One of the easiest ways to reduce outgoings is to save money on food shopping. Food is a necessity. It’s something we all buy regularly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it cheaper.
Before I went on maternity leave, we used to shop without a budget or shopping list. We would spend anywhere between £250-350 a month on our ‘big shop’ and still end up at the shops several times in between. Now we spend around £150 a month and that’s with an extra mouth to feed!
It might seem impossible to save money on food shopping, especially if you’re used to eating certain things. It’s actually a lot easier than you think and a few little changes can add up to big savings.
Planning our meals out for the month has really decreased the amount of food we waste and saved us a ton of money. Try and plan meals close together that use similar ingredients so you won’t have to throw anything away. Use your meal plan to write a realistic shopping list and only buy what you need.
Batch cook meals in advance
This really ties in with meal planning. You’ll be able to reduce waste by using fresh ingredients before they go out of date. Plus, you can bulk buy ingredients to them cheaper.
I spend a day batch cooking at the beginning of each month, but if you haven’t got time for that, just make extra each time you cook a meal that freezes well. I’ve found curries, stews, chilli, bolognese, shepherds pie and even Yorkshire puddings freeze really well!
There’s always something healthy and quick to prepare for days I really can’t be bothered to cook. It saves the temptation of buying a takeaway or ready meal too!
Try the downgrade challenge
Instead of always buying branded products, try the supermarket own version and see if you can tell the difference. There’s certain things I will always buy branded because I love the products – I can’t live without Pepsi Max! But we’ve saved about £25 a month just by switching to supermarket own versions on everything else!
Buy in bulk to save big
Certain products are cheaper if you buy in bulk, such as toilet roll and washing powder. If you’ve got the storage space, check out bigger pack sizes and see how much you could save.
Try out discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl
If you really want to save money on food shopping, think about WHERE you’re shopping, not just what you’re buying. I had never been in either of these shops until the beginning of this year, mostly because I was a snob and thought they wouldn’t be any good. I was so wrong! I LOVE Aldi and I’m now a total convert. They have some great products and everything is so cheap! Keep an eye out for super cheap products during their baby events. I recently bought a stair gate for less than half the usual RRP!
Use coupons to cut your monthly spend
Keep an eye for coupons online, in supermarket magazines such as Tesco and Asda, in newspapers and on packaging of products you already buy. Try to use them when products are already on offer to get them mega cheap or even free.
Get discounts and freebies with cashback apps
Cashback apps are a great way to save money on food shopping. The basic idea is that you search their offers, buy one of the products, then claim some or all of the money back. If you’re new to cashback apps, check out my in depth guide here.
Use MySupermarket to compare prices
MySupermarket is a great app that compares prices of products at all the major supermarkets. If I’m buying an expensive product like spirits or washing powder, I always check the app first to find out where it’s cheapest and if there are any offers on.
Buy wonky fruit and veg
Supermarkets like Asda and Tesco have been in the media lately as they’ve started to sell ‘imperfect’ fruit and veg. You can save a fortune buying these products, and who cares what they look like anyway? Especially if you’re just going to chop them up to go in a stew or bolognese anyway. Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll be helping cut down on food waste. And everyone wants to do their bit for the planet right?
Grow Your Own
If you’ve got the room in your garden, you could try growing your own fruit and veg. Even if you’ve got a small garden, you can grow herbs or strawberries from pots on the wall or windowsill. Last year we grew our own chillis. We bought the starter pack for 50p and have enjoyed the chillis for the past year. The kids also loved watching them grow.
Look out for yellow labels
Supermarkets discount products for loads of reasons, and you can make HUGE savings. Products like bread and meat are discounted heavily because the supermarket can’t sell them after their Sell By Date. As long as you freeze them or use them straight away, they’re a great way to make massive savings. I often buy yellow label ingredients to batch cook with.
Sometimes you’ll find yellow label items that still have long sell by ages. I once bought a load of baby food jars for 10p each instead of 65p just because the company was changing their packaging. I also bought a case of beer for £4.50 instead of £15 because the original packaging had been damaged in storage.
Track your spending by ordering online or scanning as you shop
Shopping online or using a handheld scanner in store allows you to see how much you’re spending before you get to the end. That way if you’ve overspent you can decide where to make a cut back before you get to the till!