The weekly food shop comes high on the list of priorities for most homes across Hull and East Yorkshire . After paying household bills and rent, it can also be one of the biggest expenses.
But there are plenty of ways to save vital funds while wandering the supermarket aisles to take the pre-payday pressure off.
Stay away from ready meals
While we’ve all been forced to rely on a ready meal every so often, they’re expensive and you’re paying purely for the ease of it.
Ready meals also tend to have more salt and sugar in them than home-cooked meal, meaning not only are they costly, they’re not overly healthy.
It’s much more cost efficient to cook everything from scratch and that way you are in charge of the portion size too. Also, don’t buy anything that has been sliced, diced or grated. Again, you pay a premium for being lazy.
Cook seasonally and grow your own
If you want strawberries in January, they’re going to come at a price… do your research about what fruits and vegetables are in season and plan your shop accordingly.
Buying fresh herbs regularly can also become an expensive business, so why not try to set up your own miniature herb garden on your windowsill?
Don’t buy ready-made sauces but instead make your own in bulk and freeze them in portion-sized freezer bags. Making your own sauces is also great if you have fussy children, it’s a great way of sneaking some vegetables into their diet.
Meat can also be costly, so why not try to bulk out that bolognese or stew with more vegetables, lentils or beans – it’ll taste just as good (if not better).
Buy supermarket own brand
Often you will be paying for the name when it comes to buying a certain brand of food. They might have fancier packaging but that doesn’t mean the food tastes any better.
You aren’t necessarily paying for tastier food, but for a glossy covering and their expensive marketing campaigns – sometimes own-brand products are even made in the same factories as branded goods.
Stay away from snack packs
You will pay more for those ready-made snack packs for lunchboxes. It might take a bit more time to chop up some carrots or an apple, but doing it yourself will make it far, far cheaper.
You could also buy a big box of breadsticks and break them into smaller ones for a snack.
Always check the reduced section
This may sound obvious, but we bet a lot of people forget to look. Often the reduced section will have something already on your list for half the price.
Shopping online can be less stressful and completely free from distractions. Lots of supermarkets will offer you incentives to shop with them such as money-off vouchers.
Ocado offers you 30 per cent off your first grocery shop and free deliveries for a year. Waitrose offers free next day delivery when you spend £60 and Sainsbury’s does a delivery pass where you can save yourself up to £156 a year.
Use your freezer
Frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh but are often cheaper and will last longer too. It’s always good to have a mixed bag of vegetables in your freezer for emergencies. You can also freeze most meat once you’ve purchased it, and stock up on freezer storage as well to keep everything separated.
Meals like chillis, stews, soups or pasta sauces are perfect for freezing – and it’s always nice to know there’s something waiting just to be heated up on an evening you don’t fancy cooking.
Pay in cash
Work out how much your shop is roughly supposed to be and take the cash out to pay for it. If you know you only have a certain amount of money with you, you are much less likely to overspend, it really works.
Buy your basics in bulk
Don’t be afraid to buy your basics in bulk. Paper goods, such as toilet rolls, don’t deteriorate. Onions and potatoes will keep if stored properly and meat can be frozen.
Pasta, rice, porridge oats and other dried goods will also be cheaper the more you buy, just make sure that you check the details carefully and be certain that they are a good price and deal.
Plan for all of your meals
This could be the best tip of the lot. A bit of forward planning goes a long way and if you know there’s a meal waiting for you at home, it’ll be less tempting to spend more money on a last-minute takeaway or meal out.
When meal planning you will want to check the weather for the week. There is no point planning a stew if the weather is going to be boiling hot. You will also want to look at the family’s evening commitments, so you don’t cook an elaborate dinner if it’s a night where everyone is going out.
During the week you will probably want your meal plan to include quick meals. Once you have made your plan stick it somewhere the whole family can see it. It sounds obvious but make a shopping list from your meal plan and stick to it. Write it in the order you will go around the shop, skipping any isles you don’t need such as chocolate or homeware. They’re easy extra spending traps.
Eat before you shop
Whatever you do, don’t shop hungry. An empty stomach will make you fill your basket or trolley with food that you don’t need. You have heard the saying of eating with your eyes, well the same can be said for shopping. When our belly is empty, our eyes want everything.
Eating before we go means that we will feel more satisfied and as a result we will make sensible decisions when we go shopping.
Check and clear out those cupboards
You don’t want to go to the shop to buy that tube of tomato puree when you already have three other tubes sat at home. Before you go to the shop check your fridge, freezer and cupboards for what you already have in. You could even take a photo so that you have a visual reminder. Anything that’s out of date you can get rid of along the way so that you don’t realise when you come to use it and it’s too late.
Shop on your own
Children can make the food shop quite stressful, as a result that means we are more likely to make bad choices. That expensive bar of chocolate is calling, that bottle of wine has our name on it, and a bag of buttons to keep the children quiet. Shopping on your own will mean that you are more focused and you make better decisions.
Shops will do everything they can to keep you from going into other stores. You need to play the shopping field as some supermarkets will sell certain items at cheaper prices.
You might find that it is cheaper to get your fruit and vegetables from one store, and your meat from another. Using more than one shop will help you make bigger savings.
Consider stores like Lidl, Aldi and your local butchers, grocers and food market. The supermarket might not be the best place to pick up toiletries and cleaning products.
Try leaving these off the list and getting them on the high street. Or for a greener alternative, look up vinegar-based cleaning product recipes and make your own for less.
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