We all know that the cost of living crisis seems to be never-ending, and the news that grocery price inflation hit a record 17.1% in the four weeks to the 19th of February, 2023, is just another reason to feel a bit despondent!
This increased inflation means that the average family will face extra grocery costs of £811 on average if they don't do something to cut costs! Now that's easier said than done, but with some planning, it's not impossible, even with ever-escalating grocery prices.
Here are 13 money-saving tips to help reduce the bill when grocery shopping:
Do a weekly meal plan and make a shopping grocery list - Families can avoid impulse purchases and stick to a budget by planning meals for the week ahead. Don't shop hungry either; even just having a drink before you shop may decrease the chances of you feeling hungry; buying with your tummy rather than your shopping list is a good way to get suckered into impulse buys, meaning higher prices and blowing your grocery budget!
Batch cook - I tend to use up things in the fridge that have been sitting there for a while or are close to their expiration dates on a Sunday. I'll make meals for the week, or freeze them, so we have quick and easy meals ready to go when we all crash through the door after a busy day at school or work. It lessens the likelihood of either myself or my partner saying bugger it, let's just get a takeaway; I can't be bothered to cook as I'm tired! I'm sure it's not just our family that has that kind of issue, but having ready-made meals is very convenient, not to mention cheaper and healthier than a takeaway! This doesn't mean you have to spend all day cooking; I often throw something in the slow cooker in the morning or even as I'm going to bed, which is a simple way for quick and easy meals.
Shop around for the best deals - Supermarkets often offer discounts on certain items at different times, so it's worth checking out other stores to get the better deal. Use apps such as Trolley to compare the prices of the most expensive items you need to buy before you head out. This helps you find the lowest price or find similar items with sale prices; it can save you a chunk of change!
If you see a yellow sticker deal, grab it! It can make a difference to your grocery costs if you use these reduced-to-clear grocery items well. I saved over £20k using them daily for a couple of years! Remember, a sell-by date differs from a use-by date and can often be used for far longer than the label implies, especially on products such as fresh vegetables and fruits.
Don't forget to use cashback apps like Cheddar or Topcashback to save money on your supermarket spend. Use supermarket cashback apps like Shopmium, CheckoutSmart and GreenJinn to grab grocery discounts or even freebies, plus make use of the supermarket's own loyalty schemes, which can also save you a lot of money, especially if you try and buy products on promotion, (check there aren't own brands versions though, they will likely still be cheaper!)
Buy in bulk - Buying less-perishable items in bulk can be cost-effective in the long run. There is, of course, the initial cost outlay, but if you're buying things you use a lot cheaper because you're buying a larger size pack, there's a good chance you'll save money in the long run. It's also easier than having to shop more often, buying a smaller amount of the food you use regularly, and lowering the number of food shops you need to make, reducing the number of potential impulse buys and any costs of having to travel to the shops! Buying from the likes of Costco may not necessarily be cheaper (especially when you factor in the annual fee for shopping in the store), so look about before you buy. Often smaller/independent stores or online discount stores that offer bulk buys work out cheaper, especially on products such as rice and pasta.
Cook from scratch - Cooking meals using fresh ingredients can be cheaper than buying pre-packaged meals. Convenience foods do have their place for family mealtimes, especially on busy days when you're short of time, but you will find that cooking from scratch will often be cheaper and probably healthier too. Plenty of books, websites and Facebook groups offer quick-to-prepare and cheap meals you can make in a rush from scratch if you need some inspiration.
Use leftovers - Leftovers can be turned into delicious meals for the next day, reducing the need to buy additional ingredients and are a great way to save money. There are loads of websites to give you inspiration on what to make with what leftovers you have, and you might be surprised it's such an easy way to feed the family for cheap. Meals can easily be made, such as using leftover veggies to make a soup or maybe using leftover chicken in a pasta dish; sliced meat can be reheated easily by laying the slices in a baking tray, covered with either leftover gravy, or, if no gravy, just water or stock, and then covered and cooked in the oven until its warms through thoroughly, means no more tough reheated meat, it'll come out soft and succulent, and could be served with mash potato perhaps. I like leftover meat pan-fried with cajun spices and fried onions, served in a roll or wrap, with mustard, yummy!
Buy own-brand products - Own-brand, with cheaper options on popular products, can be just as good as the more expensive brand names, but often at a lower total cost. The cost of living crisis has meant that most supermarkets have reviewed their own brand ranges and generic brands, enhanced the number of products and introduced cheaper 'Essentials' ranges, which are very competitively priced and can slash the cost of buying big branded products, and in some cases, the taste own brand products have been favoured over the big brand alternatives!
Freeze food - Freeze fresh produce or meals about to go out of date to avoid wasting food. Even if it's just freezing parts of a meal or leftovers for use on another day, it will help. I always do this for Yorkshire Puddings; I always make too many, or if I have leftover batter, I'll make extra and freeze them, and then just pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes to reheat, and its saves time, food waste, cost and effort of making them fresh each time.
Reduce meat consumption - Meat is often the most expensive item on the shopping list, so eating less can help cut food bills. Introduce Meat-free Mondays or veggie options for your favourite meals; it's an excellent way to use the forgotten veg at the bottom of the fridge, avoid food waste and is likely healthier!
Grow your own produce - Growing your own fruits and vegetables can be a fun and cost-effective way to eat healthier. We don't all have gardens, but even a windowsill can be all you need to grow it yourself. Check out our grow-your-own blog post, which gives you ideas on how to do this.
Avoid food waste - Throwing away food is like throwing away money, so families can save money by avoiding food waste through proper storage and meal planning. Use food waste reduction apps such as Too Good To Go and Olio to grab great deals on short-life food that needs to be used rather than thrown away and can be obtained for a significant discount or even free!
It's worth looking into budgeting apps to help you with planning your finances and food spending. There is a good review of UK budgeting apps on the Koody website, which is well worth looking at.