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Last year’s marmite-gate, when Tesco entered into a row with Unilever over a price hike to the British classic, was probably the moment that got us all talking about rising food costs.
This month, The British Retail Consortium’s chief executive Helen Dickinson OBE said, 'Food prices were on average 16 per cent higher at the beginning of this year compared to last, whilst over the same period the value of the pound fell around 15 per cent. Despite this, February saw an increase of just 0.4 per cent in the prices of food sold in shops; proving retailers’ resilience in managing to largely shield consumers from cost increases.'
But consumers may not be protected indefinitely. That’s why we have put together some top tips to help you save money on your food shop.
Before you even get to the supermarket there are a few habits you can adopt at home to help you spend less on food. For example:
- Don’t waste food. Certain foods can be eaten past their use by date, you just have to cook them the right way. Vegetables that have gone limp can still be used for soups, stews and sauces. If you need inspiration to use up your leftovers, websites like SuperCook offer recipe suggestions. Pay attention to use by dates, so you can prioritise eating the food that’s about to go off, or decide to freeze it instead. Even herbs can be frozen and crumbled into your food at a later date.
- Plan your meals. Impulse buying is a sure way to end up with food you don’t need. Before you shop, plan your meals and make a list of items you need. Don’t forget to check what you already have - so you can avoid buying things twice!
- Look for frugal recipe ideas. If you’re looking for inspiration for meals you can cook on a budget, there are tonnes of recipes online on websites like A Girl Called Jack, Graceful Little Honey Bee and Skint Dad.
- Grow veg boxes. If you regularly use certain herbs and veg you could save money by growing your own. If you don’t have a garden, a simple window box will do.
Food that’s in season is likely to be cheaper because it won’t have been shipped in from some far flung place. It’s also more likely to have lots of flavour because it won’t have been harvested before it’s fully ripe. There are plenty of seasonal food charts online to help you identify what to buy.
Before buying any discounted item, take a moment to realistically consider when and how you will use it. Also, examine the label to check if you’re really getting a bargain. The price could have been cut by as little as a penny!
Also, beware of simply picking the items that are placed at eye level because these are likely to be the ones that are most profitable to the supermarket but may not necessarily be cheaper for you.
These days there are endless exotic foods being touted as healthy superfoods but these often come with a hefty price tag. Their health claims are generally unjustified and are simply marketing ploys. As long as you eat a healthy varied diet, you don’t need to spend a fortune on such foods.
Nowadays, there are a whole host of websites offering discounts you can use such as
Groupon, VoucherCodes, Hot UK Deals and Coupon Shop. We’ve already put together a handy post on making the most of coupons and discount codes.
The price comparison website MySupermarket will also help you identify the cheapest place to do your shopping. All you need to do is type in your shopping list.
If you shop online, you can save money on delivery costs by choosing off-peak slots that are cheaper. Most supermarkets offer a discount for your first online shop if you spend a certain amount. So, it might be worth doing an online shop with each supermarket at least once.
Just because you are familiar with a brand, it doesn’t mean their products are better than own-brand items. Try choosing own brands instead and you may be pleasantly surprised.
This is particularly true of items like cleaning products where the cheaper option may do the job just as well.
Just a little bit of research can help you find deals at specific supermarkets.
Every week, Aldi slashes the prices on six fruit and vegetables. You can find out what deals they are offering on their website. You can also browse special offers online at other supermarkets before deciding what to buy.
ASDA also offers a price guarantee that means if your shop is not 10 per cent cheaper than Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons or Waitrose they will give you the difference as cashback.
If you know you eat plenty of certain items, like rice or porridge oats, then buy bigger packets - as long as the food’s non-perishable. This is great for items like nuts, which are particularly expensive when bought in smaller quantities.