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How to save money on your food shopping (10 top tips)

With the cost of living biting, households are looking for cheaper ways to do their food shopping.

Fortunately, there are some easy and simple steps you can take to shave the pounds off your typical shopping bill.

10 of the best ways to save money on your food shopping

Here are our top tips on how to save money on your food shopping

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1. Go with own brands 

While there are some good reasons to choose popular brands, when things are tight, going with own-brand foods can be worth it.

Often, own-brand foods taste just as good as the branded ones. Most importantly though, own-brand foods come in at a significant discount and can slice pounds off your food bill in one go.

If you aren’t doing this already, make sure you check the shelves for your supermarket’s own-brand foods. 

2. Only buy what you need 

When doing the food shop, it can be easy to get lost buying delicious looking foods only for them to be forgotten about in the cupboard.

Before you head out to do any food shop, try to make a list of the things that you really need, and have every intention of cooking.

This way, you’ll be able to plan how much you intend to spend on the food you eat, instead of coming back with wildly different shopping bills. And you’ll only be spending money on things that you get full use out of.  

3. Reduce your food waste 

The UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food every year.

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, this wastage has a value of around £19 billion.

Worse still, of all the food thrown away, it’s estimated that as much as 6.4 million tonnes could still have been eaten —  enough to feed the entire UK population three times a day, for 11 weeks. 

Reducing your food waste means avoiding throwing hundreds of pounds in the bin every year and is imperative for both your household finances and the environment.

Make sure you’re using as much food as you can, and try to find ways to recycle food waste where possible. 

4. Use the freezer 

Lots of food can be frozen and reheated at a later date. If you’re planning on cooking your lunches and meals ahead of time, consider whether you could do a big cook and freeze your food so that there’s plenty for you to eat over the week.

This helps you avoid buying individual meals and lunches, which can often be expensive. 

5. Seek out discounts 

Most supermarkets offer discounts and markdowns for customers that shop regularly with them.

You can usually find these discounts given in the form of coupons or on the back of your receipts.

But, as always with loose pieces of paper, these can be easy to lose, so consider downloading apps that can store your discounts safely or do your shopping online where they are easier to redeem.  

If you are heading into supermarkets though, you could choose to go later on in the evening.

Not only are shops less busy during these times, but you’ll also find foods at significant discounts.

The only catch being that they may be best used before the next day, so if you are planning on finding some discounted bargains for yourself, make sure that you’re planning on using it soon, or have a good way of storing it for the future.  

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6. Beware of the multi-buy 

Unfortunately, sometimes multi-pack buys aren’t always as good value as they first seem.

Multi-packs and two-for-one deals might seem like good value at first, but when it comes to leftover foods going to waste because you can’t get through them all, it can sometimes be a different matter.  

Take a moment before you chuck a multi-buy pack into your trolley.

Ask yourself whether you’ll really come round to using it, or whether it perhaps looks a little too good to be true. After all, the surest way to cut your food bill is to not buy things you won’t use.  

7. Don’t grab off the shelf 

Supermarkets know all too well that people are more likely to grab the products that can be found at eye level.

So, they make a point of putting the most expensive products they have where customers will most likely see them — at eye level. Before you grab the first thing that you see, have a look at the shelves above and below, even if it means having a rummage.

You can often find similar products for much cheaper prices if you take the time to find them.  

8. Don’t shop hungry 

Heading to the shop while you’re hungry is a guaranteed way to spend over the odds on foods that you can’t wait to tuck into.

Needless to say, this is a big mistake. Before you head out, make sure that you’ve already eaten, or at the very least, have eaten enough to make those hunger pangs go away. Your shopping bill will be all the smaller for it.  

9. Buy meat wisely 

Meat normally makes up the most expensive part of all our meals, and while it can be nice, skipping out on eating meat once a week can take a sizeable slice off your food bills.

Whether you’re doing a meat-free Monday, or have a designated day where you’d like to try something else, ask yourself whether you could curb some of these expensive foods from time to time. 

10. Work out when the best time to shop for you is 

Even though most people live fairly close to a supermarket, it may be more cost effective to do your shop once a week, or once a month.

In any case, taking regular trips to the shop is certainly one of the most expensive ways to keep yourself fed. 

The cost of living is affecting everyone, from food shopping to planning for the future.

Speaking to a financial adviser could help you save money, while continuing to achieve your financial goals.

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About the author
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.