Monday, 21 January 2013

15 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill (The £50 a week budget)

For the past 2 years our little family has been successfully living off of a household budget of just £50 per week. Here are the things we do and don't include in this £50 budget. I did a little series on the £50 budget last year, it proved to be popular so I'm going to expand it over the next few weeks.

I'm starting with our biggest weekly expenditure:


Our weekly grocery shop averages £25 per week, here are 15 ways we manage to keep it low.
  • Go grocery shopping just once a week. 
  • Tidy your fridge, freezer and pantry when you make your shopping list. Know what you already have, how much space you have, and buy appropriately.
  • Sit down and plan your meals for the week. Do this a day before you go shopping. Plan to use up any perishables you already have in the house.
  • Every now and then try to have a week with no grocery shop, use up tins and packets from the cupboard, things from the freezer, etc. When we do this we still sometimes have to buy fresh milk, fruit, veg and bread.
  • Know what you can freeze: extra milk and bread can be frozen for later in the week. Meat can be easily frozen. Some cream and cheese can be frozen, and some fruit and veg if it is prepared first.
  • Work out when your local supermarket starts reducing their produce (usually about 7.30pm) You can get real bargains this way - fruit and veg often keeps for much longer than the date on the pack, dairy can often be frozen, and any bakery products will freeze well for a few weeks.
  • Downgrade to supermarket own bargain brands - this takes some trial and error but for many purchases it can cut costs by more than 50%. You won't always like the taste, or you won't always get the same cleaning power, but you might find the only difference is the price.
I have never found a tomato soup that's as good as Heinz.
But kidney beans are kidney beans. whether they cost 19p or 79p a tin.
  • Multi buys or bulk buys are rarely worth the cost and it is easy to buy too much. I'm not saying avoid them, but always check the true value, and compare with other available brands.
  • Use your vouchers - these can back-fire much the same as bulk buying can, but be sure to use them when appropriate. If you have a 'save £4 when you spend £40' don't be afraid to run back from the checkout and grab an extra something to push you over the £40 limit (pick something that won't perish, like shampoo)
  • Split your shopping list over a few stores if that makes the most of low prices or special offers - We make special occasional trips to Lidl to bulk buy olive oil,  pepperoni, passata, fresh orange juice and some toiletries. We take a trip to a chinese cash and carry a few times a year to stock up on the cheap spices and other exotic ingredients.
    Our hoard of spices from the chinese cash and carry. Super cheap and just as tasty.
  • Check best before dates, try to get the best shelf life - sometimes checking the back of the shelf to get a later 'use by' date.
  • Try to build up an idea of how much you should be paying for items. I know a 500ml tub of olive spread should cost no more than £1, 500ml shampoo no more than 80p, a carton of passata 40p, etc. Pay attention to what you pay for your staples.
  • When shopping check individual shelf-front lables for prices per 100ml (or do the maths yourself) sometimes the smaller packet is cheaper, or the glass jar cheaper than the squeezy bottle. Loose fruit and veg is usually cheaper than pre-packed but not always.
  • Don't buy chocolate, crisps, fizzy juice, alcohol  except on very special occasions, I know this one is harsh but it is simple : in general these things aren't good for you anyway and it is better to have less temptation in the house, just say no.
If you can follow these tips you will never be buying too much, never be throwing good food out and cutting your grocery bill straight away.

I hope you like these tips. Next week I'm going to share a few ways to save money when cooking, and tips on how to plan cheaper and healthier meals.

Have you spotted any tips I have missed? leave a comment below.

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