Budget Living

Best Ways To Control Your Weekly Shopping Budget

Sticking to a shopping budget can be a daunting prospect, especially when you’ve got mouths to feed and are short on time to get up and down the aisles. You may well think there’s no way that you could change your food shop to make a difference to the amount of money left in your pocket, However, your food is one of the areas in which it’s likely you can make some changes, helping you to spend less and still maintain a healthy diet. We’re here to show you what you can do to save pounds, not just pennies.

1. Make A List & Plan Your Meals

Image of a shopping list

Making a shopping list helps to focus your mind while in the store, this keeps you on track by buying only what you need. Before you go grocery shopping make a mental note of household items you already have, so you don’t pick up unnecessary items. Planning your meals will also help you to save money on groceries. It not only will help fuel your shopping list, but also reduce the chances of impulse buys.

2. Don’t Shop When Hungry

Never shop when you’re hungry, it goes without saying but you’ll be more likely to pick up food you may not need to fancy at the time. If you make a list and stick to it, and make sure that you eat before you shop, you’ll be more sensible with what you put into your trolley.

3. Compare Prices

To help you shop on a budget, try comparing prices and sizes. Instead of reaching for the cheapest, where do you get the best deal for the size? The weight of the product should be on that container, if you get more food for less the price, go for that one as it will last longer. For example, sometimes buying in bulk – where possible, is a great deal. If you can’t buy in bulk, choosing the cheaper options or those which give you more for less price helps to save you money.

Related: 5 Affordable Alternatives That Are Better Than The Expensive Versions

4. Buy Own-Brands

Choosing named brands might be racking up your weekly food shop bills, as these can be more expensive. Opting for own-brand products is a great way to cut costs on your groceries. These usually are the cheapest options and just as good, if not better than the well-known brands. For some great examples of your own brands, check out our post on How To Save £1,000 By Making Simple Supermarket Switches.

5. Check Out The Reduced Sections

When it comes to saving on your food shop, the reduced sections are wonderful. Supermarkets will often have plenty of items reduced that are set to expire. Buying from the reduced section can help you shop on a budget as these items are a lot cheaper than their original price. The good thing about buying reduced is that the food usually lasts longer than its best-before date – and some can even be frozen to last months. Just remember, it’s only a bargain if you’re actually going to use it, so avoid buying anything just because it’s a deal.

6. Shop Around

A good way to shop on a budget is to shop around, instead of relying on certain shops or brands. Different shops have different prices, and deals. So going to grocery stores that you may not regularly go in might end up in a cheaper food shop that week. The only way to know this is to trail and shop around and compare prices for food that you regularly buy. This will give you a rough idea of who is cheaper. Try local smaller supermarkets as well to make sure that you’re not paying over the odds for any of your staple items.

7. Use Loyalty Schemes

Many supermarkets have loyalty schemes and Clubcards, make sure you take advantage of these when you can. Easy to sign up and have, supermarket Clubcard’s aim is to help you save money on your food shops. Where every time you shop you can earn points which in turn earn you coupons and money back on shops. Supermarket cardholders also can get frequent discounts on items. It’s good to have one for the supermarket you go to the most, but it won’t hurt to have one for each as well. Just remember to always have your Clubcard with you so you can use it for points.

8. Search For Coupons

Using coupons is a great way to shop on a budget. Some shops have coupons and deals in store, if they do, take advantage of this. If not, try searching for coupons online for your local supermarkets. There are a lot of websites offering coupons like Vouchercloud, which often have a list of discounts for the week ahead.

9. Shop Online

Choosing to do your weekly food shop online may help to cut costs on your groceries. Because you aren’t walking up and down aisles you are less likely to pick up things you might not need and stick to your list. But also, buying groceries online may be eligible for more discounts and deals than in-store. Most accounts will allow you to create a shopping list which you can save in the future, making it easier to avoid impulse buys.

10. Meat-Free Mondays

Reducing your meat consumption just one day a week can help you cut costs in your grocery shops as well as offer health and environmental benefits. Making vegetarian or vegan meals is often cheaper than their meat counterparts.  Unless you are choosing a meat substitute, such as meat-free chicken, which can be expensive. However, if you stick to the veg and shop around, it can help you save money, and offer delicious healthy meals too.

Read more: Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

11. Use your freezer and rely on leftovers

A great way to help save money on food shops is by batch cooking, using your freezer, and taking advantage of leftovers. Batch cooking is a great way to save money at the supermarket, these help to stretch the usage of foods and make meals last longer. For inspiration, check out our post on 5 Delicious And Cheap Meals You Can Batch Cook And Freeze.

By using your freezer, you can not only save meals for later but also help foods last longer by freezing it, instead of being in the fridge. Some foods that are about to expire will also last longer by freezing it. Or instead of throwing away food when you’ve made too much or you couldn’t eat a crumb more, package it up and save it for later. Freezing food keeps it fresh for up to a month or so, and it’s a lot more cost-effective to save any leftovers than to buy fresh food and start from scratch.

12. Use apps offering free or cheap food

There is a wide range of apps which help to eliminate food waste. Supermarket apps such as Olio and Too Good To Go offer unsold fresh food to pick up at the end of the day or allow food to be purchased at discounted rates to prevent it from being thrown away.

Fast food chains also may offer discounts and free food through apps and club memberships. Now this is ultimately to drive up mailing lists or sales, however, you can still get free food or deals when you register for these apps, and most even give a free birthday reward or discount.

Access your food shop spending

By following all our best tips, you should find it easier to cut costs on your groceries. Just make sure you make a list and stick to it, finding deals and discounts where possible and most importantly making sure food doesn’t go to waste by using that freezer. Every food shop or once a month look back and access what you’ve bought and what you’ve spent. This helps to gauge how much things are costing you, you can then see what you can cut out which will further help you save money on your food bills.

To help you shop on a budget, you should also check out our post about Supermarket Tricks And How To Avoid Them. Or for more great advice, we have lots of articles around Budget Living on our blog.