Hello and welcome to my latest post, how to save money at the supermarket! I have written quite a few posts now about budgeting and saving (check them out if you haven’t already!) and I have been wanting to write about this one for a while! Any of my friends will tell you that I have a bit of an obsession with supermarkets and consumer trends. I don’t know why. I just do. When we moved to the Cotswolds last Christmas, the thing I hate the most is the lack of supermarkets- and what supermarkets we do have- are small and rubbish… Rant over, on with the post! Some of these things may seem a bit obvious but hopefully there will be some tips that you hadn’t thought of as well!
Before I begin, no comments please about the fact this is a money saving post and my most frequented supermarkets are Waitrose and Sainsburys. I know there are also less expensive supermarkets which I do also visit, these are just my main two and I genuinely believe if you follow these steps you will save a lot of money even in what people believe to be ‘more expensive’ supermarkets.
I am not an obsessive meal planner. I dont’ sit down and write what we’re going to have for tea every night for the next couple of weeks, but I do take in to account- how much are we going to be at home, do we have events coming up or are we away for the weekend? I also know now what sort of meals and how much feeds us. I also store my food well so that it lasts for minimum wastage- I am going to do another blog post about this! When I first started living with my bf the shop was a bit hit and miss so I planned a bit more to avoid wastage and now I know roughly where I’m at with what to buy.
Write a list
This one may seem a bit old hat, but there’s nothing better than a list. I love a list and as much as I love pen and paper I am a big fan of the Wunderlist App (not a typo). It’s a free app where you can have lots of lists on the go all at once, I keep a constant list for groceries and then when we run out of something at home I just add it to the list. Super handy and as you have your phone with you all the time it’s easy just to add things to the list. Give it a try, really good for not forgetting stuff!
I’ve written before about budgeting your house costs and you really can do this for your food shop as well. Have a look at what you’re spending and how much you can afford. We are a family of two (and Nigel the dog) and we can live on £50 worth of groceries per week- we don’t always take lunch from home though so this isn’t 3 meals a day for 7 days.
Don’t go to the supermarket
What? I hear you say- that makes no sense! What I mean by this is – do it online! There are so many benefits to online supermarket shopping- the biggest one is that you don’t have to go to the supermarket! This is good because doing a big shop can be a bit of a mission. I like to pop in for ‘bits’ but I never do my main shop in real life. I always buy it online. If you do it online you are more likely to stick to your list and only buy what you actually need! Also- there are tons of vouchers out there for internet food shops, if you’re new to the game, have a go at all the supermarkets and do the rounds- their opening offers vary, but they are always there. Also- it’s much easier to stick to your budget as you can put stuff in and take it out of your basket easily and there is a running counter of what you have spent.
What I tend to do is do around a £100 – £150 shop which will last 2 – 3 weeks apart from fresh things like milk and vege which I think pick up on a quick pop to the shops. By spending this much online you tend to get free delivery at almost all of them and many vouchers kick in at + £100 (see vouchers below).
ALSO- you can shop from your previous shop, so if like me you buy similar products each time this is super quick!
If you do go to the supermarket…
If you like to go or it just ends up that you have to go, then follow these tips:
- Stick to your list!
- Don’t be tempted by treats or expensive things in convenient places, like near the till
- The cheapest products are not usually in your eye line- look down low for bargains / own brand
- Stick to your budget – try and add up in your head as you’re going around the store
- Don’t buy offers unless they’re on your list- think 3 for 2 – it’s only cheap if you needed them in the first place! BUT if something similar to what you’re buying is on offer- buy it!
- Take your own carrier bags!! The bag tax is my biggest bug bear!!!
Buy own brand
This goes back a bit to what I was saying earlier about which supermarket you shop in you can shop cheaply if you mainly stick to own brand products. I believe the quality of the own brand products varies. ALTHOUGH- a lot of difference between own brand products is in the detail not the actual source. For example (this is a true story) – I have visited a farm in Lincolnshire where they were harvesting and packaging broccoli. Waitrose and Sainsburys broccoli was coming straight out of the field and shrink wrapped for sale. The same field. The only difference was that Waitrose wanted a heavier weight / larger product- and of course the labelling was different…
Vouchers and Loyalty Schemes
I am all over this. I am a member of all the loyalty card schemes- I have a bunch of fobs on my key ring which is super handy when you go to pay AND I have downsized from a proper purse / wallet to a card holder so the new key fob trend has worked out well as I have managed to ditch a lot of cards! The different loyalty cards work differently but essentially they all give you money off in some way or voucher for different things.
Now- here is where it gets interesting with the algorithms- if you do your internet shopping with a supermarket and you’ve used up your opening offers and you keep shopping there you won’t get the good vouchers. If you haven’t shopped there for a while then they send you some tempting ones to lure you back! What I do is do 2 or 3 orders in a row between a couple of supermarkets and then usually one will feel sad you don’t shop there any more and send you vouchers so you switch back! Here are a few examples of shops I’ve done this year and the discounts I’ve got my spacing them out.
25th May – Waitrose – Basket – £210.91
Offers – £27.51 – Voucher – £18 – Saving £45.11
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22nd July – Waitrose – Basket- £206.03
Offers- £24.88 – Voucher – £18.00 – Saving £42.31
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14th August – Sainsburys – Basket £114.70
Voucher – £15 – Saving £15
I am going to do a shop this week to arrive next Monday- that’s when we will have no food! lol. The voucher I will be using is a Waitrose £21 off £140. Which I think is a pretty good deal! To make these discounts a good deal you have to buy these high value shops carefully so that you don’t just buy loads that is then wasted. I’ll talk more about this in my post next week about storing food!
I have mentioned this earlier but – don’t buy offers unless they’re on your list- think 3 for 2 – it’s only cheap if you needed them in the first place! BUT if something similar to what you’re buying is on offer- buy it!
If I’m honest I don’t usually go this far with my money saving unless a coupon lands in my lap for something I already buy. That’s a tip there- if its’ not something you usually buy, don’t buy it just because you have a coupon! If you’re interested in coupons have a look on the Money Saving Expert page as they have ALL the coupons!
Whilst I don’t suggest that credit cards are always the way to save money (in some cases they can be the worst thing if you are watching the pennies!) if you are sensible they can be super handy. I have two credit cards, a Sainsburys one and a John Lewis / Waitrose one. For all spends on both you get points. With Sainsburys these are Nectar points and are redeemable in lots of places. With JL / Waitrose you get vouchers sent to you every quarter based on your spends. I usually get about £25 per quarter and I either spend them back on food or save them for gifts or just spend them on myself! I know people who save them for Christmas shopping etc… which is also a good idea. These cards also usually come with good introductory offers, but these change from time to time. I use my different cards at the corresponding shops for maximum points! Other supermarkets do them as well, like Tescos! if you’re a frequent shopper at a certain store it may be worth looking in to getting a corresponding card.
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