How to save money on your grocery shopping
This is one of those posts which at first I thought was stating the obvious a bit, as this is the way myself and my husband have always shopped, even when I was on around £25k a year more than I am now with no children. Because at the end of the day, who wants to waste money on food that could go on a night out/a holiday/baby clothes/paying the bills (delete as appropriate). The point is, even when you don’t need to count every penny there’s still no point in wasting it!
You will notice as well I haven’t put a figure on how much you can save, because obviously that depends on how many people are in your family and what you are spending already. Currently, for 2 adults and a 2 year old we spend no more than £200 a month on groceries, cleaning products and basic toiletries. (I don’t include luxury toiletries such as make up for myself – this would come out of my own personal spending money as needed.) As I stated above, I thought this was about average until friends commented that some of them almost spend this amount a week! If this is you, and you have a freezer, then hopefully you might find some of the following tips useful.
- Do 1 “big shop” a month. This is the key to saving money and what we have always done! I couldn’t imagine having to do a shop every week, whether online or in the shop. Unless you are very disciplined (or very skint) it is difficult to not end up buying more than you planned! I am terrible for this and always a sucker for special offers.
Obviously fruit, veg and other fresh produce need topping up but I find I only need to do this once in the middle of the month.
- Have a rough meal plan. By no means an original tip, and some people will probably wince at the thought of being that organised, but there’s a reason it gets repeated so often when it comes to money saving. I’m not talking laminated recipe cards on a grid a la Pinterest either, mine was literally a scribbled list in biro that gets stuck on the fridge after the shop.
I then decided to get a bit more organised and typed up a list of all the evening meals I could think of that we ate on a regular basis, as well as our usual lunch rotations of sandwiches, soup, omelettes, etc. (Breakfast is always cereal or toast and even if it isn’t, it doesn’t need planning for other than on my shopping list.) Saving the list as a Word document means it can easily be amended if new meals are added. I then print out a new list every month and stick to the fridge. I cross off any of the meals I have not shopped the ingredients for. I might also circle things we are definitely going to have, but I leave the rest of the list visible because it’s easy to rely on the same few recipes and forget about others you might want to give a try.
- Avoid as many ready meals / prepared cooking sauces / cooking packs as possible. Again, this is always how we have shopped, even when our household income was over £70k a year! I don’t cut everything out completely, and we do have a couple of staples for busy nights when we don’t have time to cook, but other than that most of our meals are made from scratch, in bulk, so there is plenty to freeze for other nights when time is limited after work.
- Brand Downshifting
As a rule we usually buy Asda’s own label for most items. There are a couple where we’ve downshifted to the budget Smartprice range as there as been no difference in product quality, although I have switched to buying some items from Aldi when I do my £20-£30 mid month “top up” shop. There are also some items that I buy the premium brand for because I’ve tried the lesser version and not liked it. In these cases I will try and buy when on offer if at all possible. More savings could definitely be made if we were desperate but currently I’m happy with the amount we spend.
- Bulk Buy where possible (and not just food)
If you have access to a wholesalers or cash n’ carry then big savings can be made on items such as toilet roll, washing powder and dishwasher tablets. I am fortunate enough to have a Makro card, these are only available for businesses so not open to everyone but I much prefer it to Costco as for a start there is no annual fee for being a member. Makro also regularly have buy 1 get one free offers which is where I utilise the biggest savings.
Although it is great for the items stated above, it doesn’t always work out cheaper for other things. Cat food, for example, was cheaper in Asda for a 40 pack of Felix As Good As it Looks (I have a fussy cat). I have found that the non-bulk food items tend to be more expensive also, so the rule is to definitely compare prices beforehand.
If you aren’t eligible to be a Makro member you can still buy online from their site, although you cannot access the instore special offers this way.
Alternatively, check if there is another wholesaler in your local area. JTF for example, have some similar deals to Makro and anyone can become a member for free. They have locations throughout the Midlands and North of England.
So there are my 5 tips for saving money on your grocery shop. Is there anything you would add to or do differently? Leave me a comment – I would love to gather some new tips!