on a weekly shop
Grocery prices are soaring as inflation heads for 13 per cent.
The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that prices of many popular items have as much as doubled in a year. But it’s not all bad news – some supermarket prices have fallen in that time.
So if you plan your shopping carefully and follow our tips, you can keep a lid on the escalating cost of your weekly shop.
1 CHOOSE A CHEAPER BRAND AND SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
The ‘downshift challenge’ was coined by Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis. Drop one brand level on all products (from premium and branded to supermarket value or own-brand) to see if you can spot the difference in taste and quality. Sticking with it could slash up to 30 per cent off your shopping bill every year.
2 CHECK WHEN THOSE YELLOW STICKERS GO OUT
The lure of a yellow sticker is hard to resist. Most supermarkets put them on unsold fresh food nearing or even on their ‘use-by’ date, at heavily discounted prices. Every store has different times for reducing its clearance food so it’s worth collaring a staff member to ask when they bring out the reductions. Discounts can be up to 90 per cent near closing time.
3 POP TO LOCAL MARKETS FOR FRESH PRODUCE
Check out your local street or farmers’ market. The fruit and veg they sell is likely to be grown near you and will be fresher and sometimes cheaper than in the supermarket. They often sell off items at bargain prices at the end of the day and may also sell cheaper ‘wonky’ produce.
4 SEE IF THERE IS A COMMUNITY FRIDGE NEAR YOU
There are many local initiatives to distribute free food to stop it being wasted. Go to hubbub.org. uk and search for your closest community fridge.
5 ONE WEEK HERE, NEXT WEEK THERE
It pays to compare supermarkets on price. Every month the consumer group Which? analyses hundreds of groceries at the biggest supermarkets and finds huge price differences. In July, Aldi was cheapest – with a basket of 47 groceries costing an average of £74.23 – compared with £99.46 at Waitrose; a £25.23 saving.
6 DON’T THROW AWAY PERFECTLY GOOD FOOD
Wasting good food is tantamount to throwing money in the bin. Every year in the UK, the average family chucks away £730 worth of edible food. The Government’s waste advisory body Wrap says this is 244kg of food – equivalent to 580 meals – each year.
To reduce waste, learn to understand dates on labels and what they mean. ‘Use by’ dates help protect you from potentially dangerous bacteria that could be in food after that date, according to the Food Standards Agency, while ‘best before’ is a quality guide. Many foods past their ‘best before’ date are still safe to eat weeks and even months later.
7 THE FREEZER CAN BE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
Your freezer is an ally in the quest to slash waste as you can freeze food right up to its use-by date. A lot more food and drink can be frozen than people realise – from rice, eggs and cheese to milk and wine. Exceptions are those with high water content, like lettuce or cucumber. Wrap’s Love Food Hate Waste has a useful guide at lovefoodhate waste.com/article/be-freezer-hero.
You can often bag a discount as a new customer even if you decide not to become a regular shopper (stock image)
8 USE FIRST-TIME GROCERY OFFERS
You can often bag a discount as a new customer even if you decide not to become a regular shopper. Currently you can get £15 off a £60 shop at Sainsbury’s on your first order, and £5 off a £45 first online shop at Iceland. Ocado is offering £20 off your first £60 spend and free delivery.
9 TRY OUT DISCOUNTERS AND CLEARANCE SITES
They pile it high and sell it cheap but what’s not to like? Use discounters such as B&M – a bargain physical store which sells food and drink, cleaning products, toys and electrical goods – at low prices. Don’t forget online grocery clearance sites such as Approved Food and Clearance XL, which sell groceries past ‘best before’, but still safe to eat.
10 GET LOYALTY CARDS WORTH HAVING
Supermarket loyalty schemes and cards can help save money on regular food shops or family days out. Which? says that while you probably shouldn’t change your habits just to earn points, it is worth signing up to schemes offered by shops you already use. Tesco’s Clubcard unlocks numerous discounts in-store and lets you collect one point per £1 spent in-store and online.
11 VISIT WONDERS OF THE WORLD… FOOD AISLE
Don’t ignore the exotic ‘world food’ aisles which stock cut-price long-life staples. These include rice, chickpeas and lemon juice, often in bigger and better-value packs. They sell unfamiliar brands; a 400g tin of KTC chickpeas is 55p in Sainsbury’s, compared with own-brand at 60p and organic at 80p. Check the bottom shelf where cheaper own-brand and value ranges are displayed.