With temptations lurking around every aisle, food shopping can be a little daunting; however rather than living in distress of making your way through the treacherous territory of the supermarket, here are a few tips to ensure your supermarket survival!
Do plan your meals beforehand
This is a key rule to stop those pesky, unnecessary impulse buys – we’ve all been there. Somehow I ended up with a Thomas the Tank Engine ‘Best Friends’ cupcake kit, just because it had blue icing (justification: they were amazing). Nonetheless, making a weekly meal plan and taking a shopping list with you is an efficient way to ensure you’re not wasting money, and it reduces your food wastage. It still allows you room to treat yourself as well without going over-budget! A tip to also remember as you’re making your lists is to take note as to what you’ve already got in your cupboards, this will stop you having three of what you don’t necessarily need.
Do set a weekly budget
By doing this, you know how much you’re limited to spend without going over and leaving yourself bankrupt for the rest of the month. If you’re nervous about going over your allocated budget, take cash with you and leave your card at home; also some stores offer self-scanners which you can take around the store with you scanning your shopping as you go, so you’ve got a constant idea on how much you’ve spent. I’ve found this rule so efficient and effective when it comes to food shopping, as whatever I don’t spend out of my budget, I set away into savings which I can then fall back on if anything pops up or to treat myself with.
Do shop at the right time
Weekends are usually the busiest point of the week for food shopping, this means the influx of more people leads to frustration, distractions and the ultimate trolley standoffs, especially a Sunday afternoon – that is a dangerous battlefield. For a quieter, calmer experience try shopping in the morning during weekdays; yet if you’re looking to save a bit of money and get a bargain, 24-hour stores usually start their reductions at 7pm, other stores usually begin an hour before closing.
Do take advantage of loyalty cards
Many supermarkets will offer loyalty cards in which they offer points for every purchase you make; these are then totalled and can be later redeemed as vouchers for money off your future shops. Through these schemes, usually the companies will gather information on what you buy most frequently and sometimes send you coupons around those items; but they usually have a long expiry date so don’t feel pressured to buy things straight away unless you need them.
Do keep an open mind about ‘supermarket-own’ brands
By switching to a supermarket’s own branded products as an alternative to the ‘big-branded’ products, you will not only notice a difference on your shopping total but in many cases, the contents of these own brands have very similar tastes to that of the branded products and sometimes are even preferred to the ‘real’ version. Supermarkets are always refining recipes of their home brands, hence improving their flavours and textures which is another bonus; so, without compromising ingredients, you could be saving yourself some money when shopping.
Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach
Let’s be real, we’re all guilty of breaking this ‘golden rule’. I cannot confess how many times I’ve gone shopping on an empty stomach and ended up with 3 types of sushi, 4 types of rice cakes and a multitude of frozen Chinese selections from the party section. Because you’re adamant you’ll eat them when you get home or sometime in the week – you never do. So, having a small bite to eat before you head out is the key to ensuring your head will be making the decisions rather than your stomach.
Don’t forget to bring your own bags
Rather than using plastic bags, reusable bags are a great alternative in terms of durability. They are more sturdy and reliable than a plastic bag you’d have to juggle because it’s been over-filled and the handle snaps before you are even half-way home. By bringing reusable bags, you are not only saving yourself money but also limiting the amount of non-renewable resources used to manufacture plastic bags and saving the environment from being infiltrated by non-biodegradable litter – little changes in our routines can make a massive impact on the damage done to the environment.
Don’t neglect your local market
There is nothing better than supporting your local agriculture, economy and farmers alike. By doing so you’re shopping more sustainably and reducing the usage of fossil fuels that come with transporting goods. You’re also consuming more organic foods, than that of a supermarket, that are grown specifically for your region and climate. Additionally, there’s usually a wide variety at local markets which are a lot cheaper to shop fresh fruit and veg – 3 punnets of strawberries for £1.50? How could you argue that!
Don’t buy non-grocery items at the supermarket
In most cases it is cheaper to buy non-food ‘essential’ items i.e. cleaning products, beauty/hygiene products from stores other than the supermarket. You’ll find that prices are better in places like ‘Wilko’, ‘B&M’ and pound stores as they have much better value than the average supermarket.