Grocery shopping is one of the most costly monthly expenses for most families besides housing and transport.
We’re currently a household of two people, and food shopping is one of the areas that we spend the most every month. Families with lots of children are looking at grocery bills well into the hundreds!
That’s why I am always looking for ways to save a few pennies here and there on our food shop, and I wanted to share some of my top tips with you today.
12 Tips To Save Money On Groceries!
In UK households, over £10bn worth of food is thrown away every year.
The amount of wasted food around the world annually would be enough to solve famine globally.
You can make a difference and reduce the amount of food and resources that are wasted by being more mindful of what you buy, and how much you buy.
Take a moment to recognise the items that always end up in the bin in your home. If its fruit and vegetables that rot before you use them, or milk that spoils before you get the chance to drink it, then just quit buying these items and wasting your money!
MEAL PLAN & STICK TO A LIST
Meal planning is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you only buy what you are going to need each week.
If you know you’re having spaghetti bolognese on Monday, pizza on Tuesday… you can buy the exact ingredients required to make these dishes.
If you don’t plan your meals for the week, then you’re shopping blindly, and you’ll end up buying more than you need, and items which don’t have any use.
Planning in advance will also lessen the temptation to order takeaway or go to restaurants during the week because you will have a fridge full of ingredients and prepared meals that you can reach for in a hurry.
COUPONS & CASHBACK
Coupons, discount codes and reward schemes are so easily accessible these days that there is absolutely no excuse not to use them.
My favourite cashback app for grocery shopping is Shopmium.
Shopmium is a free app that pays you cashback if you buy the products they are advertising that week – with up to 100% cashback sometimes.
All you need to do is purchase the item listed from a qualifying store, then upload a picture of your receipt to verify your purchase. Cashback is usually be paid out to you within 6-8 weeks.
Coupons are available from a number of different sources, usually offering between 20% – 100% off a product, a discount on a minimum spend in store (ex. £20 off a spend of £100 or more) or bonus loyalty points if you are signed up to the supermarkets reward scheme (eg. Tesco Clubcard, Morrisons More, Nectar etc). These points can then be redeemed for discounts in store or other rewards.
The easiest ways to get your hands on coupons grocery coupons are:
- Via post/via email direct from retailer – if you have a loyalty card then coupons will be sent to you automatically
- Store’s magazines (usually available in-store for free)
- Online: for UK readers I find the best place is Money Saving Expert
- National newspapers and magazines (Metro & The Sun are great for coupons)
Remember if you’re using coupons from a newspaper which isn’t free, then you need to factor the cost of the paper into your overall saving. It’s only worth purchasing the paper if you would do anyway or if the value of the discount or offer is greater than the cost of the paper.
DON’T SHOP WHILE HUNGRY
When you shop with an empty belly, you end up buying things that you usually wouldn’t because they sound good to your hungry brain.
You’ll also buy a lot more food than you really need, half of which is likely to go stale before you have the chance to eat it. Plus, it’s much more tempting to reach for high-calorie ‘junk’ foods when shopping on an empty stomach.
A study was conducted in America where purchases from shoppers were analysed at two different times of the day:
Group one included shoppers in store between 1pm-3pm. These are the ‘after-lunch’ shoppers, most of whom will have recently eaten.
Group two were the 4pm-7pm shoppers. These people are likely shopping on their way home from work and are usually much hungrier.
The results of the study showed that group one bought an average of 8 high-calorie foods, whilst group two purchased an average of 11 high calorie products.
This shows us that shopping while hungry results in us buying high calorie fast foods, while if you shop after dinner, you’re more likely to stick to your list and only buy the things that you need.
DON’T BUY WHAT’S AT EYE LEVEL
Supermarkets are extremely cunning at tricking customers into spending more money by using savvy marketing tactics and product placement techniques.
Most people hate grocery shopping and most people are lazy.
Supermarkets purposefully place the most expensive, brand name products on the middle shelves, at eye level. This increases the chances that people will buy these items as they’re the first ones that they’ll see.
The top shelf is where you’ll find mid-range priced products, and the very bottom shelf is where you will find the highly discounted and generic options.
The generic products are commonly manufactured and packaged in the same factories as their brand name counterparts, however the fancy packaging and household name labels are what you’re paying more for.
Take an extra minute or two to scan all the shelves and pay close attention to the bottom shelves as this is where you’ll find the most budget friendly options.
AVOID THE FRONT OF THE STORE
Another common product placement technique supermarkets use is to put the essentials at the back of the store in hard to find areas.
Think about the last time you walked into a grocery store and saw milk, bread and eggs sitting right there in the doorway waiting for you..?
Supermarkets are deliberately laid out so you have to walk past a number of temptations before you find the things that you went in to buy.
Special offers for crisps and sweets will always be found near the entrance, and the clothing and homeware section of large stores will always be within eyesight when you walk through the doors.
So next time you walk into a grocery store, stay focused and make your way to the back of the store to find the essentials that you initially came in for.
If you can’t find what you need, then ask a store assistant rather than trying to find it yourself.
CHECK THE PRICE PER UNIT
Supermarkets are shrewd at making it difficult to compare prices of like for like products.
For example, they’ll sell whole chicken breasts in loads of different pack sizes.
Not only will they come in packs of 100g, 500g and 1kg, they’ll also give you the option of diced chicken breast in all the same pack sizes.
Add to the mix a few multi-buy offers and a buy one get one free offer on another shelf…. how on earth are you supposed to be able to work out which option is the most affordable?!
Pay attention to the price per unit: this will usually be displayed in small print in the corner of the price ticket.
This will show you the price per kilogram of every option available, and is a much simpler way of seeing how much each option actually costs.
Grocery shopping online can go either way – there are arguments to say that buying online will save you money but there are also ways that it can be more costly.
Most supermarkets will offer great deals on your first online shop.
If you make your way through all the supermarkets first time shop offers then you’re in for some great savings in the space of a few months.
Once you run out of offers, there are still some benefits to shopping online: you can see what you are spending to the penny before you checkout, rather than getting to the till to find that you’re £20 overspent.
It’s also not as tempting to fall for the ‘special offers’ on unhealthy foods when we are shopping from the comfort of our own home.
However, online grocers sometimes have less selection, particularly for generic products. You then have no choice but to buy the more expensive options for things like cleaning products and toilet tissue.
So shop online with caution, make the most of first time shop offers, and if you know you can get something cheaper by going into store, then consider a combination of online shopping and in store shopping each month.
There are some things which undoubtedly can’t be replicated to the same degree of quality as the original brand names: Coca Cola, Heinz Tomato Ketchup…
However, common essentials like bread, milk and eggs are often produced and farmed in the same place as the generic versions.
So next time you’re food shopping, think about which items you can switch to buying generic, and see how much money you can save your family!
AVOID CONVENIENCE STORES
It’s in the name… they’re convenient.
Such stores are usually found in high traffic areas, or on the main road of small towns, therefore have no motive to keep their prices low as people will buy from them anyway because they have no choice or because its more accessible.
If you’re meal planning effectively and taking your own lunch to work and school, then there shouldn’t be any reason for you to visit a convenience store.
If you’re currently shopping at independently owned stores because there are no other options where you live, then consider switching to online shopping from one of the big supermarkets.
If you want to save money on your food shop, then consider limiting the most expensive thing on your list: meat.
Look through Pinterest for vegan and vegetarian recipes. If you opted for a meat-free dinner for you and your family just twice a week, then you could save yourself a considerable amount of money each month on groceries.
Although you can rack up loyalty points by doing all your shopping at the same store, take the time to consider the actual value of those points in monetary terms.
Take Tesco Clubcard as an example:
Tesco offers 1 point for every £1 spent. 150 points can then be redeemed for a £1.50 voucher to spend in store, or £4.50 to spend with partners such as Pizza Express, Hotels.com etc.
This means that every point earned has a monetary value of 1p-3p.
Therefore we can translate the Tesco Clubcard programme as a 1%-3% discount for shopping at Tesco.
So if your overall basket is 10% cheaper at Aldi than it is at Tesco, it’s not worth the Clubcard points you would earn to stick with Tesco as you’ll still save money by shopping at Aldi.
I like to use a site called mysupermarket.co.uk every few months, which analyses your shopping basket with your usual supermarket, and tells you the price of the equivalent basket at every other supermarket including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Aldi and Lidl.
To Finish Off…
I hope that you found this post helpful and you will be able to use some of these tips to shave some money off your families monthly grocery bill.
If you have any more tips for saving money on food, then please let me know in the comments below!