In this day and age, it appears that the vast majority of people need to save money. Salaries aren’t increasing in line with interest rates and yet living costs seem to be increasing all the time. Once luxuries are cut out, it can be hard to see where you can decrease your spending any further, but with some careful thought and preparation you can save big at the supermarket.
Look out for discounts
Before you even go shopping, check your local newspaper as well as any flyers that come through the door for money-off coupons. Only look for those products that you would buy anyway; for example, if you usually buy a certain brand of tinned tomatoes, but you find coupons for another brand that is just as good and has money off, then go for that. You can also look out for good discounts as you go around the supermarket, but again, make sure that it is for products that you actually need and don’t be tempted to buy something that will sit in the cupboard until it is beyond its sell-by date.
Find out about supermarket cards
Some supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco in the UK, have supermarket cards that you present to the cashier when paying for your goods, after which you are given a certain amount of points, usually to the value of a penny per pound. However, over time these points add up and you can then claim money-off vouchers to the value of the points you have earned. If you are a family of four and shop three or four times a month, this amount can soon add up. There are sometimes special offers that allow you to collect even more points.
Check out the ‘almost past its sell-by date’ section
Most supermarkets will have a few shelves of goods that are close to their sell-by date, but that, if eaten soon after purchase, or are frozen, are perfectly good to eat. Be sensible when looking on these shelves. Ten loaves of bread at a bargain price aren’t much good if you are single and don’t have the space in your freezer to store them. It also isn’t a good idea to buy foodstuffs that you and your family won’t eat, no matter how cheap. But if you keep your eye on the section, you will occasionally find bargains that you do actually need.
Buy and cook in bulk
If you don’t already have a large freezer, it is well worth buying one because it will then allow you to buy and cook in bulk and then freeze the extra. If you eat a lot of rice for example, go for the biggest bag you can because you can save a lot of money that way. Frozen vegetables are also a great idea because you can use what you need and save the rest. Also, get into the habit of cooking at least double what you need for every meal, then you can freeze the rest and eat when you don’t feel like cooking. Having a variety of frozen meals is also great for when one member of the family doesn’t want what everyone else is eating.
Stick to meal plans
Planning your meals and only buying what you need to make them may sound tedious, but it really can save you a great deal of money on groceries. Do a basic meal plan to cover a week, or a fortnight if you think that your family will quickly bore of it. Then draw up a shopping list to cover exactly what you need, and with a bit extra so that you can freeze left-overs. Knowing exactly what you need will help you to stick to a budget, and provided you know your supermarket well, will enable you to go directly to what you need without getting side-tracked.
Sometimes physically going to the supermarket can be really stressful, especially if you have a budget, but are constantly asked to by extras by your children. It can also be very time-consuming. Consider shopping online instead. There may be a small delivery charge, but you will probably save that just by not buying the odd bars of chocolate for the children. Supermarket sites also allow you to save your favourites so that each time you shop you can go straight for what you want and avoid being tempted by things you don’t really need.
You can slash money off your spending at the supermarket if you become more organised. Over the period of a month, that can work out to be a substantial amount of money.