Slash your Grocery Shopping Bill – Ultimate Guide

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Estimated Saving £3,666 per year
Time needed 15 minutes per week
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According to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), food prices in Britain have risen 32% since 2007 – twice the EU average. Staggering results when you compare that to our European neighbours, France and Germany, whose costs only rose by 13%.

In 2011, the average UK person spent £2,291 per year on groceries, according to the Economist. Which means the average family of four would spent a whopping £9,164 per year on groceries!

With this guide, you can save up to 40% on your shopping so you can hold on to more of your money again. So, if you normally spend that £9,164 on groceries each year, that’s a savings of £3,666!

Now, let’s start stashing those savings!

Plan Your Grocery Shopping

When to shop

Saving money begins with a plan. And if you know the keys to your current overspending habits, then you weed them out one by one. But your first key is knowing when to shop.

You can’t simply step out of the house to go buy your groceries without a plan, you’ll end up buying everything on the shelf and spending way more than you should.

Know what you need before you step out. Do that by knowing what you will prepare between pay periods. This way, budgeting your money becomes a breeze.

Plan your meals by your pay

Do you get paid two or four times per month? A bi-weekly pay-check means you’ll not only was to plan and shop for that entire period, but that you’ll need to factor in an extra shop on that week in between – but only for produce and dairy. (HINT: It’ll take a bit of restraint when you go back that middle week to not by anything else…but you can do it!)

Once you know how many meals you’re planning for, sit down and do it.

Your planning can save you even more if you:

Plan meals around promotions

If you have ads or the internet handy, use them to plan meals around what the stores’ have promotions going on. Those savings will add up because you’re using items that already have discounts on them – making your meals even sweeter!

And jump on the stores’ website and check them before you head out.

Most supermarkets put their specials online so you can see what’s on promotion.

This is Tesco’s page. Great to see all the deals and at first glance, we liked it the weekly ad type layout. But then, Asda has their’s organised by aisle, which is great for finding for what you need easily, too.

Plan you shopping around peak reduction times

These are times grocers markdown foods whose expiry date have dawned and that can be a Happier saver’s** dream. With reductions as much as 75% on products whose time has come, saving is guaranteed.

(But be warned, you’ll need to use these items first. Meat from a butcher who’s time has come needs to be a discretionary purchase. If you do pick it up on its date, be sure to go home and cook it or freeze it straight away.)

Store Time Reduction
Morrisons 5pm 25% off
Tesco 8pm 75% off
Somerfield 6pm 75% off

Happier Tummy = Happier Savings

Make sure that no matter what you do, you shop only after your tummy is satisfied. Studies show that consumers spend 10% more on groceries when they shop hungry. If you would normally spend £150, then you up your tag to £165.

Do that each week and you could eat into your savings by as much as £720 a year. Stay happier, shop full.

Buying Guide

Where to Shop

Knowing where to shop is just as important as knowing when to shop.

Whether you’re a Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado or Sainsbury’s devotee, there are promotions and offers to consider. Which store offers you better value for your money? For example, Ocado offers you a voucher if they can’t beat Tesco. And Tesco lets you earn points on your purchases that you can use for days out, vacations or even restaurants and online purchases.

Each store has it’s own value and perks, weigh your shopping needs with what’s being offered. Don’t just go for the first sale you find.

Online shopping

Since we’re in the age of online everything, then consider online shopping as a way to save, as well. In a recent Nielsen report, 64% of consumers found they save money when shopping online because they don’t have to drive to the market. And in today’s fuel market, that means a lot.

From the looks of all the online shopping that’s popped up, the grocers see its value, too.

Many stores offer exclusive promotions on their website that you can’t get in the branch. So, again, study your needs and decide which is better for your wallet.

The best online grocery websites that deliver to your door:


Off brand doesn’t mean off quality

Stores like Aldi and Lidl offer great competition for the bigger chains by offering their brand products only. These stores don’t opt for the same gimmicks the high street stores do – making you a happier shopper. Their no-nonsense approach to marketing and branding makes them low price leaders in their field, saving you more than the fancy chains.

Lidl or local?

Don’t discount local markets because their produce and dairy is often fresher and is even cheaper, while the local butcher offers lower prices on meat. These stores cut out the big middle man, passing savings on to you. Making locals a winner in a Happier savers’ book!

Food Co-Ops

Lastly, food co-ops are a fairly new phenomenon and there aren’t many around yet, but they’re proving to be strong competitors to the likes of Aldi and Lidl. Of course, they only offer food, no cleaning or toiletry supplies. But they do offer home grown foods that are organic and healthy.

The best part about food co-ops is that the money stays in that community. Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of statistics and reports indicating savings, but it’s worth a try for yourself, if you’re able.

That was easy, you’ve got the when and where, but what about how to shop?

Compare the price per unit

Just because a box A of pasta says it’s £1.99 and Brand B is £1.35, doesn’t mean it’s a better offer. If A weighs more than B, the numbers could work out in favour of the higher price ticket.

Just be sure to calculate comparison prices based on weight, not just tag amounts, and your wallet will stay happier.

Staying within your budget

You can’t expect happiness if you’re consistently stepping outside your budget lines. And if you laid out your plan in Step 1, then you have an idea of what you’ll need to spend. Don’t go beyond your list and you should stay within you budget means.

If you overspend on your groceries, you’ve lost money that you’ll need somewhere else in your budget, meaning you could end up using a credit card or going without something you really wanted.

Staying within your budget, while frustrating at the time, ultimately makes you happier.

Always write a shopping lists

Use them. Studies show that list users spend 40% less than those who don’t.

So whether you’re stepping in the store to do your heavy biweekly meal plan shopping or you’re just “running” in after some fruit and veggies, always take and shop by your list.

Ocado has a shopping app that lets you whizz through your shopping online or off and puts your store at your finger tips. The best part? It’s free!

Happier shoppers know how to save!

Use vouchers

Vouchers are easy ways to save money, yet many people don’t make the most of their savings with them. If you have them, use them. And if you don’t have them, get them.

They are literally all over the place.

Use a voucher app on your phone to get them. Use the ads you get in the post and news. Then, check online again before you head out doesn’t hurt!

And if you can use them on already discounted items, WIN!

Promotions are not always good

It seems obvious, but let’s say it anyway. Don’t buy it if you don’t already use it.

The markets are full of promotions and great sales that make you feel like you’re going to miss something if you don’t take advantage of it. That’s called pressured sales. But you’re smarter than that, aren’t you?

Say your store is carrying Brand X Tea BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free), and you normally use Brand Y because, well, you don’t like Brand X. So, should you spend the money on that BOGOF, if you’re going to ultimately come back and buy Brand Y because you couldn’t stand Brand X’s? You’ve just spent more!

Be sure you’re going to use what you buy.

Try the “value” and “own label” brands

When you have Premium, Branded, Own Brand, and Value Brand to choose from, the choice can be difficult. What if you don’t like the value brand? What if the store’s own brand doesn’t taste as good? That’s easy. Don’t buy it.

But count it out until you have tried it to know for sure.

In many cases, the store has gone to great lengths to make sure their brand is fairly comparable to the branded version. And trying to buy all own brand or value brand items with your groceries can literally save you thousands of pounds per year.

In a comparison shop, one family spent £260 for their visit on all premium brands. Then, when they did the same shop with all items bought at one level below what they normally buy, the family saved £75 spending only £185 – a savings of almost 30%!

Over a year if they buy groceries bi-weekly, that saves them an enormous £1950!

Now, premium brand turns into premium price tag. And are you wasting even more prepackaged?

Pre-packaged saves time, but not money

Stay away from pre-packaged and pre-prepared items. They’ll cost you more for less nutrition, meaning you’ll pay a higher price tag for less food and pay for someone else to cook or prepare it.

For example, one takeaway pizza with a side of wedges costs around £10. But, to make your own at home costs around £2.91, saving you an average of £7.09. Say you eat pizza four times a month, that’s a savings of around £336 a year.

Use a cashback site

By participating in the cashback reward system online, you can save even more. Just a few clicks of your mouse on through your favourite store and you could earn as much as £10 to £12 on your groceries!

Check your receipts

Comparing your receipts at Asda Price Guarantee will compare your Asda receipt to their leading competitors and if you don’t save 10% by shopping with them, they’ll give you the difference.

Saving Doesn’t Stop with Shopping

Saving on groceries doesn’t stop at the store. On the contrary, it you have to continue good habits that allow you to use the food you bought and not waste it – or more of your money.

Stock like the shops

When you get home and stock your cupboard, be sure to stock it so that you have the older items in the front of your pantry or fridge. Follow the First In/First Out Rule.

Put what’s been in there longer in front and use it before using the newer item. This prevents you from letting expiry dates creep up on you and cause you to lose inventory and money because you had to replace it.

Use up what you got in the cupboards

Use what you have, the average UK family throws away SEVEN weeks’ of food every year. Don’t go out shopping because you left an ingredient out of your trolley by accident. You’ll only spend more money that way. Make do with what you have by either altering the recipe or cooking something totally different that you do have the ingredients for.

And when you’re done eating, then make sure you have a plan for your leftovers.

  • Freeze them for another time.
  • Use a recipe that calls for those ingredients and completely recycle them.
  • Take them for lunches at work.

Store food carefully

Be mindful of how you store your products. Storing bananas on the shelf means they won’t last as long. Leaving tomatoes out helps them rot faster. Store your produce in the fridge and keep them fresh longer.

Likewise, freezing herbs means you’ll always have a fresh supply on hand and won’t have to stock up as often or won’t lose as much of it as you used to. Put your herbs into an ice cube tray with water and freeze them and they’ll maintain their vivacious color and shape.

Grow your own

If you happen to live in area that enables you to grow your own veggies, you can save even more at the market. Growing your own ensures you know what it is that you’re putting on your table. If you choose you can use natural pesticides to keep them uber-healthy.

Remember the food co-op shopping we mentioned earlier? Did you know that’s something you can even start on your own?

You and your friends can get together and plan to plant different fruits and vegetables for swapping later during harvesting – giving you both a wider variety to choose from.
Can what you grow to keep your fresh produce well into the winter without wasting it.

Be green when you clean

Cleaning with baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar means saving pounds and saving the environment. Vinegar has disinfecting qualities and gets your home as clean as a store bought all-purpose cleaner.

Reduce your paper products – use cotton or washable materials

Cleaning with paper products means you have to constantly replace expensive kitchen towels. Save that extra £120 per year by switching to cloth rags or invest in a steam cleaner which will literally save you hundreds on cleaning chemicals.

Be a Smart Planner

Planning your meals means your planning how you’re going to fuel your body for the following week or two. By thinking with your wallet in mind, you can plan meals that will power you up and save you money.

Beans and legumes are a delicious way to do that. Stews and soups help fill your belly without emptying your wallet, too. And you can snack on lower cost fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, and more.

Become Happier – save wherever you can!

Conclusion – The Wrap Up

To make the most of your pounds, before, during, and after you shop:

  1. Prepare Ahead
    1. Plan your meals.
    2. Make your lists.
    3. Cook at home.
    4. Use online resources to know what’s on sale and what vouchers are available before you head out.
    5. Decide if online shopping is better for you.
  2. Shop Smart
    1. Compare price/unit, not just sale v. regular price.
    2. Jump down a level in your brands on everything you buy
    3. Use your list and don’t buy anything not on it.
  3. Stock Smart
    1. Stock First In/First Out
    2. Use First In/First Out
    3. Freeze, Reuse, or recycle leftovers

Use these tips well and become a Happier shopper.


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