With prices soaring as the end of the year approaches, we’re all looking for ways to cut down our expenses. And the food shop is a great place to start, especially as we gear up for the holidays.
As the penny-pinching folks at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk point out, reducing how much you spend doesn’t mean you’ll go hungry. It just means shopping smarter, shopping around and only buying what you actually need.
Here are their tips for keeping your food costs down.
1. Shop with a list
Don’t just walk into the supermarket and start putting things into your trolley. This is especially dangerous if you’re going food shopping when you’re hungry – you’ll end up with a pile of snacks and things you don’t need.
Instead, write down a list of essentials before you leave home. Even better, plan meals before you go food shopping. If you already know you’ll be making pasta tonight, you can then figure out what ingredients you’re missing, like sauce, grated cheese or veggies.
2. Don’t be afraid to try new brands
Expensive isn’t always better. If you always buy the same products, give the shop’s own brand a try instead next time – you might find that their products are just as good.
NetVoucherCodes.co.uk recommends trying the ‘downshift challenge’. Basically, just drop one brand level with everything you buy. If you can’t tell the difference, stick with the cheaper option. This works particularly well with basic staples such as rice, toiletries and cleaning products.
3. Snap up discounted products
Many shops offer yellow sticker discounts for products about to expire or past their ‘best before’ dates. In many cases, the discounts are large and the products will be just as good as they were a day earlier.
According to the Food Standards Agency, “best-before dates are about quality and not safety”. This means the texture or flavour of the food might not be at its best after that date, but it will still be perfectly safe.
4. Use cashback sites
Places like Quidco and Topcashback will reimburse you a percentage of your purchase if you buy things through their links.
5. Change the way you look for things on shelves
According to NetVoucherCodes.co.uk, supermarkets strategically place their most profitable items at eye level. To find better deals, look up or down to see whether the products are cheaper.
It’s also worth checking out the World Food aisle. Things like spices and sauces are often cheaper there than buying a local brand.
6. Take advantage of coupons
If you’ve been ignoring coupons, you’re missing out. Couponing doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. You can start looking for voucher discounts on the packaging of products you buy or even on your supermarket receipts.
7. Make sure a discounted product is actually cheaper
Just because something is marked as ‘on sale’ doesn’t mean it’s cheap. In fact, you might still be able to get a different brand cheaper than the discounted one. Always question great deals and look around for options before deciding.
8. Don’t fall for tricky marketing
Things like ‘value packs’ and ‘mini packs’ are designed to appeal to your sense of convenience and eagerness to save. But neither of these are necessarily cheaper than buying just a regular size pack. Make sure you read labels and compare weight and price when shopping.
9. Don’t waste leftovers
Brits waste £250 million of food a week – and that includes leftovers they don’t know what to do with. You can always freeze batches of food for later. But you can also use already cooked veggies to add to pasta, sauces or soups. Or you can mix that leftover rice with beans or eggs for a quick meal.