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Money Saving Guide on Food shopping

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Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

During this global pandemic, it has been noticed by many that the cost of food seems to be rising. Inevitably this is most likely down to the rise of demand, as here in the UK we are spending more time at home.

In my home, I have 3 of us to feed. My 1-year-old toddler, my partner and myself, it is surprising how much food we can get through (plus boys can eat a lot haha). My monthly big food shop was set at £50 but due to price rises, it's now in the region of £70. I should note here that I'm lactose-free so free-from products cost more.

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Many of us are facing the same problems, money is very tight due to being furloughed or losing jobs. It is a very tough situation for everyone, hopefully, with the breakthrough of the vaccines, we can adjust to our new lives and ways of working this year (hoping and keeping fingers crossed).

Today as part of my budgeting series, I thought I would tackle food shopping. I have researched and found 20 tips on saving money with food. A lot of these I use, some I will start doing!

When reading these tips/ ideas, please keep an open mind... I know many love their big brands of certain items ( my partner prefers to have Heinz baked beans over any others) but in the long run, it can save you money!

An example of why to consider switching brands.

I've switched a few of my brands where I can. I used to pay £1.40 for a 1-litre carton of lactose-free milk. Then Aldi started doing there own Lactose-free milk at 85p! It has increased a tiny bit to 89p but still cheap! I can go through up to 3 cartons a week so let's evaluate the maths...

Lactofree milk £1.40 x 3 cartons ( 1 week) = £4.20 x4 ( 4 weeks in the average month) =

£16.80 a month.

Aldi milk- 89p x 3 cartons ( 1 week)= £2.67 x 4 ( 4 weeks in an average month) =

£10.68 a month.

So this is a saving of £6.12 a month!

This saving is brilliant because it is money towards a few other items for me, plus the Aldi milk tastes really good and I now prefer it over the old one. Just by switching milk, I've saved a lot already!

20 Ways to save on food shopping

Photo by Rithika Gopalakrishnan on Unsplash

So now let's look at the tips and get you saving more when you buy food...

1) Yellow sticker reductions- Do not be put off by these! I have saved so much lately with checking for the sticker reductions. I haven't paid full price for sausages in nearly 2 months because I've been lucky enough to get them with reduction stickers on. Although they probably have that day's date on them it doesn't matter, you can freeze most things.

2) Loyalty Cards- Yes another thing to sign up for and give information BUT this is good because they send you money off vouchers. All you have to do is scan it every time you shop and build up your points. I do this with Tesco's and have saved a lot through there Clubcard. Furthermore, Tesco is now doing special instore offers for Clubcard holders, so you save even more!

3) Shop local- Meat seems to be an ever-growing price! Why not check out local butchers for some deals. Also, does your local town do a market day? Or do you have a farm shop nearby? Support your local tradespeople and shop with them, you could save a bit and you're helping them instead of the big companies.

4) Stocktake- I never heard of this until I worked in retail, now it has a different meaning for me. Write a list of all the food you have at home. Yep, all of it, the fridge, freezer, cupboards. This can help so you don't buy stuff that you already have. Plus if you can't shop till payday it can help as you can create meals from what you already have.

5) Buy in bulk- As well as saving money its good to have a back up in case of emergency (in some cases where bulk buys can keep). For example, toilet rolls, some places do deals like 2 packs for £8 for an 18 pack, so that would be 36 rolls for £8. Keep your eye out for special offers on products that you can buy in bulk and that will keep. It could save you a trip to the supermarket which will leave you buying more than what you went in for.

6) Write a list- This a big must when trying to save. Don't rely on your memory to think of what you need. Keep a small notepad or whiteboard in your kitchen and write down items as you seem them or run out of them.

7) Set a budget. Keep your receipts and track how much you spend. Then set a rough budget and stick to it.

8) Switch supermarkets- If you really want to save try going to a different store. Instead of the big supermarkets try Aldi or Lidl. I do part of my shopping at Aldi now and have saved at least £20 if not more a month on a big food shop. You could even consider buying from Iceland or Farmfoods, they also have great deals all the time!

9)Switch brands- This is a key element to saving more money on your food shopping. As shown with my milk example above you can save a lot of money just by doing a simple brand swap for a cheaper price.

10) Use coupons- Just like the Tesco Clubcard vouchers, keep your eye out for vouchers. Farmfoods send leaflets out to my local area and inside are money off vouchers (if you spend a certain amount*). Some companies may even send them via email.

11) Eat before you go- This sounds strange but do not go food shopping on an empty stomach. You will land up buying more than you need when you're hungry.

12) Frozen over fresh- Now you can't go wrong with fresh food, its great! But in some cases, you re better off buying frozen. Meat, for example, frozen fish is cheaper than fresh. If you really want to save every penny consider switching to frozen over fresh.

13) Meal plan- I do this every week. It helps me be organised and helps use up what I already have. As well as saving time, it can save you money too. Plan ahead to help your busy schedule and stop you from buying that take away on the nights you don't have the energy to cook! Check out this handy magnetic meal planner that can stick to your fridge on amazon! I have one, on mine :)

14) Love your leftovers- Do you extra for dinner OR have some left, save it for the

next day!

I do this with pasta bake, just bulking it out with some veggies and chicken saves enough for another meal the next day :) Don't throw it out, put it in a tub and use it OR if you don't want it the next day, many meals you can freeze for another time :).

15) Pack Lunches- Don't buy your lunches out each day, make them at home OR even use leftovers from last night's dinner. This can save you a fortune in the long run.

16) Meat-Free Meals- Try some meat-free meals to save each week! Even just one meat-free meal a week can save you some cash too! (I can't give an estimate as everyone is different in their budgets and circumstances). This could be a simple meal as Mac n cheese with some added broccoli or spaghetti bolognese without the mince and veggies instead. Also, going one meat-free meal a week it's healthy too. Check out these meat-free meals from Tasty for some ideas!

17) Online check- Check online at the different supermarkets to see if your most needed products are cheaper elsewhere or if different supermarkets have special offers. This can save some frustration when you buy a product then find it cheaper elsewhere. It has happened to me many times.

18) Snacks- Now these can cost a bit each week! the prices on chocolate bars or other snacks are not cheap. Swap your snacks to cheaper alternatives (or even the brand ) swap crisps for rice cakes or plain popcorn, Swap that chocolate bar for some fruit!

19) Olio app- This is a new app I recently discovered through one of the food groups I follow on Facebook. It is amazing! You sign up and can connect to your area and search for people who are giving away free food items, and you can add stuff you don't want either! I've given a few bits away that was in date but wouldn't have been used. Sign up for it!

image taken from Olio website
Olio website

20) Pre-cut food- My final tip for this post, Don't buy pre-cut food. You see in supermarkets you can buy precut fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrot also in the meat section with the chicken. Don't buy these, Yes they may be convenient BUT they cost you more money. It is easy to prep the food yourself!

Bonus tip!! Some big brand supermarkets have started selling 'perfectly imperfect' or 'wonky' products. I buy them from Tesco. I can get a massive bag of wonky carrots for 97p! It is a great deal, It helps save money!

So there you have it! 20 top saving tips for food. Although some of these don't directly relate to food shopping, they are contributing factors to it. I hope these ideas can help you or someone you know.

Before I go check out this website! A lovely woman named Faith has set up this site to help us 'live on less and make the most of it'. I discovered her while researching for this post and I'm now following her on social media for some great ideas!

My next post will look at other ways to save on essentials such as birthdays, health care and other bits.

All images from the talented people at Unsplash (Olio image directly from the Olio website).

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