Ah, the supermarket, our old nemesis. No matter how much money you manage to save on things like energy bills and car costs, it can prove infuriating to try and pinch the pennies when it comes to your weekly shop. There are ways in which it can be done, however, ten ways, in fact, that will help you save a considerable amount of money over the course of a year!
1. Plan your meals
Lists are your friend when it comes to supermarket savings. Shop for the week ahead; plan your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), check what other items you are running out of, and make a list of what you will need. Knowing exactly what to pick up means that meandering between the aisles will be kept to a minimum, and you are much less likely to be tempted by things you don’t need.
2. Compare baskets
Comparing shopping baskets isn’t as time-consuming as it sounds. All you need to do is visit MySupermarket and use their My Basket tool. Simply choose your usual supermarket from the list and add items to your basket using the navigation bar at the top. You will then be able to see how much these items cost at competing supermarkets, and even if there’s an offer on.
3. Don’t be deterred by ‘Value’ brands
Value and own brand groceries come with a certain stigma attached to them, a stigma that insists they are cheap and nasty. On the contrary, most of them don’t taste any different, and are a whole lot more affordable. In fact, many of the well-known brand provide the food for the shop brand alternative anyway! Take a look at Money Saving Expert’s ‘Downshift Challenge’ savings calculator to see how much you could save, and don’t be afraid to swap out one of your regular products for a value or own brand alternative this week. You could be pleasantly surprised!
4. Take special offers with a pinch of salt
Supermarkets are sneaky entities. They’re strategically laid out to encourage you to not just buy more, but to buy more expensively, and it doesn’t end there – special offers aren’t always what they seem, either. While it doesn’t happen quite so often now the Office of Fair Trading has introduced new guidelines, offers that end up costing more than the original price do still crop up. Don’t be taken in by that specially designed price tag – be vigilant, do the maths, and find a cheaper alternative.
5. Shop at savvy times
Although it varies from store to store, after about 7PM there are savings to be had at our leading supermarkets. This is the time when items are reduced to clear, and you can buy everything from meat and fish, to prepared meals and baked goods at a generously low price. All you have to do is stick them in the freezer, then eat them within 24 hours of defrosting.
Other savvy times to shop are when you’re a little more pressed for time (reducing the temptation to wander around and let things catch your eye), or when you are feeling full (so you aren’t tempted to satisfy your cravings with additional treats).
6. Use coupons (wisely)
We have added a cautionary ‘wisely’ here, because not all coupons will save you money. Would you really have bought those four industrial-sized ice cream tubs if you didn’t have a money-off coupon for them?
The general rule is that if it wouldn’t normally be on your shopping list, throw the coupon away.
7. Register with a cashback site
Cashback sites are still relatively under the radar, but are a great way to make little savings throughout the year. Until recently, these savings could only be made when shopping online, but the two main cashback contenders, Quidco and Top Cashback, can now help you save on in-store shopping, too.
Quidco’s ‘ClickSnap’ and Top Cashback’s ‘Snap & Save’ features allow you to browse their supermarket offers, before snapping and uploading a picture of your receipt. Both brands even have a mobile app, so you can do so in seconds. You could even ‘stack’ coupons to save even more – using something like an Asda voucher for a cheese which is also featured on ClickSnap or Snap & Save.
8. Mix and match supermarkets
We all have a favourite supermarket – one that has won our allegiance through convenience, price or product selection. But what if there was a cheaper alternative? What if some of their products could be bought for less? It might seem like a faff, but visiting different supermarkets to save as much money as possible is a worthwhile exercise. Budget names like Aldi and Lidl might not boast as much choice, but they will save you a bundle.
9. Shop online
Shopping online might incur a delivery cost, but choose the right delivery time and you’ll find they pale in comparison to what you could save on your groceries. By shopping online you won’t be wandering around aisles full of distractions, and will be able to see your subtotal adding up as you go along. That way, you can simply remove anything you don’t really need with just one click, rather than getting a nasty surprise at the till.
10. Don’t waste leftovers
Reports state that we Brits throw away a shocking 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year. The main culprit is the fact that we are simply buying too much, and being left with an overwhelming amount of food waste. It doesn’t have to be waste, however; if you cook too much dinner, freeze the leftovers. If you have things left in your fridge, combine as many as possible into a recipe or, if they aren’t on the cusp of their use by date, stick them in the freezer.
Image credit: kozumel / Flickr.com