The best way to save at the supermarket isn’t to be overly fussed by loyalty card or price match schemes.
Use them if you’re shopping anyway, but don’t make a special trip. Instead a few simple changes to your shopping habits could drastically bring down the cost of the food in your trolley.
1. Write a shopping list
A list isn’t just the logical progression of having planned your shop. It will also help focus you as you walk the aisles, reducing the temptation of special offers you don’t really need and snacks you know you shouldn’t buy.
If you stick to the list, you won’t find yourself impulsively chomping on a chocolate bar or trying to find room in the cupboard for four bottles of half-priced coke. And don’t shop when you’re hungry, as you’ll be tempted to reach out for goods that aren’t on your list. That’s good for your waistline as well as your wallet.
2. Compare pack size, offers and prices
It’s a lot easier now to work out if the special offer or big ‘value’ pack is really cheaper than the smaller standard size. If you take a look at the shelf label you’ll see a price per unit – it could be weight, volume or quantity. Compare this price with different options for the same item and grab the cheapest one.
If you shop online, you can also use website MySupermarket.co.uk, which compares prices at all of the leading supermarkets. You can see where your digital basket would be cheaper before clicking through to complete your shop.
3. Change brands
Many own label items you buy are made in the same factories as branded – and more expensive – products. If you try swapping one or two items each time you shop, you’re sure to find at least some things where you don’t notice a difference in taste, but do find a difference in price.
Discounted supermarket chains, such as Lidl and Aldi, will help with this, or you could even go a step further – as many shoppers do – and try pound shops.
4. Buy reduced items
Supermarkets reduce prices on fresh items about to go past their sell-by date – you can freeze these foods to use later. You can get even better bargains if you go later in the day when prices are slashed further. Check the bargain shelves too, which can be hidden at the back of the store.
5. Get in and out quickly
Supermarkets are deliberately designed to confuse. They are laid out in such a way that you are forced to walk past aisles of expensive goods, tempting you to buy more on the way. They also regularly move products around to ensure you have to traipse up and down the aisles searching for the specific things you went in to buy.
If you can, try to leave your children at home when you visit the supermarket, because many of the displays are designed especially to titillate their tastes.
We’d love to hear about how you reduce your weekly food bill. Email your tips and ideas to editor@Moneywise.co.uk or write to Moneywise, 1st Floor, Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA.