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Top ways to cut your food costs

Now we're spending so much more time at home, you've probably noticed your weekly shop getting more expensive. Here are a few ways you can make your money go further and get more from your weekly food shop. 

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 Buy One Get One Free 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 adds 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 a survey by Linda McCartney, the average person could save around £550 per year by cutting down on meat. 

Bake bread

With loaves costing well over £1, baking your own can save you hundreds of pounds a year, as well as being a good way to try something new at home. You don’t even need a bread maker. Try this easy soda bread recipe to get you started.  

Money saving meal planner

Want to save money on your meals? Check out our seven-day budget meal plan. It's also been calorie-counted and nutritionally analysed for your convenience, so you'll get at least five portions of fruit and veg a day.

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