Most folks spend an arm and a leg on food and drink these days. In fact, it’s one of the priciest monthly expenses for families, so it’s no wonder that many people are on the lookout for a bargain when they venture to the supermarket.
But don’t fret – we’re going to teach you how to cut your weekly food bill. In fact, it could slash your shopping bill quite substantially. All you need to do is rethink the way you spend.
- Devise a meal plan for the week
It may be the last thing you feel like doing on a Sunday evening, but set out a meal plan for the week. I write up my list and stick it on the fridge. Alternatively, you can print off a meal planner template– fill it with what you and your family want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner that week.
With a meal plan in place, you’ll be less likely to splurge at the supermarket, because you’re sticking to a plan.
- Bring a shopping list with you
I never used to scan my cupboards before heading to the shops, and would often end up buying things I already had at home. So, before you go shopping, be sure to check what you have already. If you’ve got your meals planned for the week, then you know exactlywhich ingredients and items you’re going to need.
By taking a list, you’ll be less likely to chuck unnecessary items into the trolley, and double-buy food you already have in the cupboards.
- Plump for frozen over fresh
Is fresh always best? Sure, you may prefer fresh courgettes, onions and peppers, but it can work out much less expensive to go frozen. What’s more, you can use what you need and save the rest for another time. The good news? Less food ends up in the bin.
There are so many delicious meals to be had from the frozen section. I’m particularly fond of fish, chips and mushy peas – this dish is always a winner.
I especially love using McCain chunky chips, as they are crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle – and take less than 30 minutes in the oven.
From frozen chips and berries to sushi and meat, there are more frozen foods than you can shake a packet of peas at. Even better, buying frozen really does take the effort out of meal prep thanks to pre-washed, pre-chopped ingredients. In fact, buying ingredients like peppers and spinach from frozen can nearly halve your prep time.
- Don’t be a brand snob
Have you always stuck your nose up at a store’s own products? They’re often half the price and taste equally as delicious as popular brand names. Some own-brand foods are even produced in the same factory as big brands. Cheeky, huh?
Got your heart set on a particular brand? Head to a discount retailer and pick it up for a reduced price.
- Look at price per kilo
Supermarkets are smart. So, don’t be fooled by their signs advertising offers and different pack sizes. Double-check the shelf labels and price per kilo rather than the pack price.
Find out whether your supermarket has scales in the fresh fruit and veg aisle. Use them to check whether that pack of six apples is actually less expensive than buying loose.
- Recognise the difference between Best Before and Use By dates
Do you know the difference between best-before and use-by dates? Many of us think we have to throw away food that’s reached its best-before date.
However, if a food item is a little over its best-before date, it’s almost certainly still OK to eat. Use-by dates, on the other hand, are important. Food shouldn’t be consumed after its use-by date. They’re about food safety, as after the use-by date, the item could be contaminated despite the fact it looks fine to eat.
- Batch-cook meals
It’s easy to cook meals in batches. I like to prepare dishes like lasagne, cottage pie or bolognese, and simply freeze any excess for another time.
Another idea is to whip up a couple of meals from similar ingredients so you don’t tire of eating the same dish over a few days. For instance, you can include some kidney beans, lime and chilli to any remaining bolognese to spice it up.
8. Buy larger packs of non-perishable items
Did you know – some of the larger packs of non-perishables like rice, tinned food and peanut butter are competitively priced even though they may seem highly priced at first glance? It’s best to check out the cost per unit of all sizes and select the one with the best deal.
And be sure to use any coupon codes you may have already for items you purchase frequently. Then if there’s a decent coupon, buy that item in bulk.
9. Pop in before closing
Go food shopping last thing on a Sunday, as this is when many supermarkets tend to steeply discount much of their fresh items. This is because they’re preparing to shut and have an overload of produce to sell. I regularly pick up joints of good-quality meat, loaves of bread and deli items for a fraction of the price you’d normally pay.
Since you probably won’t be able to eat everything in one go, take advantage of your freezer. You can freeze anything, including herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, milk, meat and a whole lot more.
10. Check out the baking aisle
Even if you aren’t nuts about all things sweet, the baking section is more than worth a look. Home baking items aren’t subject to VAT, so if you’re particularly fond of dried fruit and nuts, you’ll find everything from pine nuts and dates to raisins at discounted priced in this aisle. A crisps lover? You’ll discover tortilla chips down here, too – and they’re VAT-free.
Whatever your budget or wherever you shop, be sure to take up the above steps. If my tips don’t save you money, I’ll eat my wallet.
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post