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35 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON GROCERIES
Are you feeling the financial pinch and wondering how to save money on grocery shopping?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the price of groceries and feel your grocery bill is growing out of control? Particularly in the current economic climate, where the cost of food is spiralling upwards at a ridiculous rate.
Have a read of my list of 35 shopping tips on the easiest ways for the average person or family to save money on food and non-food groceries when doing a weekly supermarket shop.
This list includes easy ways to save money on groceries that you can start using right now to save a lot of money.
MONEY SAVING TIPS BASED ON EXPERIENCE
The tips I’ve put together are based on my experience of making savings on food shopping over the years.
I first started looking at ways to make savings when I went on maternity leave and wanted to prolong the amount of time I could stay at home without working.
It was the first time I’d really thought about keeping to a budget, and I learned a lot during those early months of parenthood.
It’s amazing the savings you can make on grocery shopping when you know how.
Finding new ways to save money becomes quite addictive once you start seeing the savings you are making.
So, if you’re ready to start making some savings, dive into my list of tips on how to save money on groceries.
Read the tips and see which tips you are going to implement right now.
35 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR GROCERY SHOPPING
1. SET YOURSELF A BUDGET AND WORK BACKWARDS
It is well worth setting yourself a weekly or monthly grocery budget if you really want to make sure you save as much money as possible. Ring-fence a food budget within the overall budget.
Work out how much you can ideally afford to spend, and then tailor your shopping list to ensure you don’t exceed your maximum budget.
2. MEAL PLAN AHEAD OF MAKING YOUR SHOPPING LIST
I am a big fan of taking the time to plan meals in advance. It is actually a really quick job to do each week once you’ve got a system set up and are in the habit of doing it on a weekly basis.
Meal planning is a great way to ensure everyone in your family is eating a healthy well balanced diet.
It is a great way to make sure you make the most out of the ingredients you buy. I keep a running list of meal ideas that I refer to for meal planning each week.
Having a meal plan to stick to also means there is less chance of emergency supermarket dashes.
Emergency supermarket dashes are always costly. Who can ever go in and just buy what they dashed in for?! It always ends up costing you more.
And finally, if you get really clever with your meal planning you can cook up big batches that use up all the fresh ingredients you’ve bought. Keep one batch for eating straight away and freeze the other.
3. MAKE A GROCERY LIST AND ONLY BUY WHAT YOU NEED
Now, you all know I love a list 😉
But shopping lists do actually save you money. I promise.
Because writing out a shopping list is essentially writing out a shopping planner and planning ahead is always a sure fire way to make sure you get the outcome you desire.
Creating a shopping list will help you make sure you don’t run out of your grocery essentials, which means you won’t waste money panic buying them.
A list also means you can plan which ingredients go together, so that when you buy the ingredients for one meal, you can work out what else you could use the ingredients for.
That way you will avoid unused vegetables slowly going mouldy in the bottom of the fridge.
In short, a list will help you avoid wasting money on unnecessary groceries – as long as you stick to the list!
Another plus point of a grocery shopping list is that it makes it easier to do price comparisons.
Take a look at my essential grocery shopping list for more tips on how to put together a really useful shopping list and you can also download a free grocery shopping list template there.
4. KNOW YOUR UNIT PRICES
This is one of the most powerful money saving tips I can give you. If you’re going to find the best-priced product, you MUST check the unit price rather than just look at the product price.
It can be easy to think that either the cheapest-priced product is the least expensive or that buying the biggest size is the most cost-efficient.
Most supermarkets include the unit price on-shelf item label (or underneath the product description in the case of online supermarkets).
Supermarkets do try and make it harder to work out the best value product by mixing up their unit pricing.
So they will have grammes (g) for one product and kilogrammes (kg) for another. Or there will be one item shown as a whole unit price and another by weight.
But on the whole, checking the unit price is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best value.
See the image below of washing powder for sale on Ocado for a great example.
Although the Fairy Washing Powder has the highest price, it is actually the best value. It works out at £3.08 per kg. The next cheapest is the Persil Washing Powder at £3.54 per kg.
Consumer champion site Which! has started an Affordable Food campaign to bring about more supermarket price transparency through clearer pricing, amongst other things. You can sign the Affordable Food petition here.
Knowing the average unit prices for groceries also helps you discern whether a sale or discount price is actually a good bargain.
5. CHECK WHICH? FOR ITS MONTHLY SUPERMARKET PRICE COMPARISON REPORT
And whilst I am on the subject of Which? Check the Which? monthly supermarket price comparison report if you really want to keep up with the best price for groceries and the best deals.
6. BULK BUY CAREFULLY
Most of the time buying in bulk will save you money. It can be a great way to keep stocked up on pantry staples. Whether that means buying the largest size packet or box or something or buying a bundle or multi-pack.
But this isn’t always the case. Make sure that buying bulk items or large quantities always works out in your favour by using the following tips:
- Check the unit price to double-check that buying the largest size actually does work out cheaper than buying a smaller quantity. I have noticed that sometimes the largest washing powder box isn’t actually the most cost-effective one to buy
- Double-check to see whether smaller size packets or boxes are on offer and if this makes them cheaper than the larger bulk size
- You won’t make a saving if you get through the bulk purchase just as quickly as if you’d bought a smaller size or amount
- Don’t get carried away with bulk buys. Make sure you will actually be able to use all of a bulk buy before the use-by date. There is no point bulk buying food that you either end up eating (because you can’t freeze it) just to beat the use-by date
- It is always worth shopping around for the best bulk buy deals rather than relying on your regular supermarket. This can be particularly effective with non-food grocery staples like toilet rolls, kitchen rolls and basic cleaning products. It can also work well for pet food. Keep scrolling for details of how you can quickly compare supermarket prices with a great app
7. SHOP OFFERS, BOGOFS AND SALES SMARTLY
It is always worth looking for special offers, such as discounts, buy-one-get-one-free deals (BOGOF) and other offers across your whole shopping list.
Pay particular attention to deals on expensive items such as laundry detergent and dishwasher tablets.
You need to be prepared to be flexible on the brand you buy, but if you are a savvy offer shopper you can find a good special offer on one or other brand every time you shop.
Don’t be tempted to buy stuff you wouldn’t normally buy and therefore won’t actually get round to eating or using.
Grocery prices fluctuate all the time, from day to day and week to week. Stock up whenever you spot items you use regularly for sale at a discounted price. This works particularly well for things like dishwasher tablets, toothpaste and cleaning products.
8. BUY LOOSE RATHER THAN PREPACKED
Whilst bulk buying can work really well for some items, buying in a more precise way can work well for others.
It’s amazing how much money you can save by choosing exactly the quantity of fruit and vegetables you want at the supermarket rather than buying prepackaged.
This works particularly well for things like ginger root, lemons, chillies, or less basic fruit and vegetables. The types of things you buy for a specific recipe and then don’t need for anything else.
9. EMBRACE ONLINE SHOPPING
Doing your grocery shopping online can save you money.
In my experience, it is easier to avoid impulse purchases when shopping online. It is also easier to stick to your budget, as you can see the trolley total as you shop.
Plus, it is also easier to edit your shop or ‘put stuff back’ if your trolley total is more than you want to spend.
I also find there are a few other major benefits to online supermarket shopping:
- Much easier to find offers
- Much easier to compare unit prices
- Less chance of being tempted by small impulse purchases at the checkout
- Takes less time than going to a supermarket for a weekly shop – this is especially beneficial if you have young kids
- Save money on fuel for the car by avoiding a trip to the supermarket
I do understand that online supermarket shopping doesn’t work for everyone.
However, I find it way more convenient and cost effective than going to the supermarket. So much so that I mention it in my working mum survival tips.
Here are a few top tips to help you save money by supermarket shopping online:
- Check to see if there is a delivery pass you can buy that works out cheaper than paying for each delivery
- Check when the cheapest delivery slots are and if you can work your weekly shop around them
- If your supermarket has a loyalty card make sure to link it to your online account
- Check to see if you can opt to go bagless to avoid the bag charge
- Make sure to check substitutions and refuse them if they aren’t suitable – there’s no point accepting something that you won’t use
- Do claim if a product is damaged or not up to standard, most online supermarkets make this really easy and I’ve never been refused a refund
10. SHOP AT MAIN BRANCHES
You will almost always pay more for items at city-centre, petrol station and express supermarket branches than you will at main branches and superstores.
So always aim to shop at main branches, superstores or online. Once you get into the habit of meal planning and writing a shopping list you will find yourself less likely to need to do a supermarket dash to a smaller branch.
11. NEVER SHOP WHEN HUNGRY!!!!
Always have a nice balanced blood sugar level when you head to the supermarket.
This might sometimes be easier said than done when you have to rush to get there from work or early on a Saturday morning.
But if you do find yourself shopping on an empty stomach, try to employ mindfulness, be aware that you are hungry, focus on shopping your list rather than your cravings, and avoid impulse buys at all costs!!
12. BEAT THE SUPERMARKET PSYCHOLOGY TRICKS
Supermarkets use all sorts of tricks to get us to part with our cash once we are in their clutches.
They do everything from piping the smell of fresh bread to playing seasonal music and craftily placing products where we find it hardest to resist them.
Steer away of succumbing to these psychological tricks by going into that store with a full stomach, a shopping list and a meal plan!! Or failing that, an iron resolve!
13. AVOID IMPULSE PURCHASING AT THE TILL
If you do shop in an actual supermarket make sure to avoid making impulse purchases at the checkout.
This may well mean having to use the word NO very firmly if you have your kids with you.
14. USE A SUPERMARKET PRICE COMPARISON APP
There are several supermarket money-saving apps that offer price comparison. To be frank I don’t think any of them are perfect.
In my opinion, the best is Trolley. This comparison app (iOS/Android and it’s also a website) lets you benchmark the price of products across all the major supermarkets.
One drawback I’ve noticed from using it is that it only really works on big name brands. Or brands that are stocked in several of the big supermarkets. Otherwise it can be hard to discern which product is the best value.
Trolley currently compares prices across most of the major supermarkets, including Aldi, Asda, Co-Op, Iceland, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Waitrose.
It also allows you to compare prices across Boots, B&M, Poundland, Savers, Superdrug and Wilko. It is also working on adding Amazon, Lidl and Farmfoods. No word on whether it will include Marks and Spencer food.
The prices on Trolley are online prices, but these don’t tend to vary much from in-store prices, so it is worth checking.
I have set up a basic shopping list of my weekly essentials and I’ve opted in to price drop alerts on these products.
15. USE CASH BACK SUPERMARKET APPS
Cashback supermarket apps are actually for getting money back after you’ve spent it. I guess the clue is in the name!
So they won’t save you money up front, but you can claim money back through them.
One of the most popular supermarket cash back apps is Shopmium. Once you download the app it showcases all the current offers on products. You can search by supermarket or just by going through all the offers.
Once you’ve done a supermarket shop you can submit your receipt to the app and you will receive cash back on any qualifying purchases.
I’ve found this brilliant video from Uk money saving expert, Andy Webb, that gives a brilliant overview of the top UK supermarket cashback apps.
16. PAY BY CASHBACK CREDIT CARD
If you have a cashback credit card make sure to use it to pay for your weekly grocery shop.
Just make sure to pay the card off in full each month so you don’t incur interest and negate the cashback!
17. SIGN UP TO SUPERMARKET REWARD PROGRAMMES
I think we’re all savvy enough to know that you don’t get anything for nothing!
The point of reward programmes is to keep us shopping with the store that has the programme.
That said, the best rule of thumb is to sign up to the reward programmes and make sure to use them when we shop. But not to choose where to shop based on the loyalty programmes we have.
The other aspect of loyalty programmes is that the data is mined to target promotions and discounts at us.
If you are trying to save money, you should ignore promotions unless the product is something you will use. But do keep an eye out for coupons, vouchers and discount codes.
18. CONSIDER A WHOLESALE MEMBERSHIP
The USP of wholesale clubs is that they sell food in bulk at low costs per unit than mainstream retailers. This isn’t always the case, so it is worth knowing those unit prices!
Consider signing up for a membership if you have plenty of room to store large amounts of food or non-food groceries.
19. TRY SHOPPING IN A DIFFERENT AISLE
Some types of food items can be found at different prices within the same supermarket.
For example, nuts and seeds can be found in the snack, whole foods, and cooking ingredients aisles.
Another example is cotton wool, which can be found in the beauty and baby areas, often at different prices.
So it is always worth checking along every aisle as you walk around the supermarket.
20. LOOK HIGH AND LOW
Another well-known trick supermarkets use is placing the product they want you to buy at eye level.
So it pays always to check the top shelves and bottom shelves to make sure you are buying the best value product.
21. CHOOSE OWN-LABEL OVER BIG NAME BRANDS
Now this can be hit and miss because sometimes you just can’t beat the taste or quality of a big name brand.
So it is worth giving own label brands a try or finding reviews for the best own label products and then swapping out the big brand names for own label items accordingly.
22. SWITCH FROM PREMIUM OWN LABEL TO BASIC OR VALUE LABELS
Most supermarkets have at least a premium range and a basic range. Switch down from the most expensive premium label to the basic or value label to make some good savings on your weekly shop.
23. YOUR FREEZER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
A family sized freezer is your money saving secret weapon. There are several ways in which making good use of your freezer will help you save money. Here is a list of a few of the best:
23A. BUY FROZEN FOOD
Now, if you really want to know how to save money on groceries, buying frozen vegetables, fruit and meat is a great way to save money.
This is in part because the cost of frozen food is cheaper and in part because you are less likely to waste it.
Not only do you ensure that your vegetables won’t go off, there is actually science to say that you get better nutritional value from frozen vegetables than you do from fresh vegetables.
Frozen food is frozen straight away. This means that fruit, vegetables and meat retain all their nutritional value.
Whereas fresh food can be days old by the time it arrives in your kitchen. Plus some ‘fresh’ food counters, like the fish counter, often stock food that was previously frozen.
23B. MAKE THE MOST OF YELLOW LABEL DISCOUNTS BY FREEZING
Buy yellow label discounted fresh food and freeze it straight away to beat the use-by dates.
23C. BUY FRESH MEAT, FRUIT AND VEGETABLES AND FREEZE THEM
Sometimes you need to buy fresh vegetables because you can’t get them frozen. So buy them and then cut them up and freeze them. Ditto for fruit.
You can also buy meat and fish and pop it in the freezer. What I tend to do is meal plan, write my shopping list, buy the best value meat I can find. I divide it up and freeze down whatever I don’t need straight away.
They key to doing this well is to use really good freezer containers.
I really like the Igluu range of glass food containers, because I much prefer microwave defrosting food in a glass container over a plastic one. This set of five Igluu food containers comes with an extra lid.
23D. FREEZE MILK, BREAD, BUTTER, EGGS AND JUICE
I always freeze my sliced bread on the day I buy it.
We only ever have bread as toast in our household, so it’s just as easy to pull a couple of slices from the freezer as pulling them from a breadbin and it means that the bread lasts a lot longer, so therefore we always eat every single slice.
I know most people know you can freeze bread, but I bet there are lots of you out there who don’t realise that a whole bunch of other food items freeze really well.
For example, did you know you can freeze dairy produce? I didn’t until a few years back. These days we buy enough milk for the week and then freeze whatever we don’t need immediately on the day we buy it.
I’ve put together a list of other food items you might not realise you can freeze.
- Butter – you can even grate butter from frozen into recipes
- Fruit juice
- Grated cheese
- Flour – you can use it straight from the freezer
- Nuts – pop them in an airtight container
- Cooked pasta
- Eggs – don’t freeze eggs in their shells, crack them into something like a silicon ice-cube tray for large ice cubes
24. STOP BUYING PRE-PREPARED FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Ready prepared fresh fruit and vegetables might be convenient, but they are are also really expensive.
The same goes for boil-in-the-bag rice and other prepared food. You are essentially paying for someone else to prepare them for you.
There are two ways to tackle this if you really want make sure you have time-saving ingredients to hand.
The first is to buy prepared frozen food. The second is to bulk buy, prepare and freeze fruit and vegetables once a month. Then you can grab them when you need them in the week.
25. ORGANISE YOUR FRIDGE
Organising your fridge in order of freshness is a great way to ensure you don’t waste food. This means you won’t get caught out by finding you need to restock because something is past its use-by date.
It also means you are getting maximum value from everything you buy. Plus it’s better for the environment. It’s a total win!
I simply check the use-by date on products as I decant them into the fridge and ensure that those needing eating sooner are at the top of piles or at the front of shelves.
26. DON’T THROW FOOD OUT JUST BECAUSE IT IS PAST ITS BEST BEFORE DATE
I do a ‘sniff and see’ check before I discard anything that is past its best before date. Best before dates are guides, they aren’t definitive.
Now clearly you have to use both common sense and a spot of googling to make sure that this is safe.
But you can often find that food is perfectly edible past its best-before date.
I learnt recently that as long as eggs aren’t spoiled,, you can use them way past their best-before date.
It is also worth knowing the difference between the different date guides on food.
- A sell-by date is actually more for the store’s information than the consumers. That said, I do tend to buy the produce with the longest time ahead of the sell-by date.
- A best-before date is a guide. This is the date that it is worth doing a ‘sniff and see’ check on before discarding it.
- A use-by date is pretty definitive and not really worth chancing. You can check the government’s guidance on best before and use by dates.
For years I mistakenly thought that you shouldn’t reheat rice. However, I recently read about how to reheat fried rice, and it dawned on me that this is another great way to save money, as we always have rice left over.
If you are really keen to not waste anything it is well worth taking a look at the Eat This website for a guide to food you can safely eat after its expiration date.
27. EAT SEASONALLY AND LOCALLY
Whilst it may be lovely to eat strawberries at Christmas it isn’t going to be great for your wallet or the environment for that matter.
If you want to save money and also do what is best for the environment then stick to two rules. Firstly, eat seasonally. Secondly, eat locally grown produce wherever possible.
28. SWAP MEAT FOR VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN ALTERNATIVES
It isn’t always true that prepared vegetarian or vegan food works out cheaper than meat products.
However, swapping out costly meat based meals for cheaper vegetarian alternatives could save you some money each week.
For example, macaroni cheese is a favourite in our house and works out cheaper than making spaghetti bolognaise. We’re also fans of a simple vegetable sauce over pasta.
29. CHOOSE CHEAPER CUTS OF MEAT
Whilst swapping meat recipes for vegetarian and vegan recipes are a great way to cut costs, if you’re a meat eater you will want to eat meat!
There are two easy ways to spend less on meat. These are both particularly good ways to still be able to afford to buy organic produce. The first is to use less of it. This doesn’t have to mean swapping a meat dish for a vegetarian option.
So for example, make a spaghetti bolognaise sauce, but use less mince meat and bulk out with vegetables.
The other way to make great savings on meat is to opt for cheaper cuts of meat. So for example:
- Cheaper beef cuts: Bavette, skirt, brisket and shin
- Cheaper cuts of lamb: Shoulder, scrag, middle neck, chump
- Cheaper cuts of pork: Spare ribs, chump, belly
- Cheaper cuts of chicken: Wings, thighs, drumsticks – bone in and skin on is always cheaper
30. DITCH READY MEALS AND COOK FRESH FOOD INSTEAD
I know, I know, we are all time-poor and sometimes quite frankly we just don’t have the energy or the will to prepare a freshly cooked meal.
But, if you really do want to save money, you really have to leave the ready-meals on the shelf.
If you meal plan you can make sure you have a few good ingredients to hand that can be used for at least two recipes each week.
You can also bulk cook food and freeze portions of what you make, so you only have to prepare and cook it once. It’s like creating your own ready-meals!
It’s really useful to have good quality good storage containers for creating your ready-meals. I really like the Igluu lasagna storage dish because you can cook in it, let the food cool, stick it in the freezer.
Then when you want a ‘ready meal’ you get it out of the freezer and stick it in the oven.
Grab one of these Igluu lasagne containers and get cooking your own ready-meals.
31. INVEST IN A SLOW COOKER OR MULTICOOKER
Now this money-saving tip does involve an up front investment, but it is a great way to save money on grocery shopping over the long-term.
The beauty of slow cookers is that you can use them to cook cheaper cuts of meat and you can also leave them cooking all day.
This means you don’t have to worry about cooking when you get home and then find you’re too tired to prepare a meal.
As an added bonus, slow cookers also use far less energy than using a hob or oven, so given the steep rise in the cost of gas and electricity, you will also save money on your utility bill.
I have an Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Smart Cooker and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. It makes the best fluffy rice amongst other things and to-die-for melt in your mouth chicken or beef stews.
I have the 5.7 litre size and it is more than big enough for a family of four and even for using to cook for a few guests as well. I can highly recommend it as one of the greatest time-saving, money-saving kitchen gadgets you will ever buy.
32. SHOP IN THE EVENING FOR THE CHANCE TO BAG SOME BARGAINS
Perishable items getting close to their sell-by date are often discounted in the early evening. So this is a great time to do a supermarket shop.
Take advantage by snapping up the bargains and then freezing them as soon as you get home.
33. REMEMBER YOUR SHOPPING BAGS
This is one of those ‘every penny counts’ tips!
How many times do you find yourself buying yet another Bag For Life reusable bag?! How many Bag For Life bags do you have nestling at home where they will never again see the light of day?
Find a way to remember your bags everytime you go shopping. This way you will save yourself a small fortune on buying new ones, be they regular 10p ones or the shame-averting Bag For Life ones.
I always have a foldaway bag in my handbag. I love these KIND BAGS
34. CUT DOWN ON HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Of course there is more than food and drink to buy at the supermarket and these non-food groceries like household items can easily increase the total cost of your weekly supermarket shop.
Luckily there is one very easy way to cut the cost of cleaning products and that is to stop buying them.
Well ok, you will need to buy some. I recommend bamboo cloths. Bamboo cloths are naturally both antibacterial and anti-fungal.
Use them with just warm water or warm water and a little vinegar or washing up liquid to clean most kitchen and bathroom surfaces hygienically. It will cost you a fraction of the cost of buying expensive cleaning products.
Bamboo cloths also replace kitchen roll in lots of instances, which means you won’t need to buy nearly as much kitchen roll.
I really like the Eco Egg Bamboo Cloths, I bought a roll of them a couple of years ago and it’s still going.
The cloths can be washed in the washing machine, they do shrink up a little, but are still useable many times over. You can buy a roll of 20 Eco Egg Bamboo Cloths and they will keep you going for ages.
35. BE SAVVY BUYING TOILET ROLL AND KITCHEN ROLL
Whilst it would be fair to assume that buying better quality toilet paper and kitchen roll means you will use less of it, this isn’t always the most cost effective way to do things.
Premium toilet paper brands charge premium prices. The best way to buy toilet roll cost-effectively is to go for two-ply own brand paper.
Another way to cut to the cost of toilet paper and kitchen roll is to avoid buying it at the supermarket.
Yes, that’s right! It can work out cheaper to bulk buy from a wholesale club or Amazon. Amazon works out particularly cost-effective if you sign up for Subscribe & Save, which is exactly what I have done.
Well that’s my list of the best ways to save money on groceries. I hope these tips help you to avoid paying higher prices, always find the lower price
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Hello, I’m Luci, founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, I have combined my experience as a mum, journalist and shopping editor to create useful guides and lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Plus I create beautiful party printables, from invites to party games. Read more.