How much should we spend on our family food shop? How can I save money but still eat well? How can I survive on a tight budget every week? Is it possible to shop locally and still keep to a budget?
Food shopping doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, in fact it can be rather “cheap” and you will be surprised how much food you can get for your doe.
I have managed to do each food shop every year for around £30-£50 every week, which has saved me hundreds of pounds a year and we haven’t really seen a change in the quality of food which we have purchased.
How do I do it?
One of my biggest tips for saving money on your food shops is to shop around. Staying with just one retailer or using a familiar brand every single time costs you money in the long run.
However sometimes loyalty can help save you money. Downloading the loyalty apps for the shops you go to is a great way to save money. They produce coupons and deals especially for their returning customers and the more points you earn the better deals you get. But don’t think that it means you have to only shop in one place every week. Sometimes the products you need for the week might be cheaper else where.
I have about 4 apps on my phone for the different shops I go to – Lidl and Aldi included and this is brilliant! It means I am always able to save money and shop where ever I desire.
List it up
Making a list of the food you want to buy for the week is absolutely crucial! If you don’t do anything else that I suggest then please at least take this one away with you.
Making a list ensures that you only get the products on your list. You don’t get anything that’s not on the list, even if you have a sudden desire for that extra packet of crisps.
I always organise my list in the order of the store to make sure that it is easy for me to follow and less likely that I am going to forget something or miss something from the ingredients needed for the week. Making a list literally only takes about 5 mins of your life and will save you soo much money as long as you stick to it. Plus this also ensures that you know what is in your cupboards, fridge and freezer as you check you haven’t already got the product before shopping.
Unless you actually need 2 packs of whatever is on the BOGOF offer, don’t touch it. Double check the prices per 100g or 1l, and check out what product really is saving you money.
Only buy what you need.
So many times I have heard from customers at my shop “I’m buying 4 packs so I can put 2 in the freezer”, or “most of this will probably end up in the bin (awkward laugh)”. The problem is, if it goes into the freezer and it’s not already frozen you don’t need that product. If the product is probably just going to go to waste, then again you don’t need that much.
We all have different requirements for our food needs and buying more than we need is just throwing our money away.
Eat before the shop
NEVER shop on an empty stomach. Doing this for me adds about £20 onto my shop. When you are hungry you are more likely to buy snacks and food you didn’t intentionally go out to buy.
Having a snack or going out after your meal (any time of the day) is probably the best way to go shopping in order to save money. I always make sure that I am not food shopping on an empty stomach as going out hungry has resulted in me purchasing items to eat “now” but ending up with 2-3 weeks worth of snacks and food instead. It isn’t worth it.
Write your list, stick to it and eat before you go shopping. x
Know what’s in your cupboards
This is important as you don’t want to end up purchasing food you already have. This also includes checking your fridge, freezer and fruit bowl as you don’t want to end up with too much food, resulting in a lot of food waste.
I usually check my cupboards when I have done my meal plan for the week as it is part of my routine for planning my food shop, it ensures that I know exactly what I need for my meals for the week and what I have surplus off in the cupboards so I can plan a meal to use up all the food in my cupboards.
This is something I have always done. I plan my meals for the week, and I make a list of the ingredients I need. Having a plan means that you are less likely to end up buying a takeaway, as you know what you are going to make for your meals.
To see how I plan my weekly meals out see my post My Weekly Meal Plan.
Planning ahead has really been a life saver for me, it saves me time during the week as I don’t need to think about what food I am making, and it saves me the arguments of “I want this” or “I don’t want this” as I can ask whether my plan sounds good, or even leave at least 1 day as a day for others to choose the meal.
Set yourself a budget and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to buy items that are in the reduced to clear section, as most of the time the products have a day or 2 on them and can be used a little past their date too. (Things like bread don’t go out of date just mouldy, and veg can last a lot longer than their best before dates)- knowing the difference between a best before and a use by date is important when looking at items in the reduced to clear section. You can bag yourself some real bargains from these sections.
I’m not saying to bring a calculator with you when you go shopping, but just to be conscious of how much you are spending on products, a 20p can of baked beans is just as good as a £1.09 can, sometimes healthier with lower salt/sugar levels.
I hope that my tips help you in saving money for your food shop.
Please let me know what you think. Or anything extra that you do to save money.