Asda's decision to stop selling loose fruit and vegetables is the latest blow to supermarket bargain-hunters, but all is not lost. If you know the tricks to get decent bargains, then you can beat the supermarkets at their own game and save a fortune.
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1. Consider a special trip for fruit and vegetables
There will always be people who are too busy for anything more than a quick spin round the supermarket once a week. If you have the time, however, it's worth considering a special trip just for fruit and vegetables.
If you have a good market nearby, take your usual shopping list (marked with supermarket prices), and see how much you can save. Alternatively, put your usual shopping list into mysupermarket.com, and save it, then each week you can do a quick price comparison to track down the cheapest supermarket for your fruit and veg.
2. Don't forget the discounters
Aldi and Lidl are incredibly competitive on price, and have different special offers on fruit and veg each week. It's worth bookmarking the websites, so you can easily check if any of your favourites are on special offer.
3. Embrace wonkiness
If you choose to buy your fruit and vegetables with the rest of your weekly shop, you can still save substantially. The supermarkets often have cheaper versions of fruit and vegetables that are lower in price because they're not a standard shape or size. Opting for unusual-shaped vegetables can save you significant sums - and makes no difference to the taste.
4. Don't assume the difference between loose and bagged is negligible
The supermarkets trade on us not bothering to do the comparisons, and just picking up a bag because it's easier. However, the bagged version can sometimes be twice the price of loose produce. It means it's always worth digging a bit deeper.
5. Don't assume bagged is cheapest when it's reduced
It might be 50% off, or 'just £1', but it doesn't mean that ferreting out your own potatoes isn't a cheaper option.
6. Do the comparisons
In some cases, beating them at their own game is can easy matter of checking the comparison prices in small print on the labels, which will tell you the cost per lb or kg. Then you can compare which is cheapest.
7. Don't be thwarted
The supermarkets like to make comparisons hard for us, so loose bananas may be priced per kg, and bagged ones 'per banana' or per lb. It means taking the time to bag up the same number of loose items, weigh them, and calculate the price. That way you can find the cheapest way to buy each item.
8. Make it easier next time
Make a note of the price of loose items and the price of the bagged ones on the day you do your weighing. Next time you visit, check if either is on special offer, and whether that makes it more affordable. It's far easier than starting from scratch each time.
9. Don't forget the waste
All of these comparisons assume you will use a whole bag before it goes off. If you regularly end up throwing away mouldy carrots and wrinkly apples, then factor this into your calculations. To be a better bargain, that bag of apples needs to be cheaper than the actual number of apples you will get through in a week.
10. Check out the yellow stickers
If you tend to shop in the evening, then ask a member of staff what time they do their final reductions. If you're prepared to linger in the fruit and veg aisle when the bargains come out, you could easily snap up a basket full of fruit and vegetables for £1 or less. You may need to be creative when it comes to using it up, but when a punnet of blueberries costs 10p, you'll always find a use for them.