Food prices are rising and supermarkets are devilish in their ways of getting us to part with our cash but with a bit of nous and imagination, it’s possible to save money on food without going hungry.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the average British household spends £56.80 per week on food, the fourth biggest item of household expenditure after rent/mortgage, energy bills and transport.
And this figure does not include alcohol, toiletries and baby essentials.
With wages stagnant and inflation rising, saving money on food has become a near-obsession for struggling families, young and old.
Add to that the steep rise in food prices since the fall in the pound and more people using food banks, saving money on food has never been more important for British people.
The dramatic changes in our food shopping habits since the global financial crisis of 2008 point to how serious we all are about cutting back on the price of filling our plates.
Gone are the days of doing a big weekly shop at Tesco costing over £100. Many people on squeezed incomes are now shopping at budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl and use smaller shops to ‘top-up’ on essentials during the week.
Everyone knows that you will cut costs by shopping at cheaper supermarkets – but are there any other tricks and tips to food shopping which can help cut bills and save on waste?
How to Save Money on Food Bill
1. Buy More Than You Can Eat (in a week)
There’s no doubt about it, buying in bulk and buying bigger on non-perishable foods saves money. This might conjure up images of super-sized portions.
But buying in bulk on staples such as rice, pasta, cereals, tins and household essentials can save you up to 25% on your yearly shopping bill.
The trick is to buy more than you need when the items are at their lowest price (or on offer). So, if you find a packet of rice at a knockdown price, buy five or more bags.
But be careful – this is not the same as falling for supermarket bogoffs. These offers are usually only on non-essential items, things you don’t really need.
Only buy in bulk on staples and you will save big. But make sure you have room in your house to store your bulk buys!
2. Shop at Night
Supermarkets yellow sticker their perishable items from around 7pm and you can bag up to 75% off food if you shop at night. If the food is about to go past the sell by date – stick it in the freezer.
Always busy and partial to a ready meal? Stores like Marks and Spencer, which stock a lot of freshly prepared food, generally reduce their prices an hour before closing time.
So you could get a week’s worth of posh Marks’s lasagnes for half the price if you shop at the right time.
Again the freezer is key to this tip as you can’t eat five lasagnes in one day…..Just get one out in the morning and you’re good to go.
3. Avoid Pre-Packaged
Do you buy your tomatoes in a plastic bag? Or multiple packs of ham? Then you’re paying for the packaging. Your hard-earned cash going on a plastic packet which ends up in the recycling.
Try choosing all your own fruit and veg from the loose produce section and get your ham off the deli counter and you can save up to 10% on your weekly shop.
4. How to Save Money on Food By Going Ugly
When you’re choosing that fruit and veg, look for the ugly produce, as it will often be reduced. Buying that crooked carrot, spotty lemon or knobbly potato can help you to save money on food as well as being kind to the environment.
Around 20-40% of fruit and veg produced by UK farmers ends up either left for animal feed or sent to landfill, because supermarkets don’t want it.
Once peeled and chopped, ugly food tastes the same as pretty food. Asda is leading the charge on encouraging consumers to go ugly with its Wonky Veg Box.
The box is filled with in-season vegetables and salad ingredients at a price that is 30% cheaper than standard lines and costs just £3.50.
Also, save on eggs by buying mixed-size boxes. You only need uniform-sized eggs for baking, for all other egg dishes, mixed size work just the same and are significantly cheaper than boxes of large eggs.
5. Love Your Freezer
A decent-sized freezer is a savvy spender’s friend. You can freeze almost anything, from chocolate to cheese and bread to bananas.
It means you have a constant supply of food that just needs taking out in the morning to defrost. Relying on your freezer can stop that expensive mid-week trip to the convenience store; it just takes a little organisation.
Whether it’s batch-cooking a week’s meals or freezing fresh food about to go off, that white box in the corner of your kitchen can take as much as 20% off an annual food shop.
Changing just a few of your food shopping habits can save a huge amount on your monthly outgoings, leaving more money for holidays and other nice things.
Over to You
What tricks do you use to save money on food? Can you add to our list? Share with us here, we’d love to hear from you!
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