The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money in the Supermarket

A fact of life that we all have to face is that food costs money. How much it costs is a different matter entirely.

If you are someone who just walks into the supermarket hungry and on a whim to buy food, stop it right now! Don’t even think about buying a lunch meal deal again without reading our commandments of food shopping.

Thou shalt not impulse buy

Supermarkets are cleverly designed to take you through a maze of potential purchases that have nothing to do with your weekly food shop. Avoid the clothes aisle, the electronics and the homeware. This is not what you came for. Bypass all the non-essentials and get stuck in at the fruit and veg section before any distractions come along.

Love thy shopping list

If you aren’t already working off a shopping list, start one now. Always sit down before you hit the supermarket and write down what you think you need/ fancy, and then check the cupboards and the fridge to make sure you aren’t doubling up. The big trick is sticking to the list when you get to the store.

The brand does not makeith the meal

Tesco’s Finest must be better then Tesco Value, yes? And it always has to be Heinz? No. The illusion that used to surround branded products is slowly fading thanks to shows like ‘Eat Well for Less’, but we are all guilty of refusing to buy unbranded alternatives to some of our favourites. We aren’t saying sacrifice them all, but know when you are being duped. Some premium brands make products for supermarket own brands that include the same ingredients but cost less, for a few examples check out this article on ‘clone-brands’.

BOGOF with care

Buy-one-get-one-free offers are not always as great as they seem. So you were going to buy yourself one pizza for £3.00 but you can get 2 for £4.00, that is all well and good if you are going to eat the other pizza, but not if you have spent an extra 50p to throw a pizza out. BOGOF’s work best on non-perishable products, think toothpaste, shampoo and rice.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day

Learn to cook. If you are relying on ready meals to get you through uni you will be broke for most of it. Buying basic ingredients and building meals from what you have lying around is a good way to save money instead of having to buy a whole dinner every night. For inspiration have a look at BBC Good Food’s store cupboard recipes.

Remember thy coupon

Coupons are not just for those crazy people on American TV shows, they can save you mega money. There are two levels of coupon, those you get from in store loyalty schemes i.e. Tesco clubcard and Sainsburys Nectar point, and then there are promotional ones from brands that are online or in magazines. To find all the best savings in one place regularly check the Money Saving Expert’s coupon page.

Honour thy locals

This may shock some people but the supermarket is not the only place to get food. If you are lucky enough to still have access to an independent butcher or greengrocer try comparing their prices to the mega chain stores. Bearing in mind most students are shopping for one you may only want one or two chicken breasts not a large multipack that supermarkets tend to offer.

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Thou shalt not buy individual tins of sweetcorn

Tinned food can withstand a nuclear holocaust. It is rarely cost effective to only buy one tin of soup or tomatoes. Check the offers see if you are getting a good deal and if it costs more to buy them as individuals then buy the multipack.

Find the holy land

Every supermarket does them differently but they all do them – we are talking about the magic yellow stickers. There is a lot of speculation and rumour as to when and where each supermarket puts its discounted products out. Student Money Saver offers a host of tips and tricks to help you on your hunt. There is a knack to knowing what to buy and when, but the fundamental rule is if you can freeze it you are on to a winner.

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