The chances are, food shopping accounts for a large chunk of your household spending. Of course, everyone has to eat – but right now you might be shelling out much more than you need to on groceries. The good news is, by paying attention to the following simple tips, you may be able to get to grips with your food shop and significantly lower your bills.

Plan your meals – and make a list

Even if lists aren’t normally your thing, it pays to get into the habit of noting down your must-haves before you go shopping. In fact, research carried out by the Money Advice Service found that 60 per cent of people who use shopping lists at the supermarket say it saves them money. Following a list can stop you from getting tempted by products you don’t need. It also means you’re less likely to forget items, helping you to avoid emergency takeaways or trips to smaller, more expensive shops.

When you’re making your list, make sure you plan for all your meals – and incorporate the ingredients you already have. This means taking a look through your cupboards and fridge so that you don’t accidentally double up.

Don’t shop hungry

We’ve all done it – shopped hungry and ended up making impulse purchases. The fact is, browsing the shelves on an empty stomach is a recipe for spending much more than you need to. So, make sure you time your shopping trips so that you’re not likely to be led astray by your food cravings.

Compare retailers

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to buying groceries. You might have been going to the same one or two supermarkets for years without considering if there are cheaper alternatives. A Which? study from 2018 found nearly a £15 price difference between the cheapest and most expensive supermarkets for a basket of branded products, so it really is worth shopping around.

It’s now easy to compare the cost of major retailers online using specialist comparison sites. You can input your typical grocery shop and see how much it would set you back across a variety of stores.

Also, it might take a little longer, but think about visiting different shops to buy different items. For example, perhaps you could save money by going to a budget retailer for your staples and then another shop for your extras. Investigate your local grocers and market stalls too. These retailers are often a cheap place to stock up on fruit and veg.

Try switching away from big brands

Switching from the big brands to cheaper alternatives could also save you money. With some products, you might find you can hardly tell the difference. And according to mySupermarket, you could save around 30 per cent on your grocery shop by dropping a brand level on everything you buy.

Beware misleading special offers

Everyone loves to bag a bargain, but special offers are not always what they seem. Research carried out by Which? has revealed that retailers sometimes promote products as being on special offer when in fact they are more expensive than their non-sale equivalents. One tactic was to raise rather than lower the per item price of products in multi-buy offers. So, make sure you look into any deals carefully to see if they really make financial sense.

‘Buy one, get one free’ offers can be a good way to save money, but don’t be enticed into buying things you wouldn’t otherwise get. Also, bear in mind that these offers tend to be best for items that won’t go off rather than fresh products that you have to consume quickly.

Search for vouchers

Retailers are always looking for ways to attract new customers, and one of the ways they do this is by offering vouchers. For example, a supermarket might offer £15 off a £50 spend. A quick online search could give you access to a range of vouchers and free codes to help you bring your food bill down.

Cut your food waste

Each year, households in the UK collectively throw away millions of tonnes of food. Figures provided by recycling advisory body WRAP suggest that households across the country are producing around seven million tonnes of food waste a year. As well as having a negative impact on the environment, chucking food away is bad for your household budget.

There are a number of things you can do to minimise waste. For example, keep an eye on expiration dates and try to use or freeze your leftovers. Awareness raising initiative Love Food Hate Waste (which is run by the Waste and Resources Action Programme charity) suggests that these measures alone could save the average family £60 a month. Make sure you know the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates too. Whereas you should avoid products that have gone beyond their use by dates, food that’s past its best before date could still be perfectly OK to eat.

Even making seemingly small changes to your shopping habits could result in a big reduction to your grocery bills – so it’s well worth putting these tips into practice.

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