Saving Money on Groceries – Money Matters

August 23, 2012

In our last article, we looked at creating a monthly budget, this week we will suggest ways that a family of four could save a considerable sum each month on their monthly food bills.

Planning your grocery shopping can make a huge difference to your bank balance. Did you know that around £600 worth of food is thrown out by the average family each year?   Common pitfalls include throwing out food that is past its sell by date, but not past its usability, buying ‘good deals’ for the sake of it and getting enticed by special offers.

Proper planning when food shopping could save families tens of pounds, if not hundreds, every month.   Create a monthly food planner and stick to it.  If you are not sure where to start lots of the supermarkets offer example plans on their websites. When planning the week’s shopping and meals consider how you could make one ingredient cover multiple meals to avoid wastage.  If not, can you freeze excess ingredients or leftovers to eat next week?  These things are very easy to do and will have an immediate impact on your expenditure.

At the supermarket, grocery store or market, stick to your list!  Don’t get tempted by special offers that you don’t need for your meal plan.  Some people find this easier to do by getting their shopping from traditional shops like the greengrocers and butchers or by shopping online.

Where possible why not try own brand products? Many taste very similar to big brand names and are considerably better value.  Own brand tea bags cost approximately £2.47 compared to an equivalent branded version at £3.88 – a saving of 36%. Swapping branded cornflakes for own brand could save 40%.  Preparing a beans on toast snack from own brand products would set you back around 23p per person. The same snack would cost 45p using branded products – very nearly double.

If you swapped down to own brand products for a quarter of your shopping, based on an average weekly shop for a family of four at £100 you could save around £10 per week.  Even more savings could be found if you switched to the value brands.

Make sure you plan for meals and snacks away from the home when writing your meal planner and shopping list.  You could cook extra and take the leftovers into work or prepare your own sandwiches.  If you have a penchant for buying bottled water or soft drinks, take chilled tap water or squash from home instead.  An average shop bought sandwich and drink will cost £3 per day.  Preparing the same at home is likely to save at least £2 of that.  Over a 20 working day month this would save £40 per person.

This is also true of the children’s packed lunches.  Supermarkets make tons of money by offering parents ‘easy solutions’ to packed lunches.  For example a pre-packed ham, cheese and crackers snack, a bag of fruit and a drink could set you back around £2.50 per day.  A home-made sandwich, drink and an apple would cost much less.

Just by implementing these simple measures a family of four could save as much as £195 per month on food, helping you to get your budget back in control.