If you only do one thing on this list, make it shopping online.
Oh. My GOD. we have saved so much money doing our food shop online. It basically eliminates any temptation to over buget, because you have all the time you like to experiment with taking stuff out of your basket. Even if you’re only a pound over budget you can check back through and delete those cookies. Ta dah! You’re back on track and are winning at life. WELL DONE BOO.
If you can’t shop online, try to find somewhere that has a scan as you shop option. These are good at tracking your spending – also you don’t have to queue at the till – but it’s a bit more of a faff to delete stuff and they keep bonging if you don’t take up an offer, which is irritating.
2. Don’t buy any fresh pre-chopped fruit or veg.
It goes off sooo much more quickly – especially onions, which barely last a day if pre-chopped. I recommend buying frozen or canned fruit and veg – especially frozen mango OMG life changingly delicious, whilst being cheaper and less of a carry on than buying a whole mango.
3. Less meat, more beans.
Get out of the habit of eating meat every day. If you’re dubious that this’ll save you money, think it through. To get beans you have to prep a field (I have no idea what that involves), plant seeds, nurture plants, pick the beans and sell them. To get a cow, you have to go through all of that just to feed the beans (or whatever cows eat, perhaps grass) to the cow, then look after the cow, grow the cow, kill the cow, chop it up, then sell it. Obviously it’s cheaper to just eat the damn beans. And don’t worry about your protein – if you’re eating enough calories and you’re eating fairly healthily, your protein needs will be fulfilled.
4.Check the price/weight.
I find this especially useful when trying to decide between washing powder and similar. It meansthat if two items are on sale you can easily compare the two. Just look at the price label on the shelf and it should say how much you pay per litre or whatever. Often supermarkets try to confuse us by changing the unit of measurement, so take your phone. Often companies put a product on sale, but also scale down the size of the product so instead of being £10 for one litre, its £5 for 500ml – yes it’s cheaper, but you’re getting less product.
5.Don’t buy sale items for the sake of it.
Have a look at my stockpile post to get ideas on what to bulk-buy when it’s on sale. Generally non-perishable items are the best, but MAKE SURE YOU USE IT. Don’t buy 15 tins of sweetcorn if you won’t use it. In fact, the only foodstuffs I bulk buy when they’re on sale are coffee, wine and oats. Otherwise it’s mainly cleaning supplies.
6.No ready meals.
I don’t even care if they’re bad for you, they just make bad economic sense. I may just be a pig, but ready meals do not fill me up, so I end up eating more bread, which is not good for the waist line. If you’re a bad cook, learn to cook pasta and buy the jarred sauces if you must. Add some beans to bulk it out.
7. Set a budget.
Ours is £50 week which includes cleaning supplies and bodycare (toothpaste an shower gel etc), but excludes booze (we get a couple of the £5.50 Tesco prosecco a week, but the money comes from our own pockets rather than the joint account). If we’re under budget we add whatever’s on sale to the stockpile – washing up liquid, coffee or toilet roll. Ah, the rock n roll life that we lead…
8. Stay loyal.
We stick to Tesco 90% of the time so we get about £25 worth of rewards every three months without having to do anything. They usually give about £10 worth of vouchers you can spend on anything, and £15 worth of specific vouchers, such as 50p of almond milk. The vouchers are almost always on things that we buy anyway, so we’re pretty happy with that.
A word on Aldi – we’ve tried shopping there, but they don’t offer any discount on the things we buy. The cheaper produce tends to be biscuits, sweets and frozen things. We don’t really eat much sweet stuff (we’re bread fiends. All. Day. Long) and our freezer is only little, so we don’t get any benefit from shopping there. If you do, go there by all means, but don’t be tempting into buying things you wouldn’t normally just because they’re cheap)
9. Don’t buy things because you feel you should.
Ever buy something because it’s trendy, but never use it? Me too. My thing is sweet potatoes. I actually like sweet potatoes, but I don’t eat them. Why not? Erm, I just don’t. They don’t fit in with the kind of food I eat when I’m working (usually salads and sandwiches – I know I could put them in salads but that would involve putting the oven on, which is fairly wasteful for one person). My boyfriend doesn’t like them so we don’t cook them when we eat together. So I buy a bag, eat perhaps one and the others all go to waste. Nightmare. Nowadays I only buy them if I have a specific plan to use them. Which, predictably, is never.
It tends to be healthy foods that fall into this category, because we feel better when we buy fruit and veg. But if it’s not being eaten, it’s just a waste of money.
10. Brand names
There some products in the UK that you simply have to buy the brand names of. I’m talking Heinz ketchup, Heinz Baked Beans, Branston Pickle, Hellmans’ Mayonnaise. Of these, for us, only the beans are non-negotiable (actually Dave likes Co-op mayo the best), but we hide the other generic brands at the back of the cupboard. There are, however products that we NEVER EVER EVER would consider getting branded versions of. These include
- Tinned tomatoes – we use Tesco value
There are loads more examples, but you get the picture. A branded version is going to taste no different to a generic one. There are, however, things I don’t think you should scrimp on, including:
- Flour – cheap flour is not good for your gut. If you think you’re gluten intolerant, try eating better quality bread and flour, it makes so much difference. If I make white sauce for a lasagne with cheap flour it makes me feel very bloated and uncomfortable even though I literally only use a tablespoon of flour in it. Don’t ask me why cheap pasta doesn’t affect me in the same way, I don’t know. I’m guessing because they use such finely milled flour.
- Washing up liquid – the cheap stuff doesn’t go as far.
- Eggs – I either get eggs from my parent’s hens, or don’t bother. I used to buy organic ones in winter (my parent’s ‘wild’ hens don’t lay in winter) but now I don’t bother. you hear so many horror stories about the conditions they’re kept in it’s not worth it for me.
We also buy branded washing powder, coffee/tea and a few other things, because we buy them on sale when they’re cheaper than their generic counterparts.
I hope this post helped you get to grips with Grocery Shopping for the Financially Underdeveloped. As I said, I think shopping online has saved us the most money, but obviously that might not work for you.
(Ooo, one last thing: I don’t make shopping lists, for no reason other than I never remember to put everything on it. My bad.)