The weekly food shop. Some people love it, some people hate it, but everyone does it. Because food is a necessity, it can be difficult to tell when we’re spending too much on it – particularly if we have a family to feed too.
There are so many supermarkets to choose from nowadays, and all of them have the classic “two for one” offers advertised in every aisle or two, just waiting for people like us to eat them up and buy enough produce to feed the five thousand!
It’s a necessary evil, but if you shop smarter, you could end up saving a LOT of money on your food bill, and ultimately have more disposable income left at the end of the month.
Plan your meals in advance
If you wanted to sell your house quickly and cut the costs, what would be the first thing you would do? You’d research how this can be done most effectively, and plan accordingly. Of course that’s just an example, but it can be used when it comes to cutting the costs on your food shopping too.
So you’re already here, reading this. That counts as research, right? The next thing you should be doing is planning in advance, and meal planning is the perfect place to start.
It’s a “going back to basics” method of saving, sure, but there’s no denying that sometimes the old methods are the best, and there’s a reason they’re still around today. Now, meal planning doesn’t mean you have to cut things out and eat crazy healthy like an avid gym goer from now on – it just means you’ll have all of your meals pre-planned in order to make your life easier. It could also save a lot of dinnertime deliberation and disagreements amongst the family too, so that’s a plus.
If you do your shopping on a Saturday morning, then sit down with the household on a Friday night and plan your meals for the rest of the week. Getting everyone involved gives everybody a say on which meals make the list that week and which ones don’t, which means there’s going to be something for everyone on there! It’s not a rigid formula that must be followed – the “menu” if you like can change week for week, it’s the planning ahead that counts. Remember to account for snacks and treats too!
Meal planning means you’ll only buy what you’ll need from the supermarket. It will save money and reduce food waste.
Make a list, check it twice
It might not be Christmas just yet, but now it’s time to make the most important list of all – the almighty shopping list.
A lot of people roll their eyes at shopping lists and think they know what they need, but if you want to save on your spending, then give it a go and make sure you stick to it or it won’t work at all.
Have a look at your meal plan for the week, and figure out what you need from that. Once you know all of the things that you’ll need to make it work, then put all of these ingredients in a list – snacks and treats included.
Be sure to check your cupboards first though to make sure you’re not buying ingredients you already have.
Having a list to refer back to means you’ll only be buying what you need, and you won’t be sucked in by special offers (unless they’re beneficial to the plan or the list themselves). As previously mentioned, the notorious “two for one” signs are strategically placed throughout all of the supermarkets in order to entice buyers into saving money – but it’s only saving money if it’s on the things that you need, remember that. Stay strong, stick to the list, and you’ll reap the benefits.
Freeze, freeze, freeze
Last but certainly not least, remember that you have a freezer for a reason – and use it to your advantage.
If your fresh veg is always going off quickly then switch to frozen veg instead which lasts much longer. There’s also evidence that frozen veg is just as nutritious, or even more so, than fresh veg if it’s frozen quickly when picked and not sat on shelves for ages!
Do consider freezing your produce if you haven’t used it by the use by date on its packet. It’s a great way of keeping things fresh and preventing you from throwing out food which could be eaten at a later date.
Likewise, if you have leftovers, don’t bin them – freeze them – especially if there’s plenty there! If you’ve got enough left over for a meal the following week or a lunch to take to work tomorrow, then either freeze or refrigerate it accordingly. Not only is this an eco-friendly alternative to contributing to landfill issues, but it’s going to help you to save both time and money in the future too. Result.
Let everyone serve themselves
Rather than serving up meals onto everyones individual plates, put the food in the middle of the table and let everyone serve themselves how much they want to eat. That way the leftovers can be easily saved for another time. When you serve too much on each person's plate, you might not want to save the leftover food from their actual plates and would instead throw it away.
Compost your food waste
No-one should ever be throwing uneaten food or peels into landfill anymore. The local councils offer a food recycling service right on your doorstep so food waste can be turned into compost and fuel. You can save yourself some money in the garden by making your own compost at home to save buying it each year from the garden centre.
And don't forget the dog!
It would shock you if you were to analyse the cost of feeding your dog for a year. Whether you're one to keep one too many cans stuffed away in a cupboard, or you get a shock every time you take a bag of kibble to checkout, you can shop smarter when it comes to pet food. There are special brands like Bella & Duke that create custom meals based on what type of dog you have (they also do cats!) Because they're organic, there's no nasty stuff or unnecessary filler; just Google some of the ingredients on a can of pet food to give yourself a shock.
Want even more tips on how to save money at the supermarket?
I have lots more helpful blog posts on how you can save even more at the supermarket, or even make money from your supermarket shopping!
Read these to find out more: