How to save money on your weekly shop
Posted on January 25, 2019
Cutting down how much you spend on food and household products is a top tip on many financial and savings blogs. We have listed the best ideas and some from our team at head office, to help you save money on your weekly shop.
Make a plan not just a list
Sitting down before you do the weekly shop with the calendar and making a weekly plan of what meals you need for the week, can help you create a budget-friendly weekly shop. Looking at the calendar helps you make a workable plan so you know who’s in for dinner on what night. Remember to consider how you will feel, will you just want something quick before gym class? Or is a friend coming over for dinner?
Check your cupboards and only put down what you need for the week on the list. If you want to cook Spaghetti Bolognese on Saturday, do you already have a tin of tomatoes in the cupboard? No need to buy pasta sauce for the mince!
There are loads of cheap and easy recipes online and meal plan ideas that help you use up all the ingredients you buy. Look at these before you write your shopping list and meal plan. Can you finish over the broccoli from Monday night’s sausage & mash it with quick stir fry on Thursday?
Timing your shop
Not going shopping hungry and sticking to the list have been key tips on keeping your spending low for years, but also looking at the day you go shopping can help. Can you work into your week a better day/time so you have time to write the list and meal plan? And sticking to doing the household shop once a week, can help reduce “I only popped in for a few bits” shops that cost £20+!
The time of the day can also affect how much your household spend is each week, if you are able to shop in the evenings, looking at the reduced section for items you would have bought anyway can help bring down the cost. It is important to weigh up if you really need/are going to use an item in the reduced section. This can be where a ready meal that you were not going to buy, reduced by 70% can still cost more than the chicken Kyiv and chips you were going to have. Buying meat you can freeze once you get home can provide a saving if you would use it anyway.
The Freezer is your friend
Cooking up double-size curries, casseroles or pasta sauces and popping either a few one-person portions or full household portions in the freezer, not only helps for cheap easy dinners when just cooking for one but also on the nights when you just want something quick to eat. You can defrost them straight into the pan. Just make sure they are boiling before serving and cooled properly before freezing. There are loads of freezer-friendly recipes online and many people say they taste even better after being frozen!
When doing the weekly shop buy enough bread and milk for the week. Milk normally has a week’s date on it and can be kept in the fridge. If you are low on space milk can be frozen and taken out when needed. You can also put bread in the freezer and take it out halfway through the week. This can help stop you from popping into the shop for bread and makes sure you have fresh bread for the week. Don’t panic if you forget to take it out the night before you need it, bread can be defrosted in the microwave in 5-10 seconds!
When low on time and energy cooking from frozen, fish or chicken with oven chips can be just as easy and takes the same time to cook as getting a takeaway delivered. Having a backup dinner like this in your freezer can also stop you popping the shop for dinner that night.
Freezing leftover mash potato can sound a bit much, but freezing your leftover mash and reheating in the microwave, is a great way to reduce waste and save money. Frozen veg is another way to not only save money as it can be cheaper but also help to reduce waste, as you can just cook what you need, whether that is for one person or more.
Less waste, it all adds up
Getting the scales out to weigh out portions can seem like you are on a diet, but just weighing out the right amount of rice or pasta before you put it in the pan can help make a cheap staple go even further.
Looking at what goes in the bin is another way to reduce your wastage and household spending. For example, if you find you are regularly throwing out overripe fruit or veg, buying smaller amounts can help. Buy only three instead of six bananas or apples one week, and satsumas the next can help use up what’s in the fruit bowl and reduce your spending over a year.
Use it up
Leftover dinner, the day before your weekly shop can also be a cheap way to create a meal. Can you make dinner from what is left over? Looking through your fridge and using up items can save you money and reduce your wastage. Pasta with leftover bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes is a cheap and easy dinner.
It’s tempting when in a rush to just throw away the remaining butter in the tub or conditioner in the bottle and start the next one. It’s a small thing, but over a year it can add up.
Try the alternative
It is a double-edged sword when trying out lower-cost loo roll, ketchup or any item in your household shop, it could save you loads in the long run, but you might not like the alternative and struggle to use it. Try getting the smallest size of the cheaper alternative, this can help reduce wastage or the length of time you have to use it up if you don’t like it. Trying at least three cheaper alternatives per shop can start the ball rolling.
Luxuries you cannot live without
Keep an eye out for half-price offers on essentials you cannot live without. Is your preferred mayo on offer? Buy two! Buying your preferred brands on offer can save you money but can be a false economy if you already have three in the cupboard, or you are only making a small saving with the offer. Stick to half price only on the brands you really can’t live without and always compare the price on tempting offers. If you were not planning on buying it, are you really making a savings?
Not just food
When reviewing your household spending looking at all the other items in your trolley can be another area you can make savings. Can you buy a cheaper handwash or all use the same shampoo? Swapping to own brand household cleaning products or looking for products that do more than one job, can help bring the cost of non-food items down.
Changing how you shop can be daunting and it doesn’t always go to plan. There will be times when you don’t have time to do a meal plan or go over budget but keeping track of all your positive improvements will help motivate you to keep going when life gets in the way. Looking at your receipt and looking to see if there were any items you could have not bought, can help refocus your resolve. Remember when you have a review, to highlight the savings you have made and adjust your budget to show the positive impact of the changes you have made, this can help spur you on.