Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Thrifty Shopping Tips

How To Save Money On Your Weekly Grocery Shop

The price of our weekly shopping bill has sky rocketed in recent months.  Everyday essentials have tripled in price in some cases.  Home baking ingredients cost so much now that a once cheap alternative to buying ready made goodies has become a luxury.  With a family like mine, with multiple mouths to feed, I've had to make changes to the way I shop to maximize every penny.  Here are some of my top tips to thrifty shopping!

1:   Before implementing any thrifty changes to your shopping habits, have a store cupboard audit!  Check through your cupboards, pantry, freezer and fridge and take note of what you already have on the shelves.  There will be long forgotten tins, jars and packets languishing behind more recently purchased items.  This is their time to shine!!  After you have done your stock take, plan your menus around using up the older items.  Sell-by-dates have a bit of leeway, especially when you are dealing with cans, jars and dried foods.  Don't throw them away unnecessarily.  Planning meals around these forgotten items will almost definitely save you money on the weekly shopping bill, as you will only need to buy fresh produce for a few  week.   Your kitchen will also get a good sort out.  Get creative in the kitchen and have a bit of fun coming up with recipes which may go onto  become family favourites.  My use-up session lead me to invent "Shepherd's Pie with a Twist"  which basically saw me using up soya mince, tins of pulses, seasonings, tinned vegetables etc. and topping with a sweet potato and potato mash.  It's become a much requested dinner...although never to be identically repeated again!!  

2:  Look at the brands you buy.  Are you buying the most expensive top branded products?  If so you can save a fortune by doing a switch!  Most shops have an own brand label and increasingly also have an economy label.  Try them!  You may be surprised by the results.  My recent switches include:

Morrison's Economy Label
Strawberry Dessert Mix 10p
Mushy Peas 8p
Lemonade 17p
Long grain rice 1kg 40p
Batter Mix 7p

Tesco Value
Gravy Granules 20p
Veg Stock Cubes 12p
Kidney Beans 18p
Marmalade 17p

Comparing these prices against the top branded ones, you can see how much can be saved.  There are some economy products I've tried that do not match up to the top branded versions, but with the money saved from my other switches I can buy my Hellman's mayonnaise without feeling too guilty!

3:  Cleaning Products are expensive.  They may claim to make your surfaces gleam with a single spray but they rarely live up to their promises.  Economy Malt Vinegar costs just 13p.  Use it in a solution in a spray bottle and you have an effective cleaner, disinfectant, deodoriser and glass polish for pennies.  It really works and once dried doesn't smell at all so you won't end up with a house that smells like a chip shop!

4:  Pop to your local supermarket just before closing time.  Many products will be reduced for quick sale.  In my local Morrison's all the bread gets marked down to 9p.  I've packed my basket with loaves and rolls and paid less than a quid!  Baked goods freeze brilliantly and so we keep a couple of shelves dedicated to our 9p bread hauls which saves a fortune over the course of the week.  Beware of over zealous bargain can get very competitive!

5:  Look out for special offers and bogof's.  Be flexible with what you buy and use the cheap offers to tailor your week's menu planning.  Think of your shopping in terms of what meals they will lend themselves to so you don't buy anything you won't need.  You can even research the special offers in advance and make a list that you stick to to avoid getting it wrong!  Don't be seduced into buying something you don't really have a use for just because it's half price...if it ends up in the bin it's a waste!

6:  When you buy your weekly vegetables  (be it on offer in a supermarket or from a market stall) don't let them go to waste.  As it gets to the end of the week make a use-up dinner for all the perishable vegetables lurking in your fridge or pantry.

slow cooker, stew

A slow cooker veggie stew or soup is a perfect way of utilising carrots, leeks, potatoes, onions, swede, sweet potato and parsnips.  Any excess can be frozen.

7:  Make your own ready meals!!  Even when shop bought ready meals are sold cheaply, they are still an expensive way to feed a family.  It is so much cheaper to prepare your own to freeze for emergencies or for when a teenager needs a quick meal!  We've got a load of plastic lidded tubs that we use to pop in a portion of whatever I've made for dinner that night.  I usually make too much so we don't miss the extra portion being used in this way.  Freezing it then provides one free dinner later on in the week avoiding the need for those pricey, over-processed ready meals!

8:  Freshly made pizzas are really expensive in supermarkets but the kids love them.  Instead buy some own brand natural yogurt and economy plain flour.  You can use this to make your own fresh pizza dough.  Not only is making your own pizzas a fun activity to do with the kids, it can also be a very cheap meal idea!  Puree up a tin of economy plum tomatoes with a sprinkle of herbs instead of buying a shop bought sauce.  Top with whatever you've got  available and use some economy Mozzarella (42p in Morrison's) and a handful of DIY grated economy mild Cheddar.

pizza, cooking with kids

9:  Keep an eye out for coupons and discount codes.  They can really make a difference to shopping in store or online.  Many brands give away coupons via Facebook apps.  Sometimes you can even get a product for free.  Free is the best price ever!!  I love seeing the money coming off at the till when I hand over a handful of downloaded coupons!!

10:  Avoid 'popping to the shops' on a whim if you feel peckish or emotional.  Try to do a weekly shop and stick to that (with the exception of  an occasional closing time expedition if your local store slashes prices on perishable goods!).  It is so easy to pop out for something while feeling a bit needy and spend £20 on junk food!  A carrier bag full of cake, crisps and chocolate is not helpful to your waistline, your emotional state or your purse!!  

We have trimmed our shopping bills and are far more disciplined in our shopping habits by following these rules.  We are saving our money and taking more control over what we eat.  Even in the current economic climate and with prices soaring, you can make the most of your cash by being a thrifty shopper!

I'm entering this post into the Approved Foods/Tots100 competition and the Fabulous Thrifty Carnival where you will be able to pick up some thrifty tips from other money saving bloggers!!


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