The dos and don'ts of supermarket shopping

29 July 2009

DO write a meal plan

Meal planning is the easiest way to save money on food - not only does it massively reduce food wastage, it also puts an end to all those mid-week supermarket runs when you pop out for chicken and come home with a whole bag of shopping.

Talk to your family too and wherever possible, work out how many people you'll be feeding each day. Cook meals using fresh foods with a short shelf life at the start of the week and save meals with longer-lasting ingredients until the end.

Save money by dropping a brand

DON'T go to the supermarket

Supermarkets spend millions finding ways to make us spend more in store - from the smell of fresh bread to live cookery demonstrations and tastings. You'll find it much easier to stick to your list if you shop online.

In the relative calm of your home you've also got more time to compare prices and brand options and can give your trolley a thorough review before you check out.

DO complain

One danger of shopping online is that you don't get to inspect your food first. If food isn't up to scratch or you feel like you've had the shortest dated goods dumped in your delivery make sure you complain.

Supermarkets are very good at refunding money for unsatisfactory goods and will often throw in a voucher to boot.

DON'T be loyal

When you shop in store your choice of supermarket will largely be dictated by convenience but with online shopping it's easy to sample the lot.

By shopping - and in some cases even just registering - with several stores you can enjoy playing them off against each other and look forward to a regular stream of money-off vouchers when you haven't used one for a while.

Tesco regularly sends £15 vouchers out, while Ocado offers discounts worth up to 25% off your next shop. Stores including Tesco, Sainsbury's and Ocado all offer a typical £10 off your first online shop too.

Check out this week's top 10 voucher codes

DO shop alone

Whether you're shopping online or in store make sure you do it alone. Let the kids - or your partner - get too involved and you'll find a whole host of things you neither need, nor want in your trolley.

DON'T buy packaged fruit and veg

It's cheaper to buy your fruit and veg loose rather than prepackaged. Sainsbury's charges £2 per kilo for loose broccoli, for example, while the cellophane-wrapped alternative costs £3 for the same quantity. You are literally paying an extra £1 for the packaging.

DO cook twice what you need

It takes as much effort to cook one shepherd's pie as it does two, so if you're making food that freezes well cook twice the quantity you need.

Portion up the extra into individual and family-sized servings for the freezer to save you buying ready meals or running to the takeaway on nights you don't feel like slaving over a hot stove.

DON'T neglect your local market

If you have a local food market take the opportunity to stock up on fruit and veg - it's usually cheaper than the supermarket, particularly at the end of the day when traders are keen to get rid of their stock.

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