a food shop that doesn't break the bank.
Updated: Feb 23
Food shopping isn’t something that tends to cross your mind until you move out. Usually performed by a parent or guardian, the stresses of budgeting and meal planning are not what you have experienced before. Until now.
Knowing what foods to buy, how to eat healthily whilst not spending a fortune, can be a challenge. So we've done it for you.
As a student or someone who has recently left home, chances are you're on a budget. This means you won’t have the opportunity to bulk buy food for cheap and then freeze it. Bulk buying is cheaper in the long run but can put a hefty dent in your pocket, potentially leaving you with no money for the rest of the month. Bulk buying also implies you have room in your freezer, but if you’re in shared accommodation, I can assure you that you probably don’t.
location is key.
One of the most important factors for buying within a budget is location. Aldi and Lidl should become your new best friends. Avoid more lavish, expensive supermarkets such as Waitrose or Marks & Spencer, as you may find yourself paying double your normal weekly shop for the same food!
Lidl runs a great scheme called ‘Pick of the Week’ where selected foods are reduced for one week only. These reduced foods change weekly, so make sure to check which ones are in the deal! These discounted foods always include very cheap fruit and veg, meat and not to mention, wine – perfect for hosting a dinner party, or for a cheap pre-drink before the club. Aldi also does a similar deal, called the ‘Super 6’ where six selected fruit and veg are significantly reduced.
If expensive supermarkets are all you have nearby, try getting the bus to a discount store. Whilst you will be coughing up a few pounds to get there, the chances are this will still be cheaper than shopping at expensive supermarkets.
If you don’t have the option to get a bus, or can’t travel at all, then you will need to be flexible. Even expensive supermarkets will make food reductions throughout the day, where produce which is damaged or has a short shelf life becomes significantly cheaper. These reductions always start mid-afternoon but differ slightly between each supermarket. You can expect to see around 50% off the marked price at 3 pm, with prices dropping around 75% at 5 pm. Just keep an eye out for items with red or yellow labels, as these always mean money off!
ditch the brands.
Whilst treating yourself to the occasional bar of Cadbury's, or your favourite beans brand is Heinz is perfectly okay, don’t go over the top on branded items.
Branded items can often be significantly more money than its supermarket-value competitors, but when it comes down to certain items, there’s practically no difference between the branded and un-branded ingredients!
Cereal is an excellent example of branded vs. un-branded having a large price difference. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies comes in at £2.90 for a 17 serving box (that’s 17p a serving). Whilst Tesco Rice Snaps comes in at only 65p for a 12 serving box (which is just over 5p a serving!). Whilst these differences seem minimal, all the pennies add up. A year of eating Kellogg’s Rice Krispies would cost you £62.26, whilst a year of eating Tesco’s Rice Snaps cost a mere £19.77. That’s a total saving of £42.50 a year if you swap to un-branded – and that’s just a cereal swap!
Sometimes you have food, but no idea what to make. Luckily, there is a website that can decide for you. SuperCook is designed to plan your dinner for you, with the ingredients already in your fridge! Simply put in every ingredient you have, and it will tell you what you can make – plus it’ll give you the recipe (for free!). These recipes can be put on by anyone, so be sure to read the reviews, but they can be used as a loose guide for some tasty meals!
I still swear by this website and have found it also gives you a little inspiration when you’re feeling lost on what to cook, or simply don’t want to leave the house. As long as you have a few kitchen staples, a couple of spices, and maybe a piece of veg or two, you’re good to go!
How do you save money on a food shop?
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