The trolley detox: the switches that will save you money
After Christmas, it's not just our bodies that could do with a detox, our shopping habits could do with an overhaul too - to take some of the more ridiculously overpriced choices out of our lives.
We reveal the 10 trolley switches that could save you thousands of pounds this year and beyond.
See also: The 17 supermarket shopping rules to save you money in 2017
See also: What will happen to food prices in 2017?
See also: The super-saver who EARNS money on weekly shop
1. Swap chopped veg for proper fruit and vegetables
Any vegetables that have been prepared for you will attract a premium and go off faster, so it's time to stop buying anything that has been chopped, peeled, spirallised or grated. Whole fruit and vegetables can be four times cheaper, which is quite a saving for five minutes of preparation.
2. Swap fresh fish for frozen
Unless you live in a fishing village, the chances are that the fresh fish you buy has at least been on ice for part of its life - so you don't gain anything by buying fresh instead of frozen. Given that fresh can cost up to twice as much, this is a no-brainer.
3. Swap pizzas and cakes for actual ingredients
You can make up pizza dough or a cake with less than 20 minutes of hands-on work (plus baking and proving). In return you can eat cakes for half the price, and pizzas for less than a quarter of the cost. Plus you know there aren't any nasty additives in there.
4. Swap microwave meals for one home-cooked staple a week
Not everyone has the time to cook from scratch every day. However, all of us have the time to make one giant batch of something every week - whether that's lasagna, curry or cottage pie. If you make up seven portions of one dish every week and freeze them, you'll soon have a different home-cooked meal to pop in the microwave every day of the week. The savings can be impressive - with home-cooked versions costing a third of the price of the microwave meals - and without nasty additives either.
5. Swap burgers for pizza
Meat-free Monday doesn't have to be torture. One day of pizza, pasta, risotto or veggie curry will do you and your bank balance no end of good - especially if you make it from scratch.
6. Swap household names for supermarket own-brands
This will need to be a process of trial and error, because you're not going to like all of the own-brand versions. However, given that they can be around half the price of the well-known names, it's worth trying everything at least once. If you don't like it, you can switch back, but if you like at least some of the switches, you can take £10 off the cost of the weekly shop.
7. Swap supermarket brands for discount brands
If you already buy own-brands, then you can try the supermarket's economy brand - or try a discount supermarket brand. Again, not every switch will prove a wise move, but some will stick - there are few people who care enough about their porridge oats or kitchen cloths to justify anything beyond the basic brands. This move could take another £10 off the cost of your shop.
8. Swap bottled water for a water bottle
Plastic bottles of water are convenient and handy when you're out and about. However, if you invest in a water bottle for each member of your family, and keep it scrupulously clean, then tap water will provide all the safe, convenient water you need - and can save you more than £100 a year.
9. Swap kitchen towels for all-purpose cloths
It may not seem like you can spend an awful lot on paper towels, but assuming a typical level of clumsiness, if you swap them for economy all-purpose cloths you can save £30 a year.
10. Swap body wash for soap
It's difficult to know why we suddenly decided that we were happy to spend so much on washing, and that using soap was so difficult. If you use body wash, by switching to a 25p bar of Johnson's Baby Soap, washing yourself will cost roughly a tenth of the price.