The weekly food shop. Yes, we say it’s a pain, but once we get to the supermarket and start strolling the aisles you have to admit, as chores go it’s not that bad. All that food! All those drinks! Look, they’re making a new cereal with marshmallow bits and fruity pieces AND chocolate. Need to snap up a box of that. And, oooohhh..what’s that?
And there you have the real problem people run into whenever they hit the supermarket. The average one has so much stuff on the shelves and in the fridges and freezers that it is so easy to overspend.
So while you might have decently stocked cupboards and a reasonably full fridge at the end of your shopping trip you probably also have less left in the bank than you intended. Which can get serious if the electric bill is due on Monday but payday is two weeks away…
Grocery shopping can be a real budget buster. But there are ways to save at the supermarket that will save you money and yet not see you starve. Here is a little about some of the most effective.
Don’t Go Shopping Right Before Teatime
Sounds silly? It’s not. Actual real scientific research has shown that people who grocery shop on an empty stomach are up to 40% more likely to overspend than those who shop on a full tummy. The hungrier you are the more likely it is that you will be tempted to buy food you really don’t need, just because some little gremlin in your brain is telling you to BUY FOOD NOW to satisfy your hunger.
If at all possible plan your weekly grocery shop for a weekend morning after you’ve eaten breakfast. That way you are far less likely to overspend and you might make healthier food choices as well.
Shop Around Before You Shop
Yes, it’s easy to go to the big supermarket right down the street from your house to do your weekly shop but do they actually offer the best prices? Supermarkets are becoming more and more competitive so it does often pay to shop around (for the best deals) before you shop.
Hit the Internet and spend a few minutes going through the online circulars from all of the supermarkets in your area. And don’t forget there is no rule that says you have to stick to supermarket shopping either. Sometimes a local butcher or fishmonger might be offering much better deals than Tesco, you just have to take the time to look and find out.
Premade dinners are easier to cook but they are also often more expensive than cooking a meal from scratch yourself. But we do get it, cooking can be a real pain and you never seem to have what you need on hand anyway.
One way, however, you can prevent that inconvenience and save money is to ensure that you stock up on the basics that will help you prepare lots of different meals. This store cupboard essentials list from Jamie Oliver is a good one to print out and keep handy when making your shopping list.
Shop with a List
Speaking of lists, making sure you shop with one is a must if you want to save money. Resolve to stick to your list and refuse to be tempted to buy anything not on it and you’ll find you may save far more than you expect.
For easier, more efficient list make use of the power of your mobile. Every time you think of something you need to add to your list tell Siri/Alexa/Google Assistant/Bixby or one of the other growing number of AI assistants and they can all make – and store – the list for you.
This also offers the added advantage of making sure you actually take your list to the shops. You might forget a little bit of paper but it’s highly unlikely you’ll forget your phone.
The days of clipping paper coupons that you then have to stuff in a wallet are almost over. All of the big supermarket chains ofter digital couponing and most smaller food shops are starting to as well. Couponing really can save you a ton of money and thanks to digital coupons you won’t have to face the embarrassment of holding up the queue to use them or carry one of those funny little coupon wallets ever again.
And on a final note, if you ever do go a little wild and find you spent so much at the supermarket that you left yourself very short for the rest of the week a short-term loan, used responsibly, may be the helping hand you need.