10 top tips to save money on the weekly food shop

Back to Savings
Female cashier smiling

Supermarkets are great at encouraging us to splash our hard-earned cash and overspend on deals and promotions. With food prices remaining high in 2024, the weekly food shop makes a significant dent in our household budgets. Fill your trolley and eat well on a budget with these supermarket shopping hacks from personal finance expert Mrs Mummypenny

The weekly supermarket shop continues to rise far above the current levels of inflation. As of January 2024, food inflation was at 7% based on data from the Consumer Price Index. This is lower than it was in 2023, but it means that we’re paying 7% more for our food than this time last year. 

The weekly food shop is an essential spend and it makes up a big part of your family budget – according to recent government research we’re spending £32.17 per person, per week, or £515 per month for a family of four.

Thankfully there are small changes you can make to beat the cost rises, and Boundless membership can help too – members can benefit from Boundless shopping discounts, which include discounted gift cards or egifts for many major supermarkets. Here are my 10 top tips to save money on your weekly shop.

Ditch top-up shops for one big weekly shop

I am hugely guilty of just popping to the village shop for a little something that we’ve run out of, but rarely stick to the milk or bread that I went for – other items sneak into the basket, too.

The truth is, you’ll spend a lot less if you just do one weekly shop and get everything you need in that one shop. 

Many cashback sites also offer good returns if you buy a large shop (there’s usually a minimum spend) using a prepaid gift card – some of these are geared specifically to those who work in public sector jobs such as healthcare or education, while others are open to anyone. Boundless members can also purchase gift cards and egifts through the shopping discounts benefit to make savings in supermarkets such as Asda, Iceland, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. 

Write a shopping list

Put in a bit of preparation before you hit the supermarket and write a shopping list before you shop.

Meal plan for the week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinner and snacks, remembering to factor in any evening plans that might change your shopping requirements.

Try to make sure you only add items to the list that you don’t already have in the freezer or store cupboard. It’s a great idea to plan a treat/fakeaway meal to reduce the temptation of takeaways. And batch cooking is a great way to avoid food waste, save on energy costs and have a homemade meal ready to go when you need it. 

Make use of loyalty cards

All the supermarkets have loyalty cards and if you want to save money, it's imperative that you have these cards to take advantage of lower prices and loyalty points. Loyalty cards have changed recently with the big players, with Nectar, Clubcard and Boots Advantage moving to a price structure where your loyalty card will save you a lot at the till.

I love to save up my loyalty points for expensive times of the year such as birthdays and Christmas and use the points to help pay for gifts or a big shop. 

Choose a smaller trolley

This is a very simple trick, but when I get to the supermarket, I always use a half-size trolley rather than full size. Less space means there’s less temptation to fill it with food, and I spend less. Buying only what you need is a good way to reduce food waste too. 

Head to the reduced section first

I have a routine for each weekly supermarket visit that ignores any of the intended marketing tricks from the retailer. I head straight to the reduced sections in the fresh, produce and grocery areas of the supermarket and get what I can from my list from here first. Try it, and be creative if you can – maybe you had chicken on your list, but there’s turkey in the reduced section and you can substitute it.

Don’t forget that much of this food can be frozen to save far beyond the best before dates, including items like vegetables, fruit and dairy. Get to know the best times to shop the reduced sections as this varies from one store to the next. For example, 8pm at my local Tesco is the best time to hit the reduced sections.

Frozen goods are your friend

After the reduced section, head straight to the frozen area. Frozen meat and vegetables are a much cheaper alternative to fresh and there will be less wastage, too.

Tinned food is value for money

The next step is to visit the tinned aisle – fruit and vegetables in this section are again much cheaper than fresh, and you can perhaps look at canned goods to bulk out meals. A tin of lentils, or beans will make a slow cooker dinner or soup go so much further.

Swap big names for own brands

Over the years I’ve switched a great many branded goods to supermarket own brand and not even noticed the difference. My advice is to ignore the advertising and the fancy packaging and go for the supermarket versions.

We’re huge fans of own-brand crisps, mayonnaise and washing powder. But there are some brands that my sons simply refuse to switch, including chocolate spread and tomato ketchup. You’ll no doubt have your own non-negotiables!

One more thing: look down when shopping, as the bottom shelf will often have the non-branded versions of the product you’re looking at. It’s a psychological trick to put them out of your eye line.

Check the price per item, price per 100g

This is a bit more complicated, and my feeling is that supermarkets don’t always help here. Different sizes of products have different costs per 100g – sometimes a small product might be on offer and it's cheaper to buy three packets in a smaller size than one big packet. 

The label on the shelf edge will give you this information, so spend a bit of time comparing the price per 100g and save yourself some money.

Avoid store promotions

The infamous middle aisle is the part of the supermarket where you’re likely to make that impulse purchase of the luxury candle (me all the time!) or car air fresheners that you didn;t need and were certainly not on your list.

The end-of-aisle promotions are often branded treat foods – remember, these are treat foods that didn’t make it to your shopping list that you intend to stick to. Avoid them all…

Save more with Boundless

Becoming a Boundless member is a great way to save money. Boundless members can enjoy extra discounts and benefits on everything from shopping to home and motor insurance and dining out. Boundless members also get free entry to top attractions 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 here.

You might also like