Grocery shopping is one of the largest weekly expenses for most households in the UK. With the current economic crisis, food prices are rising at the fastest rate in eight years. In February 2022, food price inflation hit 4.3%, and the price of basic essentials, like toothpaste, increased by 45%.
In today’s blog post, we share our top tips for saving money on your weekly food bill in the UK. The average two-person household spends a whopping £73.90 on their weekly food shop – according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS.) This equates to £3,842 a year for food shopping alone.
Follow these tips and tricks to save money on food and cut back on waste.
Set a budget
Creating a food budget is the best way to manage your money effectively. Look at your grocery expenses for the last three months and set a realistic budget for the month ahead. Put your grocery money to one side when you get paid, and allocate a weekly spending limit.
Some households opt to do one big shop for the essentials and then smaller fresh food shops throughout the month. For example, you could bulk buy cupboard food, cleaning supplies, and frozen food at the start of the month. Others like to do one food shop per week with everything they need for their meal plan. That way, there’s no need to pop into more expensive supermarkets after work to pick up last-minute groceries.
Monitor your budget and see where your money is going at the end of the month. You might find you are spending a lot of money on late-night chocolate runs and weekend wine treats.
Start meal planning
Sit down on a Sunday evening and write a meal plan for the week. Check what you have in the kitchen and plan some meals from those groceries. If you are struggling for inspiration, there are endless recipes online to choose from. Try out a few new recipes, along with some familiar favourites for when you need something swift. Just make sure to factor in your social plans for the week, like going out for dinner or spending the day in the office.
Meal planning takes the guesswork out of cooking. Stick to your shopping list and tick off items as you go.
Bulk buy and batch cook
Preparation is the key to saving time and money on food. Instead of cooking something new for every meal – start batch cooking. You could make an extra portion of your dinner for lunch the next day. Or, if you have a spare hour on the weekend, make a big soup, curry or bolognese to put in the freezer. Put each portion into a plastic container and defrost when you need a quick dinner after work.
When you spot an offer, try bulk buying your essential items – like rice, canned beans, tinned foods and frozen fruit. Although there’s a higher initial cost, you will save money on food in the long run. Only bulk buy fresh produce when you plan to batch cook a particular meal. Fresh fruit and vegetables will quickly exceed their use-by date.
Cut down on food waste
The average UK family with two children wastes £60 worth of food per month, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WARP.) The UK throws away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste every year – and WARP reports 4.5 million tonnes of it could have been eaten. There is an enormous waste problem in the UK, and it could be impacting our food finances as well.
Store leftover vegetables in plastic boxes and eat them for lunch the following day or freeze it when possible. If you cut down your food waste, you could save money on your weekly shopping bill. For example, taking £10 off your weekly food shopping equates to saving £500 every year.
Your chosen supermarket can make a big difference to your food shopping. Lidl and Aldi are the budget supermarkets, while Waitrose and Ocado are more expensive. Supermarkets like Tesco, Asda and Morrisons settle somewhere in-between and often have impressive discount offers. Iceland is the perfect place to grab a bargain, and they are one of the only supermarkets to offer free next day delivery (on orders over £35.) Check out Home Bargains and B&M to save money on cleaning and household products.
There are also supermarket loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar. With Iceland’s Bonus Card, you can access exclusive discounts and a £1 bonus for every £20 saved. Keep your loyalty cards in your wallet, and look out for any vouchers and discounts available. However, as a general rule, choose your supermarket on price – not the loyalty scheme available.
Use discount vouchers
Online supermarkets usually have introductory discounts for new customers, helping you save money. For example, in February, you could get £15 off a £60 shop at Sainsbury’s. While these discounts are useful for your first shop, just remember you will need to pay the full price for your next shop online.
Shopping online is a great way to monitor your weekly food budget and the discounts available. You can see exactly how much you are spending, without the risk of a huge bill at the till.
Most supermarkets advertise multi-buy discounts so you can save money on numerous products. However, sometimes they can up the price of each item within these offers to make the special offer appear better. Watch out for supermarket discount tactics and get the most out of the offers available.
Yellow label food shopping
Supermarkets use yellow labels for food that has been reduced to clear due to a near use-by date or damaged packaging. Usually, yellow stickers appear mid-morning and major reductions begin early evening. Yellow labels can sometimes get reductions at 75% or more. The exact timings and reductions tend to change from store to store.
Go for the value range
Marketing can play a big role in your food shopping experience. Supermarkets tend to split items into different brand levels – premium, branded, own brand and value. Premium products are usually described with terms like ‘finest’ and ‘extra special.’ Branded food is items from specific brands, like McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes and Heinz Baked Beans. Own brand groceries tend to have similar packaging to the branded options but with a reduced price and supermarket logo. Finally, the value range is marketed with terms like ‘basic’ and ‘savers’. Value brands often have plain packaging and the cheapest deals available. Save money with the value or own-brand range at your supermarket of choice.
Some supermarkets also offer a wonky fruit and veg range. Wonky veg is rejected from the standard supermarket range because it does not meet the standards for colour and shape. A wonky veg box includes all kinds of seasonal fruit and vegetables for a reduced price.
Save money on food with Fair for You
Fair for You have teamed up with Iceland to trial an ethical credit scheme called the Food Club Card – currently available to new customers located in certain areas of England and Wales. The scheme has been designed to help you stock up your freezer and cupboards in Iceland Food Warehouse stores using a prepaid card. You can apply for a loan amount between £25 and £75 to use online and in-store. Repayments are set to £10 per week, and you can choose which day of the week you want to make them. You can take out more credit for further Iceland shops up to six times per year – as long as you don’t exceed an outstanding balance of £100 and keep up to date with payments.
Find Out More
If you or anyone you know is struggling to afford the basic items they need to furnish their home or support their family, then Fair for You is here to help.
As mentioned, we look to offer essential goods to those on a low income, but in a way, that’s different to the companies that set out to do so for massive profit at your expense. Instead, Fair for You is on your side, and we strive to offer our stock at the lowest price possible in line with retail value with a flexible payment schedule. Our focus is on people, not profit.
Check out our online shop to view our products for sale, including beds, laptops, sofa, dining room furniture, children’s beds, hoovers and much more.