Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Reduce your Food Costs with Savy Shopping

Here are a few of my thrifty tips for making your food budget stretch further.

View supermarket offers online before you shop

The major UK supermarkets all advertise weekly offers on their websites. Check out which fresh and frozen meats and vegetables are heavily discounted and plan your meals around them.  Use your imagination or search the web for recipes. 

If you live in an area with more than one local supermarket, compare the offers on their websites to decide where to do your weekly shop.  If you want to take advantage of different offers at different stores, make sure the  potential savings outweigh any transportation costs involved.

Buy things that aren't on your shopping list

The endlessly repeated 'stick to your list' advice is only useful for junk food junkie impulse buyers.  Actually, those types of people are unlikely to head anyone's advice when they come face-to-face with a special on chocolate bar multi-packs!

To get nutritious food at the best possible price, you need a flexible attitude towards shopping and meal planning.  You never know what you are going to find in the 'reduced for quick sale' bins.  You may get a chance to stock up your freezer with half price premium sausages or salmon fillets.  If you are trying to stay within a weekly budget, this may mean changing your menu ideas on the spot.  It helps to have a wide repertoire of recipes.

Don't assume the advertised offer is the best value

A supermarket may have a big sign indicating that a certain package of tomatoes is a great deal at £1.  If you take the time to compare the price per kilogram with other varieties of tomatoes, you may find a better price.  The non-advertised pack selling for £1.20 could contain 50% more tomatoes by weight. 

Be sure to compare like with like

The recent years of inflation, many food manufacturers have tried to keep their prices stable by reducing the amount of product in the package.  Packs of bacon that used to contain 8 rashers now contain 6.  Packs of ground coffee that used to contain 227 grams now contain 200 grams.  If one brand stands out as cheaper than the others, make sure it contains the same amount of product.  It could turn out to be more expensive.

Stock up on store cupboard staples

With strategic planning, you should never have to pay full price for items with a long shelf life.  If you see a half-price or better offer on things you use that come in jars or tins, it's time to stock your pantry.  The same is true for dry, packaged foods like pasta or pulses.  Do check the use-by date.  If it's a couple of years in the future, and you cook with the item on a regular basis, fill your cupboard to the degree that your budget will allow.

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