Supermarkets offer the ultimate in convenience shopping, with everything you need for the week ahead in one place. If you regularly baulk when you get to the checkout though, here are a few tips for getting the best value from your weekly shop.
Busy lives make dropping into the supermarket for a quick ready meal a tempting option but by planning the week's meals ahead, you can cut down on waste - how many of us have opted for a ready meal leaving fresh food to go out of date? Check store cupboards, the fridge and freezer so you are not duplicating and make a list before you go shopping.
Take advantage of offers on mince, chicken or stewing steak too - from spaghetti Bolognese to traditional beef stew, cooking a large quantity can mean saving money and, if you're not keen on eating the same food two days running, freeze portions for a quick evening meal.
Deals and offers
The supermarkets are filled with special offers and deals on food products and it's an easy way to cut your weekly bill. But do be aware that they are not always what they seem. When you're in a rush to get the shopping done, it's easy to snap up 'two for' offers, or buy larger quantities that appear to be on a deal, but often you'll find they're actually non-discounts. Similarly don't get sucked into buy one get one free deals unless you know the products will get used, you can freeze one for another time, or they're non-perishables.
Cut-price items that are about to hit their 'use by' date are usually discounted late in the day, so time your shopping right and you could snap up some freezable bargains.
Even if you don't want to scrimp on meat or veg, switching some of your list items for own brand or 'value' range alternatives could save you a bundle at the checkout. Try downgrading things like toiletries such as shower gel or toilet roll, and store cupboard staples like beans, chopped tomatoes, pasta and condiments.
Your nearest supermarket might be the easiest option, but it's not always the best. You can compare prices on some of your most regular buys at the likes of mySupermarket or Compare Supermarket Prices, and then do a once-a-month trip to the cheapest option. Don't rule out budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl, both of which have been winning awards for many of their discount products.
It has been said many times before - don't shop when your tummy's rumbling. When you're hungry, you are much more likely to impulse buy in the supermarkets, and the chances are once your hunger has been sated, you'll end up chucking stuff out. If possible, avoid taking the kids on the weekly shop - many eyes usually make for more buys.
Have you managed to save on your weekly shop? What are your tips for stretching your budget? Leave your comments below...