Saving money at the supermarket: top tips to keep it cheaper

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It’s becoming pretty obvious to many people that to get the best deal on a food shop, it’s often best to shop around. While many people “wouldn’t be seen dead” in the likes of Aldi and Lidl just five or six years ago, it’s now become a proud tradition of former non-believers – and it’s no surprise, given the value for money these shops offer.

However, it’s pretty obvious that a budget supermarket may offer a better deal than, say, Waitrose or Marks & Spencer. Here, we’re going to outline less obvious tips that, while perhaps being pretty simple, are often overlooked by those people looking to make real savings on a shop wherever they go.

Never go food shopping on an empty stomach

We’ve all been there… you’ve only had breakfast and you’re about to embark on a trip to the supermarket in the late afternoon. Perhaps you’ve got no food in the house worth making, but one thing you really should do is grab a cheap bite to eat before making decisions on what goes in your trolley.

Without a cheap sandwich at a chain café, or even just a piece of fruit, you could soon see your basket filling with snacks and expensive “one-off” purchases that are solely reflecting the stomach being created by your heart, not your brain. Quell your stomach before walking down the aisles – £1 for a sandwich could save you £7 to £10 in unnecessities.

Make a list and stick to it

When you don’t know what you’re buying, how can you know that you’re getting the best bang for your buck? If you know what you want, you’re much more likely to make a beeline to cross things off your roster than deviate and end up picking things up you don’t need.

We recommend that you make a rough meal plan – at least, take into account the constituent parts of meals that you eat regularly (e.g. sides: rice, potatoes, couscous, salad; mains: chicken, veggie burgers, fish). Think about prioritising flexible meal options – consider how you can change tastes with sauces or marinades, for example.

Don’t be sucked in by deals unless it really is good value

Sometimes mark-downs aren’t what you think they are. Supermarkets have been known to mark-up a price on a specific product or two in order to claim that they’re giving you a “great deal” by reverting it to a price that is, for all intents and purposes, its RRP. Unless it’s something you know is cheaper – and you regularly see it at full price – think twice before you buy.

Look at the per-100g price, not the full price

Having trouble figuring out which offer gives you the best deal? Look at the small print on the label – the price is also given in how much money it costs per 100g (or, indeed, 100ml) of product. That way, you can see the true cost of what you’re getting.