Reduce your weekly shopping bill

By using simple common sense ideas, everyone can change the way they shop, by economising and reducing the amount of money they spend on food and general shopping every week.
With the price of petrol, household bills and food increasing every day, it is time for us all to take a look at what we are spending and review the way that we shop in order to maximise our shopping and minimise our spending as for many of us it is becoming increasingly harder to manage our money each week.
There has never been a better time to sit down and make a plan to making the most of your grocery-shopping expense. Despite high prices, you can save money at the supermarket with some pre-planning and a little extra effort. 
Here are some tips to help you save money at the checkout.

Shop Once a Week only

If you do nothing else, limit your grocery shopping to once a week. Every time you go to the store, you are tempted to impulsively buy items that you really don’t need. Running to the store every day can double or even triple your weekly grocery expense. 
Above everything else, this may be the most significant way that you can save money on your grocery bill. Once a week means just that… once a week! 

Create a weekly grocery budget

While this seems fairly obvious, it is surprising how few people actually have a plan for spending their monthly income. Most people find themselves living payday to payday, and running short at the end of the month is not unusual.

Use a Weekly Grocery Menu Plan and List 

To save money at the grocery store, Study the ads for all the stores in your area, looking at what’s on sale, plan your menu around these offers. Try to find one or two stores that have the best offers and stick to shopping at them. You won’t save money driving all over town for one or two items.
Plan several meals around the best sale items. For example, if whole chickens are on sale, plan to serve a roast chicken dinner one night, and then use the leftovers to prepare chicken curry the next night. The chicken can also be used for sandwiches and the bones for soup stock. 

Look online for interesting recipes using whatever meats you are buying. 

Working people often find that preparing meals each evening is impossible. It is tempting to stock up on frozen meals to use during the week. But these prepared meals are expensive, and the costs add up significantly. 
If you plan ahead, you can actually prepare a variety of dishes ahead of time and put them in the freezer to be heated up each night. This takes a bit more time, but the cost savings are significant.

Make sure you know what you already have

Before you go to the store, take your menu plan and recipes, and check your cupboard and refrigerator to see if you need any of the ingredients. Check spices, dressings, sauces, and other condiments.
How many times have you been in the store and not known whether or not you have a certain item at home? Not wanting to take a chance, you buy it, only to discover you already have one or more of this item sitting in your cupboard! 
Worse yet, you forget to write down a key ingredient for one of the recipes and discover later that you don’t have it. This leads to the temptation to revisit the grocery store, and you can end up spending additional money over your budget. 

Make a Shopping List (and stick to it!)

Never go to the grocery store without a list… ever! You should write down everything that you require to prepare the meals on your plan. Estimate your total expenditure so that you won’t exceed your budget. 
Make a vow not to buy anything that is not on the list. This is difficult the first few times out, but becomes habitual with practice. It also saves you time in that you aren’t running all around the store looking for things that you think you might need. 

Collect Special offer vouchers

Once you have your list, look through your vouchers. Only use vouchers that are for items that you would normally buy and that are on your list. 
Having a voucher for something that you really don’t need is often a temptation to buy it. If there are vouchers for similar items, check the store ad to see if any of them are on sale. Combining vouchers with advertised items is an excellent way to save money. 
Beware: Even with vouchers, some store brand items are less expensive than name brands. Before you choose the name brand item, check the store brand of the same item (not all store brand items are always cheaper take care). 

Never Shop When you are Hungry

This rule is one that we all have heard before, but it bears repeating. When you are hungry, your will power is diminished and you will be tempted to buy things you really don’t need. 
Areas of particular danger are the bakery aisle and snack section. 
The best time to go shopping is in the morning, after having eaten breakfast, or later in the evening, after dinner. 

Online Grocery Shopping

While the actual prices will not differ much, between online grocery outlets and regular stores, however, it will be far easier to locate sales, for they will often be displayed on a single web page at the click of a mouse button. 
Plus, when you do your shopping online, the chances of succumbing to buying on impulse will be negligible. And, of course, you save on the fuel and time. 

Consider where to shop carefully

The lower end supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi  are fast becoming more popular and now stock a fantastic range including many known brand names and are usually a great deal cheaper. 
They may not be as fancy as the bigger names such as Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Waitrose, but do you need a fancy shop? 
They cut back on costs so that they can pass this on to you, the consumer. You may find that there are not as many deals as the other supermarkets such as buy one get one free or 3 for 2 etc, but if the items are a lot less expensive in the first place, then it’s a great saving for you. 
An item that may cost £3.00 in Tesco and is on buy one get one free, so you get 2 for £3.00, but if the item in Aldi for example is only £1.50p anyway, then you still get 2 for £3.00, and these are long term prices not short term offers.
That’s not to say that buy one get one free in the larger supermarkets should be ignored, far from it – you can get some fantastic deals, but only buy them if you usually use the products. If you don’t use them it’s not a saving. 
Own brand labels are not to be laughed at either. Most supermarkets do a “value” or “basics” range and a mid price range which is still usually considerably cheaper than well known brands, and often just as tasty. Most of the time there is little difference in the taste, but a lot of difference in the price. The value ranges are more basic, but for things like kitchen roll, tin foil, clingfilm and household goods they offer the same usability but normally for a huge price reduction compared with branded goods. 
When shopping in the well known supermarkets such as Tesco’s, Morrisons etc, it is worth knowing that the later on in the day you visit, the more price reductions there will be on things such as Meat, chilled products, bread and fruit and vegetables. 
The meat and chilled items usually start getting reduced from around 3pm and the bread more towards the evening time. It is worth stocking up on reduced meat and bread as even if they only have one day left on the shelf life, freeze them when you get home and this way you can get your bread and meat at sometimes half price or even less.
Join up to any loyalty schemes that a supermarket has, as these are free to join and you will collect points for all your shopping which is converted into money back vouchers. The points add up and you can end up with some nice money off.
These are great to save up for a big shop, maybe around Christmas time when money is normally tight for most people.
Just by changing the way we shop, thinking about what we are putting in our trolleys and checking prices before we buy, everyone can start to save a little on their shopping bills and with rising prices, this is something that we all need to think about.


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