Sun. May 19th, 2024

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Finally some good news – the rise in food inflation has finally started to fall, with the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 4% in the year to March 2024, down from 5% in February.

The figure for March was the lowest annual rate since November 2021 and means that food inflation has now eased for 12 months in a row, from a record high of 19.2% in March 2023, the highest annual rate seen for over 45 years.

The biggest falls came from the drop in prices of bread, cereals and meat, as well as bakery products such as chocolate biscuits and crumpets. Overall, the annual rate eased in eight of the ONS’s 11 food and non-alcoholic beverages classes, the exceptions being vegetables, hot beverages, and soft drinks.

ways to cut grocery bill

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But costs are still going up and, as any trip to the supermarket will remind you, we’re not out of the woods yet. With volatility in hot spots around the world having a possible impact on logistics, energy costs and commodity prices, there could be further shocks ahead.

Canny shoppers are changing their shopping habits to combat inflation, using tactics such as trading down to cheaper products or visiting several retailers, with comparison sites making it easier than ever to find out what your favourite items cost up and down the high street and online. Meanwhile, supermarket chains are responding to the challenge with price cuts and special offers to try and tempt shoppers down the aisles.

So, with stubbornly high prices still making sticking to the budget a challenge, here are some great tips to help you save in the supermarket.

How to save money on your supermarket shop

1. Take advantage of loyalty schemes

Loyalty schemes are the hot ticket right now, with many retailers pepping up their money-saving offerings to lure consumers through the doors. Most supermarkets offer a loyalty scheme, from the original Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar scheme to Lidl Plus and M&S Sparks card.

The best way to use these schemes isn’t to stuff your purse with a card for every supermarket and chase down deals, but to get to know the workings of the one where you normally shop and focus on that. That way it will be easier for you to max out the advantages and spot genuinely good deals on the things you normally buy. Some schemes require you to spend a lot to get any tangible rewards but, if you have many mouths to feed, it can really help.

Top tip: Download the supermarket loyalty scheme app or add the reward card to your smartphone wallet – you’ll never forget your loyalty card again!

2. Switch to own-brands

You’re probably a pro at this already, but if not, switching to own-brand products should be high on your list of cost-cutting actions. Some own-brand products are as good, if not better, as more well-known brands. For example, Asda’s Special Flakes Cereal costs just 99p for 500g and our taste testers at the GHI actually liked them more than a big name brand that currently costs £3.29 for 440g. See if your family notices the difference!

Try trading down with store cupboard essentials such as flour, rice and pasta, freezer essentials like peas and chips, and regular buys including toilet roll, ketchup, cooking oil, margarine, and crisps. Keep experimenting! Downshifting saves around 30% off a typical grocery bill, according to MoneySavingExpert.

ways to cut grocery bill

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3. Plan meals and portions carefully

Buying only what you need may sound like an obvious way to save money, but it can be easier said than done. Try planning your meals for the week ahead – or even for the month, if you have the energy. Once you have a few weeks’ worth of plans, you can rotate them and save yourself lots of time.

It might sound old school but when you’re shopping in-store, make a list before you head for the supermarket and stick to it!

Then, before you start cooking, use the Love Food Hate Waste Portion Calculator to figure out exactly how much to cook of each food – this should help reduce the amount of food you throw away. Simply choose an ingredient you plan to serve up – rice, for instance – then select the number of people you’re cooking for, and the tool will tell you how much you need. It even works out portion sizes for toddlers, younger children aged 4-10 years and older children aged 11-18 years, as well as adult portions.

Top tip: Don’t assume the petrol at your local supermarket forecourt is the cheapest in town, use PetrolPrices app to keep an eye on the cheapest where you live.

4. Work out if you’re really getting a good deal

Make sure you’re not tempted by false bargains. Just because something has a ‘yellow sticker’ to show it has been reduced because it’s near the ‘use-by’ or ‘best-before’ date, don’t assume you are necessarily getting a good deal.

“Yellow stickers can offer great discounts, but always look at the original price, too,” says Reduced Grub food blogger, Emma Bradley. “Check for better reductions later in the day when 20p off can turn into 75% off. Just make sure it’s something you actually need.”

If you really have found a bargain on a yellow sticker item, check if you can freeze it. According to Sainsbury’s, 60% of us avoid buying reduced products because we don’t think we’ll be able to eat it in time. Pop your bargains in the freezer and you’ve got yourself a snack or a meal for later.

Top tip: Research shows that we tend to go for a mid-range choice and retailers know this! They stack their shelves with the most profitable items at eye-level. So if you’re looking for cheaper options, look at the shelves above and below your line of vision as you’ll probably find a better deal.

Supermarkets don’t always make it easy to compare like for like. Download supermarket comparison apps such as mysupermarketcompare, trolley.co.uk or Priceable to find the price of specific products and check where’s cheapest. Then you can check when you are shopping if the ‘amazing discount’ is really as good as it seems. It may be discounted but is it the cheapest you can find across all supermarkets?

ways to cut grocery bill

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Have you heard about Approved Food yet?

Approved Food is a discount online retailer which specialises in selling well-known brands and family favourites which have passed their ‘best before’ date, at a fraction of the price. For example, some of its current deals include six large Old El Paso tortillas for £1.25 (down from £1.80); a 40g bag of Walkers’s Sensation Thai Sweet Chilli crisps for 89p (down from £1); and Sharwoods Extra Creamy Butter Chicken Sauce at £1.19 (down from £1.75). There’s free delivery when you spend over £35. Remember, it’s a clearance website so deals come and go quickly!

“‘Best before’ doesn’t mean out of date. It has more to do with the quality of the product,” says Andy Needham, managing director, Approved Food. “Once the best before date has passed, it is often the case that food remains in good condition and is still perfectly good and safe to eat and drink.”

5. Check the temperature of your fridge

Yes, really! The average UK household throws away £70 of otherwise edible food every month simply because it has been stored incorrectly. That’s a whopping £840 a year going straight in the food waste bin that you could shave money off your grocery spend.

Check your fridge is set to the recommended temperature of 4°C or lower to ensure your fresh food and leftovers keep for as long as they should. If your fridge doesn’t have a digital temperature display, the Chill the Fridge Out tool offers advice on setting it to the correct temperature. Then use a fridge thermometer to check it’s cold enough.

6. Make better use of your freezer

Keep an eye on the ‘use by’ dates of meat, fish and dairy products in your fridge. If you think you’re not going to use them before they go off, freeze them.

The same applies to things like packets of bacon or jars of passata you open but don’t use up in one go. Remember to label anything you put in the freezer clearly with the date it went in. Wherever possible, freeze things in the quantities required to cook your favourite recipes to avoid having to defrost more than you need.

cut grocery bills

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