Here are top UK shopping tips that should help your valet in these hard economic times.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry. You’ll end up buying foods you don’t need which can spell disaster for your waistline and pocket.
Experiment with cheaper alternatives. Often you will not be able to tell the difference between premium branded products and economy alternatives. There is very little to justify any kind of price difference in basics such as salt, sugar, milk, flour and butter. Therefore buy the economy brand and you will lose nothing. Set a reasonable weekly shopping budget. Once you get used to the idea of having a budget you can keep improving on it.
Write out your shopping list and make sure to stick to it. Plan your meals for the week and write your shopping list accordingly. Organize your list according to the layout of the supermarket. This will save you time and reduce the temptation to buy foods not on your list.
Trade down. We all have brands that we won’t swap but why not try trading down for those products you aren’t bothered about. You can try the supermarket own brand or, better still, swap to their cheap range.
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Shop when products are reduced. Most stores will cut prices on their perishable foodstuffs near the end of the day. Go shopping an hour or two before the store closes – you can often pick up some great bargains. The best products to look out for are bread, fruit and vegetables and chilled foods. Most large supermarkets have discounted food trolleys and ‘deals of the week’. The food may be discounted but it is still perfectly good to eat.
Buy the right foods in bulk. Don’t stock up on perishable items that won’t be used, like milk. But look out for one-free deals on store-cupboard staples like dried pasta, rice and tinned products.
Make your own rather than opting for ready made. Many meals are cheaper to make from scratch and shopping for generic foods rather than pre-packaged, processed foods is much more efficient. Make your own Chinese stir fry or pizza rather than getting a take away or buying the expensive readymade versions.
Think in Season. Help mother earth and choose seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible and then you can prepare dishes that will make the most of these.
Use your leftovers. They can be put to good use in casseroles, stir fry, soups, for snacks and in lunch boxes.
Grow your own. Start your own vegetable patch and if you get on with your neighbor perhaps run it together.
Economy packs of fruit and vegetables are often the ones which were either too small, too large or misshapen to get into the standard packs. There is no difference in freshness or quality.
Buy dried pasta, not fresh. The quality will be the same and will able to get that al dente effect. Shop around for the most reasonably-priced dried pasta – as with most things, there is a huge price difference between branded and supermarket own-branded. The only time I would recommend fresh pasta would be for lasagna as it significantly reduces cooking time.
Have you noticed how expensive boxed cereals are? Porridge oats are far cheaper, contain no added sugar or salt, and are nutritionally superior.
Frozen is often significantly cheaper than fresh, particularly when it comes to fish.
Rice is a much cheaper alternative to pasta and can be flavored by boiling in stock rather than water.
It is more cost effective and will save time to make a large amount and eat it over two days. Flavor can significantly improve overnight. Invest in some small Tupperware so that you can also freeze portions.
What is the price per? Brush up your mental arithmetic before going shopping. Supermarkets like to confound shoppers by pricing some goods by the 100g measure and some by the kg to make comparisons more tricky.
Swap shop. Swap money-off codes with your friends to save on internet shopping
Don’t be an early bird. Go later in the day to the supermarket when there’s more chance of food being reduced in price
Weights and measures. What looks like a bargain at the supermarket may just be cunning packaging. Always check the weight.
BOGOF. Take advantage of bulk buys and 2 for 1 discounts when buying things that won’t go off like store cupboard staples and bathroom and kitchen cleaning equipment.
Loyalty pays. If you do have a store loyalty card – save up your points for Christmas gifts.
Next generation. Teach your kids to be savvy shoppers – do taste tests at home comparing premium brands with supermarket own to show them how to save money.
Cash and carry. Go cash and carry shopping with a friend, or join a group and share out the benefits of bulk shopping between you.
Take the discount. Take advantage of money-off store card discounts when you’re buying something expensive – but beware – pay the initial bill straightaway and cut the card up as soon as it arrives.
If you don’t do your grocery shopping online then do it at night if you can as supermarkets such as ASDA or Tesco often reduce the price of food like bread, milk or cakes at the end of the day to make sure they sell it .
Invest in a flask to stop you having to call at coffee shops where a cup of coffee could end up costing you around 2 a cup!
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