Cutting your supermarket shopping bill is easier than you think. One woman claims you can cut the cost in half - without becoming an obsessive voucher snipper or devoting hours to the art of bargain hunting. She says these ten simple steps will help you cut your spend in half.
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1. Have a budget before you go.
Rather than a monthly budget, break it down into weeks, so you know exactly what you have to spend each time you shop. She says a sensible budget for a family of four is about £78 a week - if you know what you're doing.
2. Do a meal plan
Shopping starts with planning out everything you're going to cook during the week. This may feel overly organised, but the more planning you do, the less waste you will have, and the more you will save.
3. Make a list
The meal plan should form the basis of your list, plus any lunches at school and work, household basics, and (if you are organised enough) the ingredients for some bulk cooking and freezing. It's tempting to think you can wing it, but you can save a fifth of the cash you would otherwise spend by making a list - and sticking to it.
In the US stores will price match, but in the UK we have to do the legwork instead. By far the easiest way is to check on mysupermarket.co.uk before you go. Put your shopping list into the site, and check the cost at each of the supermarkets. Then you can either choose the one that's cheapest overall, or break your shop down in order to buy wherever the items are cheapest. Time is going to dictate the approach that works best for you, because the more time you have, the more you can save.
5. Have a look at the in-store magazine
You don't need to read it cover-to-cover, because the big offers of the week will be on the front and back pages, so you can spot big savings on the items you usually buy - or items that are very similar at least.
6. Go back to basics
Anything that has been pre-prepared means you are paying for someone else's work. It's far cheaper to do it yourself for free. That goes for everything from ready-meals to chopped carrots. Everyone needs to strike a balance between how much they time they have for cooking, and how much they are prepared to pay but it's worth trying cooking from scratch - even just for one week. The savings may well convince you that long-established habits are worth tweaking.
7. Surf the yellow stickers
You can get some astonishing savings - with expensive fruit and meat often reduced to a tiny fraction of the full cost because it needs to be used or frozen within a few days. Some people will buy whatever is in the yellow sticker section, and consider it a challenge to make a meal from it. Others will make a stop at the reduced section, to see if there's anything on their list. The amount of time you have to devote to creative meal planning will dictate the most sensible approach (although if you can get creative with yellow stickers you could feed the family every night for under £5).
8. Avoid brands
You don't need to pay for the advertising and branding of these mega-brands. The supermarket own-brand products are often every bit as good. It's at least worth trying the supermarket own-brand of everything you buy. If you don't like it, you can always trade up again later.
9. Check the dates
Stock control at the supermarkets means the oldest items are at the front of the shelf. If you are buying for later in the week, reach to the back of the fridge or the fruit and veg baskets, and you'll find items with a longer shelf life. That way you won't end up throwing food away because it has gone off.
10. Avoid eye-level
The most expensive items are put at eye-level, because it's where we're naturally drawn. Before picking anything off the shelves, check if there's a cheaper version higher or lower on the shelf.
These ten tips, taken together, can cut the price of your shopping in half - even before you consider entering the world of coupon clipping. But what do you think? Would you give them a try?