Urggghhh!! Grocery shopping… It’s got be the worst ain’t it? Especially on a busy Saturday afternoon, what could be worse? What’s more, if you’re not careful you can spend a fortune when you’re doing your weekly shop. If you’re trying to reduce your spending each month then a big part of your outgoings are likely to be eaten up by the dreaded food shop. That’s why I’ve put together this list of 11 handy tips to keep your grocery bill down so you can keep control of your finances…
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Plan Your Meals
This has to be the starting point. We’ve slashed around £20 a week of our food shopping since we’ve started planning our meals. In all honesty, we didn’t start planning meals to reduce our spending, this was just a nice side effect! The main reason was to get my eldest (he’s about to turn 6) to “agree to” the week’s menu… Yeah, yeah, I know, ridiculous that a 5-year-old has this much power over us. But, if you’ve got young children, I’m sure you know the battle!! At least this way once the list is agreed for the week, we don’t get any arguments about what’s for dinner (well, maybe a few…). We even get him to sign it…. It works though so if it works, stick with it, that’s what I say!
Make a List
Once you’ve planned your meals, it’s time to make your list. It helps if you check what you’ve already got in the cupboards and freezer first too – I know I’ve been guilty of failing to do this many a time! We try and order our list so that it follows the flow of the supermarket you’re going to so it’s easier to keep track of. If you’ve got a list your less likely to get swayed into buying stuff you don’t need on your way round. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve gone shopping and come out with a load of junk that looked good but nothing you can actually make a meal out of. I’m usually missing the most important thing I went for too!!!
Never Shop Hungry! Ever!
This is an absolute must! Again, I know I’ve done this hundreds of times and the results aren’t great. I tend to come out with all kinds of unhealthy (and unfrugal) stuff – pizzas, cakes, cookies (they’re my biggest weak spot), sweets, you name it… If it’s loaded in fat and sugar and I’m hungry it’s in the trolley… Do yourself a favour and shop on a full stomach to stop your tummy making the shopping decisions!
Switch to a Discount Supermarket
If you’ve got an Aldi or Lidl nearby then switching to one of the discounters could save you a tidy amount. They’ve both taken the UK by storm in the last few years, as the cost of living has increased, and families have looked for ways to save a little each week. I’m not sure Aldi crushes the competition as much as it once did but it’s still great for the main shop.
Take Your Own Carrier Bags
Since the carrier bag charge was introduced in 2015 this another thing to keep in mind…. Especially as most shops are now charging 10p a carrier bag. What’s that? “It’s only 10p you say?” Well, those 10ps add up!!! We keep a stash of them in the kitchen and try and take them with us every time we do a “big shop”. This stops us having to pay £1 extra for 10 carrier bags every time.
Reduce Your Meat
Not strictly a saving made on the shop, but you can make this saving at the meal planning stage. By reducing the amount of meat in your meals you can make hefty savings. And no, I don’t mean just giving stingy portions as this just leads to hungry people not happy people. Replace is probably a more suitable word than reduce.
If you bulk up your meat with things like lentils and chickpeas it makes your meat go a lot further. I tend to cook everything in bulk so I can freeze half – it creates a load of ready meals and its cheaper to cook this way. Recently I’ve been adding lentils to things like Chilli, Bolognese sauce and stews. This allows me to make 3 days’ worth of meals instead of 2 for a fraction extra – the cost of a few lentils and maybe an extra tin of tomatoes.
Stock Up on Meal Bulkers!
Following on from the point above, make sure you’ve always got plenty of meal “bulkers” in the house. This can be anything from lentils, to chickpeas, to kidney beans. Whatever’s your favourite.
Look Out for Yellow Stickers
Watch out for the reductions marked with yellow stickers! Now if you’re shopping at either Aldi or Lidl you may come across these a bit less. But they do reduce stuff occasionally (they have to reduce their wastage). What’s nice about Aldi when they do this is, they don’t faff around with small incremental reductions every few hours. They just swipe 50% off and are done with it. So, if you see a pack of meat with 50% off grab as many as you can and freeze them. Meat will keep in the freezer for between 1 and 3 months so just defrost it when you need it.
Buy in Bulk
If you’re buying stuff that doesn’t really have a shelf life, then it might make sense to buy in bulk to save a bit more. Think tinned and packet food, pasta, rice as well as household essentials such as toilet roll. Be careful though, as supermarkets can be crafty when they run promotions in terms of how they price things. So, check that the bigger pack or multi-buy is really cheaper. I tend to try and look at the unit price or the price per gram on the shelf if I’m not sure…
Make Use of Money Off Coupons
If you’re shopping at one of the big 4 such as Tesco or Sainsbury’s look out for any money off coupons you can get your hands on. You often get them at the checkout in the form of £3 of your next £20 shop. Or, you might get them in the shop magazine or sent out in the post if you have a Tesco Clubcard, Morrisons More Card or Nectar Card. Use them if you get them. If you want to find more coupons check out these handy resources at MoneySavingExpert or the coupons page at Latest Free Stuff.
Use Cashback Apps
Finally, we’ve got the cashback apps. These are great little apps that you can installed on your phone to grab discounted or free stuff when you do your supermarket shop. The 5 that I currently use are:
- Shopmium* is a great little cashback app that gives you money off selected items. You can even get some stuff free. Use my sign-up code 66s9i and you’ll be able to get a free jar of Nutella. There’s currently over £100 worth of savings on the app. You can get the app at Google Play or on iTunes.
- GreenJinn offers go live every Monday with an average £30 worth of cashback available.
- ClickSnap is an app created by Quidco and has 34 live offers at the time of this post. You can sign up with Quidco* using my link and get a £10 signup bonus as soon as you hit your first £5 worth of cashback.
- Checkout Smart has 51 live offers currently with total available savings of £191.10. This also includes several items you can get for free!
- TopCashback’s app is the least useful for in-store use as it only has 5 items on it at the moment.
So there ya go, 11 easy ways to reduce your grocery bill. How do you tackle your grocery shopping? Do you have any handy tips and tricks for keeping your grocery bills under control? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
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