Doing ‘the big shop’ can be a hefty part of our household budgets. The latest official data shows the average household spends almost £70 a week on groceries – but since that was published, food inflation has risen to 16.8% in the year to December 2022. Eating isn’t cheap so we’re all on the lookout for deals when filling our (real or virtual) supermarket trolley. But while discounts come and go, these smart shopping tips will save you money time and again. Here’s how to hack your grocery bills.
1. Follow the yellowsticker road
What time does your supermarket start marking down stuff that’s about to go out of date? Because that yellowsticker shelf is a treasure trove of heavily discounted food. Markdowns often get under way towards the end of the day, when shops want to shift the leftovers. But different supermarkets have different processes; some begin after the lunchtime rush. You could search online or ask local Facebook groups about the best time to bag bargains at a specific shop. Best of all, start a friendly conversation with a cashier and ask when the reductions start. That way you can be first in line.
2. Be clever with loyalty points
If your regular supermarket has a loyalty card and you’re not using it, then you don’t need this article; you need to get back to basics! Everyone should be using loyalty cards. Make sure you use your loyalty card every time, or register it to your app. That’s because a lot of supermarkets now offer specific discounts as you shop. Many products are half price or better with your loyalty card. But discounts aside, once you’ve earned any loyalty points don’t just fritter them away on your weekly shop. If you save them up to use on special events that increase their value, you can really see a benefit. Spend some time getting to understand the specific offers – Nectar points, for example, can be spent at hundreds of different retailers, from eBay to Argos.
3. Toothpaste lasts (so buy it cheap)
If you have the time and space to stock up on non-perishables like toothpaste, washing powder and shampoo then skip the supermarket entirely for those products. Head along to bargain stores and stock up there instead. At the time of writing, two 75ml tubes of Oral B White Toothpaste cost £3.49 at B&M, while they’ll set you back £5 at many leading supermarkets.
4. Find the cheapest store – for you
The easiest way to bring down your bills is to find the cheapest supermarket. Consumer organisation Which? says that in 2022 Aldi was the cheapest overall, closely followed by Lidl – but that doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest shop for you. Visit comparison sites such as Trolley.co.uk to work out where your most expensive products are actually cheapest. Factor in fuel (you won’t save much by driving to the next county) and you could potentially save a decent chunk off your supermarket trip. A quick heads-up – small convenience stores are almost always more expensive, so head for a big supermarket if possible.
5. Know how to shop
Some people spend more by visiting the shop every day, while others find a daily trip cuts down on waste. Maybe you’ll spend less by online shopping because it reduces the temptation to add things you don’t need to your trolley – or maybe you’d spend less in store, because it’s easier to browse the bargains. Think about how you shop, how you spend and then shop in the way that cuts your unnecessary spending and saves you the most money.
6. Trade down a notch
If you buy premium brands, it’s very simple to save money by switching down to supermarket own-brand. If you already buy the supermarket stuff, try trading down to the economy offer. This can save you tens of pounds a week. To be fair, you may not like every different product you try (the cheapest bin bags, for example, can shred like tissue paper). But in a cost-of-living crisis, trying cheaper products is a great way to significantly cut your grocery bills without having to shrink meals.
7. Behave like a business
If you run your home like a business, it’s possible to dramatically cut down on food waste as well as significantly reducing your spending at the supermarket. If you were a professional kitchen, you wouldn’t just wander around the shop trying to decide what to cook that night. You’d have a meal plan. You’d know what ingredients you already had in your home so that you didn’t buy anything unnecessarily. You’d rotate the stock in your cupboards so that nothing went out of date at the back and got wasted. You’d make plans to use up leftovers in the next day’s meals. And, as with all these tips, you’d save serious cash as a result.
Do more with Boundless
Don’t forget that as a Boundless member your shopping discounts include six supermarkets: Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Iceland. Log in to your account and click on the shopping discounts tab in your member dashboard to head straight to all your savings. Click here to log in.
Boundless members get free entry to top attractions, discounts on restaurants and savings on high-street brands plus dozens of other deals on holidays, experiences and more! If you're working or retired from the public sector or civil service and not yet a member, discover more about Boundless membership.