I remember a timewhen I’d be jockeying for position in the bakery aisles at Sainsbury’s and the advantage was held by the trolleys which were literally overflowing with what looked like a monthly shop. Their size would cow us mere weekly/bi-weekly shoppers into submission, like traffic parting for a siren.
The notorious wheels would flap about, creaking under the weight of £200, £300, maybe more in groceries which would paint a wonderful picture of the life of a consumer in 2005 if scattered across a blank canvass.
Every till operator would stare in horror, silently praying that the monstrosity looking for the shortest check-out queue wouldn’t come to them.
How things have changed.
As and when you need it
According to a report in the Guardian just before Christmas, two thirds of Brits now treat their local supermarket like a walk-in fridge, many of us (including me) buying our evening meal on the way home from work.
Aside from the extended opening hours of stores which are located far more conveniently being a contributing factor (thank you ALDI and LIDL), the British public is far more conscious of OTT shopping trips which in turn end up with money pouring down the drain through waste.
This is just one indication of how budget-savvy we have all become and it is a great habit to help save money on your shopping as you only buy what you need.
Not all of us can manage a daily basket, though, but there are so many different ways of saving money on your groceries, the best of which we’ve listed here:
We love to shop around for most things. ALDI and LIDL have helped take the labour out of this. If you’ve got one near you, give one of the German budget chains a go.
I used to be convinced that a visit to one of them would mean having to sacrifice quality for reduced cost. This is no longer the case with both stores winning awards for all sorts of food and drink products, yet still managing to keep prices down. I’m often very surprised at how much value for money I can get.
Do be prepared for a no frills in-store experience, although a race to re-fill your trolley at checkout against the lightening quick cashiers can be fun (in my sad little head anyway#smallwins)
A slow but sure way of saving money in the long run is to sign up for reward cards or points schemes with the big chains (apart from ASDA who don’t currently have one):
Sainsbury’s are part of Nectar. Registering your Nectar card for online shopping or presenting it every time you checkout in-store gives you 1 Nectar point for every £1 spent. The minimum 500 points is worth £2.50 when you redeem them.
From personal experience, it builds up pretty quickly if you’re a regular and I once bought all my Christmas food with 12 months of Nectar points (although that was when it was 2 points for every £1 spent). You can also use the points at other Nectar partners such as Argos.
Tesco Clubcard is similar – a point for every pound spent (more on fuel).
The minimum 150 points is worth £1.50 when redeemed although unlike Sainsbury’s, where you can redeem as and when you please using your card, Tesco send you vouchers every three months. You can, however, use them with Tesco’s Reward Partners such as Cineworld and Pizza Express.
Iceland offer a pre-pay Bonus Card which earns you a bonus of £1 for every £20 you top it up with for spending in their stores.
The Co-op has a membership scheme which earns you earn 5% cashback when you buy any Co-op own-brand item and a further 1% which goes to a local charity in your area.
Timing (again) – it’s a handy thing to find out when your local supermarket starts to label items up as ‘reduced but still fresh’. The best before date will be that day or the next so make sure you eat it soon. Most stores have a designated section in the fridges or on the shelves for such items.
Buy one get one free, buy two get the third free, buy one get one for a pound, half price, a third off etc… The amount of deals supermarkets offer these days are endless.
Keep an eye out for deals on your usual’s but also for brands that you have never tried before (they’re all much of a muchness anyway).
And if you can, bulk buy non-perishables or freezables which are on offer – this will save money on your next few shops and it could be a long time before they’re on offer again.
The Online Shop
Us Brits love to shop online, over 25% of us having a groceries delivered more than once a month. Prices don’t vary much from what you get in-store but whether its petrol, public transport or a taxi, the cost of getting to and from the nearest supermarket is removed.
That said, the delivery charges vary according to day of the week and time of day. I’ve found that the cheapest ‘slots’ with the big four are late at night (as little as 99p with Morrison’s) and early evenings (about £2-£3).
Avoid weekday mornings, Saturdays and Sundays. At the time of writing you could pay as much as £7 for a weekend delivery, £5/£6 before lunch Monday to Friday, although for some reason Wednesdays can be cheaper.
If you are happy to go with Tesco for every shop then they offer a ‘Delivery Saver’ – sign up for a six month contract and your monthly fee is£3.49. This gets you unlimited deliveries and priority access to prime delivery slots. Although this is only on Tuesday-Thursday. I’m afraid it’s £6.99 for ‘any day’ six month contract.
Asda offer a ‘Delivery Pass’ which works out cheaper. ‘Anytime’ delivery pass is £35 upfront or £6 for six months and you get one month free.
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