Food tips

How can I save money on food? Advice in times of cost of living crisis

Food prices have been pushed higher by a mix of Covid, Brexit and the Russian-Ukrainian war with more rises to come

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Making a shopping list can not only save you time, but also money (image: Adobe)

But in addition to being part of the solution, retailers are also part of the problem as they are businesses that need to make a profit.

So, on a tight budget, how can you save on your supermarket grocery store?

NationalWorld has simple solutions in place to help you.

1. Plan ahead and write a shopping list

Planning the food and drinks you will need over a specific period of time will help make budget shopping easier.

By turning that meal plan into a shopping list, you also reduce the risk of impulse purchases — those little items you don’t need but often end up in your shopping cart thanks in part to subtle marketing tactics.

Shopping in supermarket aisles leads to more informed buying decisions (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

When developing a meal plan, it’s worth remembering that hand-cooked and batch meals can be cheaper, especially if they can be frozen.

2. Avoid falling for retailer marketing traps

Stores use subtle marketing practices that attempt to direct you to certain products or parts of the store.

End of aisle shelves are an area where supermarkets often try to tempt shoppers with offers that often look better than they actually are.

For example, the price of a pack of medium-sized tea bags might have been reduced, but larger packs on sale in another part of the store might still offer a cheaper price per bag.

You can only make this kind of comparison if you shop the aisles, where you can see all the options available and make an informed choice.

And even when you’re down an aisle, you should keep in mind that the cheapest deals aren’t usually at eye level.

It’s worth scanning the upper and lower shelves to see if there are better options.

Britain’s CPI rose 0.1% between December and January, meaning goods and services cost 5.5% more than a year ago (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

For example, you will often find own brand or value products on the lower shelves of supermarkets.

They tend to be less expensive than branded items, but closely match them in quality.

3. Join loyalty programs (but shop around)

Loyalty card schemes can save you money, although not all offer immediate savings.

Tesco Clubcard vouchers also appear digitally in the supermarket app or online (Image: Getty Images)

If you do big routine shopping at the retailer, the Clubcard Plus scheme (where you pay £7.99 for two 10% discounts a month) could be economical – but you should check your numbers to be sure before signing up .

Sainsbury’s (Nectar), Morrisons (My Morrisons), Waitrose (MyWaitrose), Lidl and the Co-op also offer loyalty programs which give money towards future stores or specific items.

However, unless you have a good deal or only have one big store in your area, it’s usually more profitable to shop around than to rely on loyalty discounts.

So check online before you buy and hedge your bets by signing up for all programs.

Seasonal foods can be cheaper in supermarkets (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

If you’re shopping, keep these additional considerations in mind:

  • How much will it cost you in fuel or fares to get to another store?
  • Is the alternative store closer to town or downtown? Small urban stores tend to be more expensive than larger out-of-town locations
  • How much longer will shopping elsewhere take? Time is money and your personal time is the most valuable asset there is.

4. Shop and eat seasonally

Retailers tend to discount fresh British produce when in season.

For example, during the summer months, strawberries often have one or two harvest spurts where lots of fruit suddenly becomes available.

When this happens, supermarkets usually stock bulkier packaging and drive prices down.

Rhubarb is currently in season in the UK (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Currently, the following foods are all in season:

  • asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • new potatoes
  • Lettuce, arugula and salad leaves
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb

5. Get fruits and vegetables from the frozen section

The frozen food aisle tends to be an overlooked part of the supermarket.

The only downside to frozen vegetables is that their texture can often be lost during the thawing process.

However, if you batch cook things like curries, chilies, or casseroles, you won’t notice.

6. Head to the food aisle of the world

Another underrated area of ​​the supermarket is the global food aisle.

Here you can find common foods in unfamiliar packaging that are often cheaper.

For example, you can often save big on soy sauce, spices, and packets of rice and lentils.

7. Time your supermarket store

Shopping at unpopular times – especially in the evening – could save you money.

As closing time approaches, supermarkets tend to cut back on fresh produce.

These reductions generally increase over time.

So you could grab tonight’s dinner for a fraction of the price if you do it right.

To have the best chance of success, explore your local store at different times to find out when the yellow stickers start appearing.