Saving money shopping for food
With so much concern over the rising cost of living, consumer champion Which? Has some tips on saving money shopping for food.
Here they are with our comments in italics:-
Buy supermarket own brands. We agree; they are usually cheaper and often produced at the same factories as known brands.
Join rewards programmes (Waitrose is particularly recommended). If the aim is to save money, we’d prefer to shop at the store which gives us the cheapest prices now. If you join a rewards programme, don’t buy anything that you wouldn’t have bought anyway.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat.
Make your own drinks.
Buy in bulk. Often cheaper, but not always; compare price per kilo, 100 gms or litre.
Use price match promises. Or shop at more than one supermarket.
Use vouchers. Yes if it’s something for nothing.
Multi buy (but only buy what you want). See our views about saving money shopping for food below
Check reduced shelves. Agree. Is it me or are there more yellow label discounts around at the moment, and earlier in the day. We only buy chilled yellow label products when they’re cheaper than the equivalent product frozen.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Research and plenty of people tell us this. We buy more food when we’re hungry when we shop.
Use the freezer to stock up. Yes if it’ll cost more next week or if you’re buying yellow label products.
In other unrelated pieces, Which? suggest making a shopping list (and sticking to it), shopping around, growing your own and avoiding local convenience stores.
We have a few ideas of our own on ways of saving money shopping for food.
Understand more about how supermarkets work
Research tells us that the larger the shopping trolley or basket, the more people spend. We know that but still buy more ourselves when using a larger trolley or basket.
Supermarkets use colours to promote offers (especially red which promotes impulse). They use layout, sounds , smells etc. No wonder cashiers are used to customers who have spent £100+ telling them that they only came in for a loaf of bread!
Think off a product having 2 prices. Sometimes it is £1.50 and at others £1 when it is advertised as reduced or rollback (often the discounters price will be somewhere between the two). When at full price it may be offered at 2 for £2, 2 for £2.50 etc.
If you always buy the same brand it will be at the higher price a lot of the time. So, for example if you really don’t want to buy supermarket own brand coffee, there’s almost certainly another coffee at a reduced price that is similar to your favourite.
Bring your own bags
Bags for life are now often sold at 30p. The idea is to encourage reuse and reducing plastic pollution. Many more people are doing this, but others only use bags for life bags once. Supermarkets are selling 1.5bn bags for life per year, or 54 a year for every UK household.
A bag might hold £20 worth of small grocery items, adding 1.5% to the cost. If buying higher value products such as wines, spirits or clothing, it will be less than that. Many people who are struggling to make ends meet are spending £200 – £300 ayear on carrier bags.
Drink from the tap
Bottled water costs 500 times more than tap water (in the USA it is 2000 times more expensive) although this varies between brands. The market for bottled water in the UK amounts to £2.4 bn. There may be a perception that bottled water is healthier. In fact the safety checks on tap water are far more stringent than for bottled water, and the UK has some of the safest tap water in the world.
There is some variation, with hard water in large parts of the south and east and soft water in Scotland and the north. Those who live close to treatment plants sometimes complain of the taste of chlorine in tap water.
There have been a number of blind tastings with mixed results, but generally they have shown that tap water doesn’t taste any worse or in many cases any different, to bottled water.
At least one major UK supermarkets supplier of bottled water is their local water company. We don’t know whether their bottled water is any different to the tap water or not.