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Top ways to cut your food costs

Great news. Food prices are going to continue to fall, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), but many of us will hardly notice the difference because our wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. Coupled with recent cuts to student grants, benefits, pensions and low returns on savings, we’ll still need to stretch our money as far as we can. Here are a few ways you can make your money go further…

Plan, plan, plan

  • Check the fridge and cupboards before heading out and write a list of what you need – and stick to it. If temptation often gets the better of you, try taking cash and leave your cards at home, that way you can only spend what you’ve got in your purse.
  • Try not to be drawn into BOGOF or 3 for 2 offers unless you know you’ll get through and need all the items. Steer clear of offers on products you wouldn’t usually buy.
  • Use a basket or a small trolley in the supermarket if you are only doing a few days or the week's shopping, so that you can’t overfill it and buy more than you intended.
  • Some stores offer you a ‘scan as you shop’ service. This lets you scan what you buy before you get to the checkout. It tots up what you’ve bought, so you can keep track of what you’re spending. If you change your mind about a product or you’ve gone over your budget, you can simply delete the items and put them back – good news for impulsive shoppers. If your store doesn’t offer this, take a calculator with you or use the one on your phone.
  • Shop solo so you can think clearly and avoid pester power from the kids.

Money saving meal planner

Want to save money on your meals? Check out our seven-day budget dinnner planner. All the recipes can be found in ourrecipe finder. Meals start at 44p per portion.

Download yourmenu planner(PDF 855,KB)

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Shop around

  • Many people save money by going to several different shops or markets to get what they need. Use comparison websites to help you compare prices before you even leave the house.
  • To save on petrol costs, order your shop online and make the most of free or cheap delivery slots often offered by supermarkets. This could save you even more money as you can keep track of your spending as you shop and won’t get a shock at the checkout.
  • Investigate whether using cashback sites might help you save money – some sites give you cash back for your shopping.
  • Buying in bulk isn’t always the cheapest option, so get label savvy and compare prices per 1kg/100g as well as between brands – this way you won’t get caught out.
  • If you can time your shopping trip to just before the stores close, you can often get reduced goods nearing their sell-by date. Often these items can be frozen, so you can use them when it suits you.

Go coupon crazy

  • Look out for coupons from supermarket flyers – if there’s an offer for an item you need, great. But don’t fall into the trap of simply buying something just because it’s on offer. By signing up to loyalty schemes, supermarkets can track your spending and target which coupons to send you which can help you save money. Keep an eye out for coupons in the newspaper or online, too.
  • Check out the manufacturers of your favourite products to see if they have any deals you can sign up for, but make sure you don’t get bombarded with unwanted junk mail or contacted by other parties.
  • Be sure to make the most of coupons and cashback receipts given to you by stores at the end of a shop. If you’ve got time, you could try separating out your shop to see if you are given any coupons that you could use for the rest of the shop.
  • Scan the internet for vouchers – if you shop online look out for money-off vouchers – often you can get £10 or more off your first shop. Spread this over several supermarkets, and you can save a substantial amount of money.

Make Mondays meat free

  • Persuade all the family to give up meat on Mondays. Alternatively, try having a more healthy option, like fish, instead.
  • For health reasons, it’s recommended adults try not to eat more than 70g of red and processed meat a day (that’s 2 slices of roast meat, 3 grilled sausages, or 3 rashers of bacon). If you can, try to avoid processed meat, such as ham, as much as possible.
  • Add pulses to make meaty dishes stretch further, for example in lasagne, bolognese and stews.
  • According to the latest figures from the ONS, halving your intake of meat could save you around £265 a year.

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Bake bread

With loaves costing well over £1, baking your own can save you hundreds of pounds a year. You don’t even need a bread maker. Try this easysoda bread recipe to get you started.  

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