Saving money on your shopping bills

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If you want to save money when you’re shopping, there are lots of ways to do this. But you have to be savvy or you could end up buying more than you need.  Find out about saving money on your shopping bills.

Plan, plan, plan

Planning what you’re going to cook can seem like a real faff, but it does save time and money in the end. Even if you don’t want to plan family meals every day in detail, get an idea of what you’ll eat before you go shopping.

SAVVY TIP: Websites such as Netmums and mumsnet have meal planners as does Love food, hate waste.

Make a list

Not quite the same as planning, but it will help you save money. I’m an avid list-maker and find that whenever I go to the shops without one I invariably buy things I don’t need.

Don’t take offers at face value

My local supermarket — like most of them — has the endearing habit of highlighting every price cut as though we’re all about to win the lottery — even when the price has been reduced by a penny or two.

Tricks I’ve spotted are:

– Three for two/ bulk buy offers that are more expensive than buying the items individually.

– Prices being hiked up just before the offer so the saving looks bigger than it really is.

SAVVY TIP: Don’t assume that because it says ‘price saver’ it will actually save you any money. It’s especially true about fresh food – which can go off before you have a chance to use it – or luxuries that you may not have treated yourself to anyway.

Be wary about stocking up on lots of fruit and veg

I don’t know what the figures are but I know we Brits tend to throw away huge amounts of fruit and veg. Be realistic about what you’ll be able to eat before your next shop.

SAVVY TIP: Do compare the cost of buying fruit and vegetables loose compared to prepacked bags. It’s not always the case that it’s a lot cheaper but it often is.

Use ‘value’ ranges

There are some types of food where we’re very brand loyal (often coffee or cereal!), but most supermarkets have really good value ranges and you can save quite a lot by buying them.

SAVVY TIP: Some supermarkets sell ‘value’ ranges of things like apples, which are too small to sell as part of their normal range. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just the wrong size.

Use discount supermarkets

Discount supermarkets, like Aldi and Lidl, can be much cheaper than the mainstream supermarkets and the quality can be very good. But the range is often limited — there may be only one ‘own brand’ for certain lines and other things may be impossible to buy altogether.
Pick and choose what you buy as some items aren’t cheaper than in the other supermarkets.

SAVVY TIP: These shops often don’t take credit cards so you’ll have to pay by cash or debit card and you’ll normally be charged for carrier bags.

Check your receipts

Sometimes the correct discounts aren’t applied to your shopping and sometimes the display and prices don’t match. It’s worth checking your receipt at the time if you can to make sure you’ve not paid over the odds.

Try and use what you’ve bought

I know I’m the type of person who gets slightly nervous if the food cupboard or fridge runs low — I prefer to have a variety of things in stock. But it does mean I can end up with rather tired looking fruit and veg if I’m not careful. Here are some suggestions for using up unloved ingredients.

  • Make soups with vegetables. They don’t have to be fresh from the field — or even supermarket — to make a tasty soup. You don’t have to eat soup all week either as you can freeze it.
  • Make puree from fruit. Freeze it as before and use as a sauce.
  • Put leftover wine in an ice cube tray in the freezer and use it for cooking.

Go wholesale

There’s not much point in doing this if there’s only one of you, but if you have a largeish family, you may save money by paying a fee to join a wholesaler and stocking up on basics such as loo rolls, pasta, washing powder/liquid etc. You’ll need some storage space as well!

Related articles:

Five easy(ish) ways to make extra cash

How to get a bargain in the sales

Your rights when shopping for clothes in the sales

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