While it would be nice to save 100% of your income, some expenses are unavoidable for most of us. You need to have a roof above your head and you need to eat. Costs for this can vary dramatically and depend on a variety of factors. The good news is that you are able to influence the majority of these factors. For example, with a few easy tips that you can implement today, you can cut your grocery bill in half and live more frugally.
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The 8 steps you can take today to cut your grocery bill in half
1. Switch supermarkets
This may sound obvious, but how many of us choose a supermarket based on its location? I am talking about the Co-op around the corner and the Little Waitrose you pass on your commute. As for me, I thought I was quite aware of the cost savings associated with shopping at cheaper supermarkets. Hence, I did most of my food shopping at ASDA. However, recently, a new ALDI opened not far away from my local ASDA and I was surprised that I can save around £10.00 each week by shopping there. Notably, I am gluten intolerant and therefore, I still have to go to ASDA. Hopefully, ALDI will introduce a gluten-free range soon!
If you are unsure which supermarket is cheapest for your personal needs, I recommend searching at mysupermarket.com. You simply choose a product and MySupermarket will tell you where to go for the cheapest price.
2. Do one weekly shop
This is an advice you commonly read, because it is as simple as it is effective. Rather than mindlessly grabbing the nearest item because you crave it, sit down and make a list. Stick to this list and you can leave your wallet at home for the remainder of the week because you will have everything you need. If you have to take some money with you, take exactly the amount you need so you will not be tempted to buy rubbish. I also always keep £10.00 on me for emergencies.
In terms of when to do your weekly shop, evenings appear to be bests as many foods are discounted, especially on Sundays. You may also want to go after you have eaten. I think it is the oldest trick in the world to reduce unnecessary spending as when you are hungry, everything looks delicious.
3. Take advantage of cashback and coupons
Cashback allows for substantial savings when grocery shopping. Before I venture out to the supermarket, I always check my three cashback apps: Shopmium, GreenJinn and CheckOutSmart. If you sign-up to Shopmium with the code q2766a, you will also get a free Nutella jar. There are many other ways to earn cashback and you can find out about them right here.
Couponing is another popular method that helps to cut your grocery bill in half. Coupons can be found in newspapers, supermarket magazines or online. Using them, you will get a certain amount off specific items or you may buy one item and get another for free. With extreme couponing alone, you could easily cut your grocery bill in half.
Taking couponing to the extreme takes considerable time and effort. Time and effort you can spend on more lucrative side hustles. However, some coupons can easily be found in free supermarket magazines, on the product itself , as junk mail in your letter box, or online. A little bit here and there will add up quickly, especially if combined with the other methods listed in this post.
4. Buy non-branded and discounted items
This may seem like a no-brainer but many people do underestimate how much money can be saved this way. In this supermarket, look at the shelves at the bottom and at the top. You can make it a rule to never pick anything from the middle shelves, those on eye level and slightly below. This is where supermarkets put the most expensive items as it is easy to just grab them.
You may also want to look for the “sale” section. Most supermarkets have section for food items near expiry date and damaged goods. It is usually not somewhere prominent so you may have to look around a bit or ask the staff.
Lastly, think about the timing of your shopping. In the evenings, you will find that many supermarkets reduce their products, most commonly fruits and vegetables and baked goods.
5. Sign-up to shop groceries online
Many supermarkets offer online shopping with delivery and self-pick-up options. Some, like Ocado, are entirely online based. Whether or not there is a physical store, most offer generous sign-up offers. Ocado, for example, offers £20 off an £80 shop. If you sign-up online to all major supermarkets, you should be able to save a considerable amount of money.
6. Assess your needs
There is no point in buying items you do not need. I am particularly guilty of this one as I tend to buy more food than I can eat. I am probably not the only one who thinks it would be nice to make a pizza from scratch but never has the time to do so. Equally, you may aim to become healthier and buy tons of fruit and vegetables–only to find them going off at home. Making a meal plan can help with this! Plan ahead what you want to eat for a week and if you skip a meal (due to eating out etc), pop it into the freezer. Fruits and vegetables can also be frozen if you do not manage to use them. Frozen fruits/vegetables can be delicious ingredients for smoothies.
There are other areas with huge saving potentials. For a lot of products, you can just reduce their consumption by 50%, which will automatically cut your grocery bill in half. For example, as study found that you can clean your teeth perfectly fine without toothpaste or wash yourself without shower gel. I am not suggesting to complete remove these products (although you can), but you are probably using more than necessary at the moment.
Following the same concept, a lot of product use can be reduced in your kitchen. We all know that too much salt is bad so why not half your use of it? This will help your wallet and your health! Have a look at your kitchen items and you can probably find other products like salt. Oil or sugar, for example.
7. Know when to buy organic
The term “organic” means you pay a premium fee on fresh products to be assured that no artificial fertilizers or pesticides have been used. Whether or not there are any benefits to organic foods is still subject to debate. Studies are inconclusive with some reporting increased nutrient levels and other reporting no effect. Generally, this may mean that if there is any benefit, it may be small.
Personally, I buy any food item that is on the Dirty Dozen list as organic, and anything else normally. The Dirty Dozen list comprises the foods with the highest amount of pesticides and is published by the Environmental Working Group. Following this strategy, you will reduce your exposure to pesticides while also reducing the burden on your wallet.
8. Adjust your diet
It has become common knowledge that a vegetarian diet is cheaper than consuming meat. But is it really true? The answer is no. “Being vegetarian” is a broad term and comprises a range of eating behaviours. If you buy highly processed meat alternatives (“meat-free burgers” etc), you may find yourself spending more than a traditional meat eater.
On the other hand, cooking yourself and preparing meat-free burgers and the like from scratch will likely be cheaper than cooking and consuming meat. However, if you are currently enjoying eating meat, there is no need to convert to a vegetarian lifestyle. By shopping smartly and following the ideas presented in this post, you will probably save more than your meat-eating peers. You can also always follow point 6 and reduce your meat consumption.
How to cut your grocery bill in half summary
Below I have summarised the main points. I recommend printing this list and putting it somewhere visible or saving a copy on your phone. It is difficult to change your habits and having a visible reminder will be helpful while you are adjusting.
- Switch supermarkets
- Do one weekly shop
- Take advantage of cashback and coupons
- Buy non-branded and discounted items
- Sign-up to shop groceries online
- Assess your needs
- Know when to buy organic
- Adjust your diet
If you are unsure whether you need to buy a certain item, you can consult my interactive Should you buy it? flowchart to make the decision for you.
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