Supermarkets in the UK: how to save money grocery shopping

supermarkets uk

A large part of everyone’s salary is usually spent on food, but since it’s always good to save let’s talk about how to do so in the supermarket.

Basic tips

… which we all have heard, or told someone, but never follow…

1. Open the fridge and write down what you need.

Something as simple as making a list of everything you need will prevent you from going through all the supermarket aisles, forgetting to buy some things and buying others that you don’t really need. This way, you will also be able to plan your dinners for the week or month and this will help if you’re on a diet, if you want to eat healthier, etc… If you leave everything until the last minute, you spend more money, buy worse things and always end up forgetting something

2. Spend time comparing products before going to the supermarket.

Big brands put a lot of time into thinking about how to sell their products. Therefore you should spend time comparing the prices of products of different brands or the prices in different supermarkets. You can either look up all the products separate on each supermarket’s website, or make your list at MySupermarket.co.uk and let it tell you where to save money.

3. Don’t buy everything at the same place.

We like things simple and supermarkets know it. That is why they try to make the money they lose on lowering some products’ prices by making you pay more for others. But if you have already looked at what you need and found out where it is cheaper, you can organize your shopping day. For example, maybe you can go to ASDA to buy some things, then to PoundLand to buy some cleaning products, and finally to ALDI to buy meat.

4. Fresh things are better locally.

There is probably a grocery store or an off-license somewhere in your neighbourhood that sells a bit of everything, but mostly fruit and vegetables. Check the prices for seasonal products, because they are always very cheap. At home we went from buying the tomatoes pack from ASDA (£10) to going to the grocery store of our neighbourhood where they sell boxes of 5kgs of tomatoes for £3. It’s great when we want to make gazpacho for everyone. 😀

5. Become a fan of copy brands or generic brands.

Simply by changing from the better known “premium” brands to the supermarket “own” brands, you will save a decent about of money. Check out this video:

6. Shop online and have it delivered at home.

As is always the case, the large supermarkets with special offers (ASDA, Sainsbury’s, ALDI, and LIDL) aren’t found everywhere. You may have to get there and back by bike, bus or metro, carrying all the groceries, which is a problem. But since we have already gone online to do the shopping list and found out what is cheaper where, why not go to the store website and get it delivered at home? ASDA offers home delivery service for £1 (until 10pm) and other chains may even deliver for free depending on the size of your purchase.

7. If you are in the supermarket and you see an appealing offer, don’t trust it right away.

On several occasions I have bought the typical 2×3 from ASDA or Sainsbury’s, but a few days later I realised that they were selling it cheaper without the offer elsewhere. This is a great app for checking if an offer is good or if you can buy the product for less elsewhere: idealo.co.uk

With IDEALO and your smartphone you can take a picture of the barcode of any product in a store and it will tell you where you can find it cheaper.

8. Pay with your debit or credit card if you get cashback.

Some banks (including Santander, NatWest and Halifax) offer debit or credit cards where at the end of the month they give you back 1%, 2%, 3% or more of the amount of your purchases. If that’s your case, pay by card instead of by cash. If you spend £200/300 a month in food, in a year you will have saved more than £50-100. It may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up.

9. If you go to the supermarket, go at night.

Something that I like about the UK is that I can go grocery shopping very early or very late. ASDA is open 24h and others like Tesco or Sainsbury are open from 7h to 23h. But going late is not good only because you can avoid the crowds. Most places reduce the price of many products up to 75% after 7pm (ASDA does this after 9pm), especially products with a nearby expiration date, like fruits, vegetables, bread and milk. Take the opportunity to save money, and maybe you can cook the food the day after, freeze what you prepare, and keep it for later.

10. Head over to ALDI and LIDL

For special occasions, I love going to Marks&Spencer to shop: although it is expensive, what you find is sometimes worth it. But I’m a huge fan of LIDL and ALDI when it comes to my weekly shopping. You will find the basics as well as own brands, which imitate the better known products, allowing you to save a lot of money by the end of the month. Fresh products are not bad, the meat is very good and the “DeLuxe” products are cheap and of a more than acceptable quality (the “DeLuxe” potato wedges are so good that DOMINO’s pizza bought them for 59p at ALDI and resold them for £3.50 a portion). Today I used www.mysupermarket.co.uk to compare a typical purchase of mine (milk, salad, eggs, meat, etc.) in different stores. The cheapest result was ALDI for £24, while in Sainsbury’s the same purchase would cost £37.

11. Coupons and discounts

You’ll find them in magazines and get them mailed to you, or you’ll acquire them when you use customer or loyalty cards, but the main thing is to be organized so that you don’t try to use them in the wrong supermarket. Group them together and when you need to do the shopping, look at them carefully, because you can use some of them for the same products in different stores or you can take the opportunity to use them all at once on the same day in the same place.

Conclusion

It might seem like a nuisance to make a list, check websites, compare prices, etc. but you will only have to do it once or twice. After that you will know where to get the cheapest thing off the top of your head, you will adapt to the routine of preparing a list, and you will notice that you are saving more than you used to. In my case, I went from spending almost £300 a month in groceries to £150.

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