With high prices turning even grocery basket basics like butter into extravagant luxuries these days, we asked budget-savvy cooking guru, Becky Excell, for some advice on how to keep our cupboards full without emptying our wallets. Here are her top tips for making your weekly food budget go further…
Shopping late in the evening or during the last hour on a Sunday is a great way to save money as you'll often find really good deals in the reduced to clear section. Likewise, you should try to avoid using smaller branches of supermarkets for bigger shops, and aim to stick to the larger branches. They’re great for convenience, but although it may be the same company the prices in these are always higher than at the larger branches!
More often than not, the bigger the pack, the better the value. Take chicken breasts, for instance. With a pack of two, the literal price may be lower but the cost per fillet compared to, say, a pack of 10 is much more. Buy multipacks whenever you can and pop anything you don’t use in the freezer or cupboard for later. Over the course of a year, you could save oodles and oodles of money.
We all know what it's like. You walk around the store, you see all those brightly coloured offer signs and suddenly your trolley's full of stuff you didn’t mean to buy. But a bargain is only a bargain if you actually needed it in the first place! Making a list before you go helps you avoid being drawn in by the deals and also means you're less likely to have to do top-up shops later in the week, which are always more expensive than you expect.
Brands pay extra to have their products on the middle shelves at eye level. But these items tend to be more expensive, so make sure you look up high and down low too. You'll often find cheaper alternatives, including supermarket own label stuff. Likewise, don’t assume products are only available in one place. Things like coconut milk, chickpeas and spices are often cheaper in the world foods aisle than the standard one. The same goes for products like nuts and seeds, which can be really expensive in the snacks cabinet or health foods section but much better value in the baking aisle.
It may take a few seconds longer to grab them but loose fruit and veg are almost always less expensive than pre-packed. It's not just a win for your wallet either. Less packaging can be better for the planet and comes with the added bonus of being able to select the tastiest looking products in the pile.
Most supermarket loyalty schemes are great for saving money, especially now most of the big chains offer discounted prices for members. Join as many as you can, look for coupons and discounts in newsletters or on packaging and download the supermarket apps to get personalised deals. Using a digital wallet like PayPal is also a great way to track how much you're spending and make it easier to stick to your budget. You may even discover you have enough money left over one week to treat yourself thanks to using all these other hacks!
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