The average family in the UK can spend almost £60 per week on food shopping alone, but there are loads of resources out there to help you reduce your shopping bill without having to sacrifice taste or nutrition.
Smart Shopping Tips
In the Supermarket
- Always write a list. It can be easy to buy more than you need once you’re walking through the shop. If you take a list with exactly what you need, you’ll be less likely to go outside your budget – or end up wasting food!
- Shop while the kids are at school. It’s often easier to go shopping without your kids, as many more expensive products are marketed at them, which means they can put pressure on you to buy them certain brands when own brand foods are just as good.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Shopping when you’re hungry has been proven to increase the likelihood of you buying more than you actually need, so try to make sure you’ve had a meal or a snack close to the time you go shopping.
- Look at the price per gram/kilogram to compare value. Even if some items have a cheaper price tag, it’s worth checking the price per gram/kilogram part of the label to see if you’re really getting value for money.
- Scan as you shop. Many supermarkets now offer the ‘scan as you shop’ facility, which allows you to scan items using a handheld device as you pick them up. This helps you keep track of your spending by showing you the total value of your basket.
- Don’t always buy deals. Supermarkets often have goods on a buy two get on free offer, but if you don’t need two to begin with, paying extra and getting a free third one will mean you end up with loads of food you don’t necessarily want.
- Shop at cheaper supermarkets or local markets. Supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi are well-known for being cheaper alternatives to leading supermarkets. They and local markets can stock different versions of branded goods for a much lower price.
- Plan your meals for the week. Try to write out what you’d like to eat for your meals and snacks before you go shopping each week and only buy the ingredients you need to make them. This way, you won’t have to deal with food going out of date before you can use it. You can use the meal planner on our Cheap Eats page to help you.
- Bulk buy dry goods. Food like rice, pasta, lentils and other dried goods can be stored for a long time without you having to worry about them going off. If you buy them in bulk, you won’t need to buy more each week and you’ll usually pay less per gram for a large bag.
- Buy reduced goods and freeze them. A lot of food and drink is reduced because it’s not going to last beyond the end of the day, however if you can freeze it, it can last a lot longer. Just make sure to consume it on the day you’ve defrosted it.
- Save your leftovers. Try to avoid throwing away leftovers. Instead, use them for snacks or lunches – or you can even make them into completely new meals, like bubble and squeak!
- Shop online. If you’re buying a lot, it can be cheaper to order your shopping online and have it delivered. The delivery fee is often less than what you’d have to pay for a taxi, or even a bus, and it’s much easier to keep track of how much you’re spending.
- Use vouchers or coupons. There are many websites, such as moneysupermarket.com, which give you access vouchers, so it’s worth having a look through some of the deals you might be able to get. Just remember not to buy if you don’t need it!
You can also sign up for a free loyalty card in most supermarkets and collect points from your shopping, whether online or in the shop itself. These can later be redeemed for coupons or money off.
- Compare supermarket prices from home. Websites such as My Supermarket or supermarket.co.uk allow you to compare the prices of goods between supermarkets from home, so you can decide where is best for you to shop.
Supermarket Price Reduction Timetable
Supermarkets often sell off items at reduced prices at certain times of the day or evening. It’s worth fitting your shop around these times to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
|Supermarket||Up to 25% off||Up to 50% off||Up to 75% off|
|The Cooperative Food||8am||5pm||7pm|
It’s much cheaper to cook your own meals than to buy read-made ones, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. There are loads of websites offering cheap recipes out there, such as Cooking on a Bootstrap by Jack Munroe, BBC Goodfood, Good to Know, All Recipes, and Net Mums.
You can find techniques, such as how to knead bread, on Youtube tutorials.
If you’ve never cooked before, Pennywise often take part in leading cookery workshops which you can keep up to date with by checking our calendar or the events section of our Facebook page.
If you use our meal planner, you can plan out meals you feel comfortable making, or try to challenge yourself to try something new every so often. Knowing what you want to make in advance means you can try cooking in batches, so you can cook just once or twice a week, then store all of your meals in your fridge or freezer. This can also save you money on your gas and electric bill.
If you want to learn how to make cheap, nutritious meals, there are several cookery workshops taking place around Bristol that can show you how.
Pennywise has been running cookery workshops at schools and children’s centres, where you can learn how to make meals such as soup with fresh bread. These have been a huge hit with parents, who were able to learn new cookery skills while their children were either in school or looked after in creches.
There are other affordable cookery workshops in Bristol, including the Knowle West Health Association Community Kitchen, who host cooking classes for children, teenagers and adults from as little as £1.50 per person. No.10 The People’s Kitchen regularly hold cookery classes on a range of topics, including cooking nutritious meals and even how to cook on a barbecue for as little as £1.50 per person. Community Learning by the Bristol City Council offers affordable courses for adults with few or no qualifications to give them important skills for life and work, including food safety courses.
The Council also provide Adult Learning cookery courses and, although these can be more expensive, they cover a wide range of skills including gluten free and vegetarian cooking.