The 17 supermarket shopping rules to save you money in 2017

Emma Woollacott
Young man in supermarket comparing bottles of oil, rear view, close-up
Young man in supermarket comparing bottles of oil, rear view, close-up

It's a battle of wits doing the supermarket shop, with retailers using every trick in the book to make us spend more than we really want.

Tempting offers, the aroma of freshly-based bread and carefully-positioned snacks all combine to leave our wallets emptier than we planned.

But there are lots of clever ways you can keep the cost of your supermarket shopping down; we look at 17 money-saving tricks for 2017.

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1. Make a list
You'll be much less likely to fall for impulse buys if you walk into the store knowing exactly what you need. It's when you're wandering round aimlessly that you panic that you might have run out of milk.

2. Check prices in advance
Type in your list at the Mysupermarket website and it will let you know which store will be cheapest. You can compare prices for individual items, or for your whole list.

3. Pick the right time of day
As the day goes on, supermarkets slash the price of fresh food. If you can leave your shopping until the late afternoon or evening, you can find goods reduced by up to 75%.

What time of day does your supermarket cut prices?

4. Trade down
If you usually buy branded goods, try switching to a supermarket's own-brand instead; if you're already doing that, try their basics ranges. You might find you and your family can't tell the difference.

5. Don't fall for special offers
The store may tell you an item is half-price - but is it really? They often sell things at a higher price than the competition for a while, just so they can then mark things down. And beware of multi-buys: will you really eat a dozen yoghurts before they go off?

6. Find vouchers online...
There's usually a discount to be had for your first online grocery shop, and it's often pretty substantial - so it's worth giving each one a try. You'll also find discounts galore on our Deals page, here.

7. ...and on the floor
So-called 'wombling' involves scouring supermarket floors for discarded receipts - which often include money-saving vouchers.

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8. Use loyalty cards
An obvious one this, but one of the easiest ways to save money on your shopping. You don't actually have to be loyal to one supermarket, of course.

9. Buy seasonally
Yes, we all like strawberries - but they won't be at their best at this time of year, and they'll probably cost a fortune. By sticking to produce that's in season, you'll save a fortune - and enjoy those summer fruits all the more when June comes round.

10. Cook from scratch
We're not suggesting you knock up salmon en croute for one when you get home from the office. But you can make soup from scratch almost as quickly as opening and heating a tin, for example, and save yourself a fortune.

11. Go shopping alone
If you can avoid taking the kids with you, do: not only will it be easier to avoid buying unhealthy snacks, you'll be able to concentrate on what you actually do need.

12. Shop only when you need to
It's easy to get into the habit of a big weekly shop, but that often means buying more than you need - and throwing stuff away. If you shop on a little-and-often basis, you'll never find yourself overstocked.

13. Look high and low
The most expensive items are nearly always positioned at eye-level; you'll often find a similar but cheaper product on the top or bottom shelves.

14. Look beyond supermarkets
Pound shops often (though not always) have household products at cheaper prices than supermarkets. Similarly, markets will generally be a much cheaper price to buy your fruit and veg.

15. Visit the big stores
You might assume that one Tesco charges the same as any other - but that's not the case. Smaller, 'Metro'-style stores can be a third more expensive than the bigger outlets, so go for the superstore if you have a choice.

16. Make the most of price match
Most supermarkets will offer a price match on your basket, based on branded items. If you split your list into two separate trips - or even just two baskets - you'll get your discount without your own-brand products dragging the overall price down.

17. Don't shop on pay day
It's easy to get carried away with a month's worth of money burning a hole in your pocket - but remember just how long it's got to last. Rationing yourself means there should be enough left for a treat at the end of the month.