How to cut back your grocery spend

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This is a guest post from the lovely Ruth at moneysavvymumuk.com. She runs a fabulous Instagram account too, so make sure that you follow her there too.

For most of us, the monthly grocery bill is one of our biggest expenses.  It is an area in which we can go over budget very quickly and can cause a huge amount of stress among families. But it is also an area in which huge savings can be made!

You can cut your grocery bill by making a few simple changes.

PLAN YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE

Planning your meals in advance is a great way to save money. It helps you to avoid impulse purchases and saves on food waste. Look at what food you already have in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer and plan your meals for the week ahead based around what you already have. Make a shopping list for the items you don’t have and try your best not to deviate from this list when you go shopping. Supermarkets use tricks to encourage spending and impulsive buying but if you keep focused on your list you won’t go wrong.

TRY OWN BRANDS

There is a lot of money to be saved by choosing to buy non-branded items over well-known brands. A lot of people think that ditching the labels means you are compromising on quality but, the reality is that a lot of non-branded foods are healthier than the well-known brands you may be used to. For example, Heinz ketchup contains 22.8g of sugar per 100g, whereas Tesco Everyday Value Ketchup contains just 13.4g of sugar per 100g. So not only are you saving money, but you could also be helping to improve your diet!

Just by swapping Alpro soya milk for Tesco own brand soya milk, I am able to save myself £390 per year. That’s just for one brand swap. Imagine how much you can saver over the course of a year if you swapped multiple items!

NEVER SHOP HUNGRY

When you’re hungry, high-calorie food is much more tempting, and you are therefore more likely to add snacks and treats to your trolly. Make sure you never head to the shops on a hungry tummy.

REDUCE YOUR MEAT CONSUMPTION

Many people have realised that significant savings can be made by replacing meat with vegetables and pulses, which are much, much cheaper. You could start by having one meat-free meal per week (meat-free Mondays). Instead of using minced beef when making a shepherd’s pie, try using green lentils. A tin of green lentils costs around 55p (dried green lentils are even cheaper), compared to a packet of minced beef at approximately £2.60 for 500g or £4.90 for 1kg.  As well as being cheaper, lentils and other pulses are healthier than red meat and more filling too, thereby reducing the occurrence of snacking after dinner.  But why stop at one meal a week? You could try two or three meat free meals? Over the course of the month, you will definitely notice the savings. If going meat-free seems like a step too far why not try adding some pulses to your meat dishes? This is a great way to bulk out dishes so that they go further.

CHECK OUT THE REDUCED ISLE

Yellow-sticker bargains, also known as Whoopsie deals, crop up when supermarkets gather food that is fast approaching its sell-by data and pop a yellow sticker on it, signifying a reduction in price. These reductions can be significant.

Years ago, I would never have been seen dead browsing the reduced aisle. I was far too ‘proud’, despite being a whopping £21k in debt. Now, I realise how ridiculous that was and you’ll often find me having a rummage around the yellow sticker items!

Research when your supermarket stocks up their reduced sections. They will usually do this at a similar time each day. These items often go quickly, so it pays to be prepared.

If buying reduced meat, freeze it and use it for the following weeks’ meal plan.

If buying fruit or veg, make sure you will be able to eat it within the next day or two as these items will have a very short shelf life.

Remember, don’t buy something just because it’s reduced. If you’re not going to use it there is no point in buying it.

Remember, when it comes to your grocery shop, it pays to be prepared. Keep your kitchen cupboards tidy and organised so that you know what food you already have at a glance. Plan your meals in advance.

Make a list of everyone’s favourite meals and rotate them over the course of the week or month. I have a couple of meal plan templates on my blog www.moneysavvymumuk.com, which will give you an idea of how they look. But it is very easy to make your own. Even a simple list will do!

The money you save on your food bill can now be used to pay down any debts or put towards savings.

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