How do you budget for groceries? You'll be surprised how many ways you can save money on your weekly food shopping just by making a few small changes to how, when and where you buy. When you know how to do your grocery shopping to save money, you'll be inspired to find even more ways to slash that checkout bill.
Go for Value Ranges
Most supermarkets have a “value” range of products which are significantly cheaper than premium ranges, but often don’t taste any different. Similarly, a supermarket’s own brand goods are typically cheaper than big name brands. Buy “basic” or “savers” products instead of their “luxury” or “finest” equivalents and see if you can taste the difference.
Buy Fruit and Veg in Season
Fruit and vegetables are always cheaper in season, and taste better too. Check out the website Eat the Seasons for an idea of products that are in season now, and therefore likely to be cheaper. For example, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, radishes, rhubarb and strawberries are in season in the UK in May. Many supermarkets have a "wonky" section for misshapen or blemished fruit and vegetables at discounted prices. Never buy pre-chopped fruit or vegetables, which are always more expensive.
Use coupons instead of cash to get big discounts on your shopping bill. Find coupons in your local newspaper or browse couponing websites like Super Savvy Me to choose and print money-off vouchers. Some supermarkets run special offers where you can "double up" your coupons for even more money off, such as in the run-up to Christmas.
Sign Up for Loyalty Cards
All major supermarkets have loyalty cards, and you can sign up for them all. Look out for special offers and discounts for loyalty card holders and don't forget to trade in your points for extra rewards before they expire. Most supermarkets have a section of their website where you can check your points and print vouchers and coupons.
Shop on a Full Stomach
If you go to the supermarket when you’re hungry, you’re more likely to buy things you don’t actually need. Try not to shop in a rush, either. Supermarkets put a lot of time and effort into product placement, and it's common to find the same goods at cheaper prices in less prominent areas of the shop. For example, dried fruit and nuts tend to be more expensive in the snack area than in the baking products aisle.
Compare Your Trolley Cost
Don't feel you have to be loyal to one particular supermarket. Instead, shop around for the best deals. Use mySupermarket.co.uk to compare the cost of your shopping trolley at all major supermarkets, including Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. For every product you enter, the website suggests alternative options that may save you money. The site also highlights the best offers from 15 major supermarkets. Further, you can install the mySupermarket grocery shopping saving app on your smartphone to help you save while you shop.
The more organised you are, the more you'll save on your groceries. First of all, work out a weekly budget for your food shopping. Plan your meals for the week and write a shopping list containing only items that you need. Finally, stick to it. This means if it's not on the list, it doesn't go in your trolley.
Hit the Reduced Section
Most supermarkets have sections dedicated to food that's nearing it's expiry date, sold at reduced prices. This is a great way to get some treats your budget might not normally allow for. Do some detective work at your local supermarket to find out what time of the day it tends to reduce items.
Apps like CheckoutSmart and Shopitize give you cashback on your shopping. After you've bought the item on offer, answer the question or complete the "challenge" connected to the item, then snap a picture of the barcode and receipt, and your cashback appears in your account. Just make sure you take advantage of discounts on items you would normally buy and aren't tempted to buy something you don’t need.
BOGOF (buy-one-get-one-free) and three-for-two offers can save money, but only if you buy goods you really need. Don't forget that it might still work out cheaper to buy a supermarket's own brand or value equivalent of branded items, so do the math before you fill up your trolley.