Ricky Willis is the founder and editor of the award-winning Skint Dad blog. As well as hunting down bargains on the High Street and online; you can also find Ricky sharing his money saving ideas on Twitter and Facebook. Here as our very first guest blogger, he tells us all about how to slash the costs of our food bill!
5 Tried And Tested Ways To Reduce Your Food Bill!
One of the biggest expenses a family has after paying their rent or mortgage is the food bill. It’s one of those necessities that everyone must buy but the costs can be controlled, unlike other utility bills where you know the direct debit will be the same every single month.
A few years ago we were spending £100+ per week (for a family of four) at the supermarket and still had to pop to the local shop midweek to top up on items such as bread and milk.
At the end of 2013 we fell on pretty hard times and financially we were in a serious situation. We had bills coming out of our ears and nowhere to turn – things really had to change and we had to cut back our spending.
Not being able to reduce our rent, we turned to the next biggest expense – the food bill.
Fast forward and not only had we been able to reduce our supermarket spend but we cut it by a whopping 50% and this is how we did it.
- Planning before you go
Have you ever popped to the shop to grab a few bits or just a pint or milk and ended up coming back with double the amount you intended to? Well I used to do this all the time, mainly because I didn’t have a list.
Writing a list is easy enough. Have a think about what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks over the next week and write up the ingredients you need. Remember to have a stock take of your fridge, freezer and store cupboard to see if you have things left over from a previous shop that you can use.
You don’t have to be a dab hand in the kitchen to cook from scratch and it’s a lot easier to do. Try to plan in the majority of your meals to be made from fresh, raw or frozen ingredients and you’ll find it saves you money. It doesn’t take that much longer either.
- Don’t be loyal
We used to shop in just one supermarket purely because it was the closest one to where we lived. It was quite small and didn’t have a great deal of choice. We just bought what was there and got out as quick as we could.
After venturing a little further afield, we found another supermarket that was a lot bigger and had loads more to choose from. We also found that the different supermarkets priced items a lot cheaper for certain things so we started to look at other places.
Now we try to get to a few different supermarkets each month so we can get a range of things from all over the place. We still get everything we need each week but we may over stock on certain products so we don’t need to go back for a while. This way, we get the benefit of shopping everywhere and finding the best prices all the time.
- Keep an eye out for tricks
You need to be careful when browsing the supermarket aisles that you don’t get tricked!
Following a campaign by Which? back in 2013, the major UK supermarkets promised to start displaying the price per unit on the labels on supermarket shelves. However, not all of them are being ultra-clear and they still use tactics to make you think you’re getting a bargain.
Not all supermarkets show the price per unit on multi buys. When you see the discount you just think it’s cheaper but it doesn’t mean you’ll get the best deal. Also, a recent report has shown that some supermarkets actually put the price of an item up when it goes into a multi-buy so you’ll really be making less saving!
One trick that I’m sure you are aware of is that larger pack “better value offers” do not offer better value. This could be where you have a four pack of tinned beans and it works out cheaper to buy the tinned beans individually. It’s shocking that the supermarkets do this but if you are aware then you can save your money.
- Buying reduced
Never, never, never overlook the reduced section. It’s usually a little hidden place filled like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures.
I’ve seen some supermarkets have one main places for stock near the end of its shelf life and I’ve seen others just mix the stock up with their in-date counterparts. Wherever they are, be sure to check them out as you could freeze the food and save your hard earned cash.
What you need to remember with reduced items is that they are still fresh and still safe to eat. They put items in that are close to their “use by” date. This means that they are only safe to be eaten on or before that date but a lot of food can be frozen to preserve it longer.
It can be a money waster though if you just buy food because it’s a bargain. If you don’t have room in the freezer and you won’t be able to eat it in the next few days then don’t spend your money and leave it for someone else.
- Cut your costs further
Making the final savings for your grocery shop actually comes after you’ve made it to the checkout. Collect coupons and vouchers you find in free magazines, or hunt online and print them off. However, there is no point picking up stuff if you’re not going to use it as it may go off and just get wasted – meaning you are spending money that could go elsewhere.
When home you can save even more money still. Grab your smart phone and download apps like ClickSnap, Checkout Smart and Shopitize. The apps offers cashback and even free stuff on branded and store own food, drinks and cleaning products.
Check the apps to see if anything you’ve bought is featured then you just upload your till receipt and they give you varying amounts of money back on any eligible items. The money soon adds up!
Then, all you have left to do is unpack, put it all away and start the whole money saving food shop over again the next time!