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Money saving

Top tips on how to save money on your ‘big shop’

Posted 23 June 2016 by Christine Walsh

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Want to become a savvy food shopper? Check out our top tips for a budget-friendly shop.

Sticking to a budget and buying only what you need sounds simple – but how easy is this to do? 

When you visit the supermarket and see lots of tasty products on sale, it can be all too easy to go on a bit of a spending spree. And if you’re one to be tempted by impulse buys, you might find that you come out with a trolley full of products you don’t really want or need.

Check out our five top tips to save money on your food shop. 

1. Plan ahead

Planning your meals is not only a time saver but can make a big difference to the cost of your weekly shop. Take some time to have a look around at dishes that take your fancy and what you’ll need to make them. 

Why not have a notepad or board in the kitchen with your planned daily meals? You can always mix and match these meals too depending on what you fancy on that particular day. 

A good trick is to buy ingredients that can be used to cook a variety of meals. This way you can be more flexible when cooking your dishes as well as making sure you’re getting your money’s worth. 

If you plan what you’re going to have for your breakfast and lunch as well, you might find there’s an even bigger saving to be had.

2. Make the list 

Although planning and writing a list can be a chore, knowing what you need before you step foot into the supermarket can be a real money saver. Sticking to a shopping list can not only help you dash through the aisles a lot quicker, but most importantly encourage you to only buy what you need. You’ll find yourself less likely to fall for the impulse buys which the supermarkets cleverly place around the store to tempt you to spend your cash. 

It’s a good idea to check your fridge, freezer and cupboards before you make your list. This might sound like an obvious thing to do, but it can be so frustrating if you dart off to the shops only to wander around the store debating whether you already have the ingredients at home.

3. Reduced products

The time you decide to shop can help cut the cost down. Depending on the supermarket, you can pick up discounts by shopping later in the evening or before the store closes. Supermarkets reduce items that are soon to be out of date to avoid food wastage and zero profit for the store. Because of this, you can grab yourself a great bargain. If you don’t want to cook and eat the food that day, you can always freeze the reduced food. This is a great way to save yourself some cash. 

Another great tip when shopping is to select products from the back of the shelf or fridge. Supermarkets tend to place products with shorter expiry dates at the front to encourage a quicker sale. This is particularly important to consider when buying foods that can’t be frozen. By doing this, you can help avoid wasting food and money.  

4. Alternative ways to shop 

The scan and shop system available at many supermarkets is a great way to track your spending. The idea is to scan the barcodes and pack as you go. The benefit of this is that you get to see what you’re spending as you go along without the need to unload and pack at the checkout. Plus, you can make sure that any reduced items have scanned up at the discounted price. This can also be a great way to keep the little ones entertained – why not get them to scan the items?   

If shopping from the comfort of your own couch sounds like bliss, why not shop online? No more weaving in and out of trolleys amongst the crowds – you can have your shopping delivered straight to your door. You can save money switching online. Many supermarkets offer promotions for first time online shoppers such as money off your first shop, depending on the amount you spend. Be sure to check the internet for the best offer and discount codes for free delivery to reduce your spending further.

5. Cash or card?

Can choosing between paying with cash or card impact on how much you spend? This may be something you have never thought about before. Let’s explore how both options may help you save money. 

Withdrawing a set amount of cash per week can be a great way to ensure you stick to a budget. If you don’t have it, you won’t spend it. A good tip is to have a jar at home where you can keep any leftover change from the shop to avoid spending it. When it’s time for your next shop, take the change and only withdraw the remaining amount to top it backup to your weekly budget. 

Depending on your bank, you might be able to claim cashback on purchases made on your card. This is a great way to make an extra saving on your shopping.  These offers usually need to be activated before you can claim, so make sure you checkout any cashback deals before you spend. Also, if you shop online it’s worth checking if any of these cashback deals are available before using your card.  

Either way you can save yourself a few quid – you just need to know what works best for you. 

Just keep your budget in mind so you’re not tempted to overspend. 

If you’re struggling to stay within budget on further areas of life, make sure you check out our other money saving blogs.

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.