Saving The Pennies On The Food Shop

The other day I came across an excel spreadsheet I had made of food prices last August. I decided to add food prices from November this year to the excel spreadsheet to see how much prices really had increased in the last 15 months. It’s safe to say I was shocked, I knew prices had increased but I didn’t realise by just how much. 

The price comparison I did was based on food prices from our main store Tesco. There were a few things that had the same price as last year such as tofu, lentils and plant chef mince, which I was quite shocked by. However, majority of the food items had increased in price. Albeit, the bulk of the foods in the comparison had inflated by a few pennies, for example bread, kidney beans and spaghetti had a 3p difference to last year. There were a few foods that showed disconcerting prices compared to last year of at least a 20p increase. For example, cous cous, puff pastry, plant chef herby bangers were at least 20p more than last year. The most unfavourable item on the list in terms of price was vegetable oil, showing a shocking 66p increase. 

Even though some of these prices have increased by a few pennies, they still add up into pounds overall, which in turn negatively impacts a budget. For example, a strict food budget of £80 a month may have worked for one family last year. However, this year it may not work especially if the family income has remained the same as last year. 

Saving the pennies 

Here are some things I’ve learned to help make a food budget work during the current cost of living crisis. 

💫 Buy Own Brands

This has been a general rule I’ve gone by since buying my own food. A pack of Tesco’s own Hearty Food Co penne pasta is 35p, whereas the Napolina Penne Pasta is £1.50. Both of which are 500g, but if you go for the own brand you can buy 4 packs for less than the price of the Napolina pasta. Thus allowing for more meals to be made and making your money last longer. 

✨ Look At The Price Per KG 

Following on from buying own brands, looking at the price per kilo is also a great trick to get the best value for your shopping. Let’s take the Tesco Red Split Lentils for example, the 500g pack is £1.35 and the 1kg pack s £1.80. At a first glance it may seem that the 500g pack is cheaper, however, taking a look at the price per kg offers a clearer insight as to which pack will be better value. The 500g pack is £2.70 per kg, whereas the 1kg pack is £1.80 per kg. Taking that information into account, it is safe to say that the 1Kg pack will make your money go further. Whilst it may seem as though it is more expensive, it is cheaper in the long run as it will provide more meals without the need of having to buy a second pack. 

💫 Check What’s In Your Cupboard

Doing a stock check of your cupboard is really useful as it will prevent you from buying products you don’t currently need. Even if it is a look in the cupboard as opposed to a complete list of everything, you will get a rough idea of what is needed or not. For example, if you have three quarters of a bottle of oil in the cupboard which has lasted a month already, you would not need to buy another bottle of oil in the shop this month. 

✨ Meal Plan 

Following on from doing a cupboard stock check it may also be beneficial to create a meal plan for each week. Again, a rough meal plan of meals that would suit the household needs is better than having no idea when doing the food shop. You don’t have to make a strict meal plan to follow daily, but having a rough idea of what do eat throughout the week will help a lot. Having an idea of what meals will be eaten and knowing what you have in the cupboard will help you determine what you need to buy and how much. This in turn will help to save the pennies by preventing unnecessary purchases. 

Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev

💫 Don’t Fall For Offers 

Price offers in supermarkets may seem great at first glance, however, it is always better to double check to see if there are some cheaper options. Take Linda McCartneys Vegetarian sausages for example, they are currently on offer for £1.50 on Clubcard price. However, when checking the rest of the store for similar items, the Plant Chef Herby Bangers are £1.35 for the same amount of sausages. 

However, sometimes the offers are better than the store brands. For example, I have seen an offer on Violife Vegan Cheese for £2 on Clubcard Price, which I know is a great deal for vegan cheese but I still wanted to check the store brand. When checking the store brand it turned out that it is actually more expensive at £2.20, thus in this case it is better to go for the item that is on offer. 

✨ Get The Rewards Card 

A supermarket rewards cards are always worth getting if your regular store if they have one available. If your regular store is Tesco, I’d definitely recommend getting a Tesco Clubcard as there are some products that are £1 with a Clubcard and £5 without. I imagine you’ve seen the ridiculous prices of some products that are extremely high if you do not have a Clubcard by now. 

Another supermarket worth getting a rewards card for is Asda. They’ve recently introduced the Asda Rewards Card which allows customers to get cash back on certain items by using their smartphone app while shopping. Definitely worth getting if you’re a regular customer to Asda. 

💫 Make Your Own

Making your own meals ends up being a lot cheaper than buying ready made meals and takeaways. Ready meals can be super expensive in comparison due to the convenience of them. If you can, try to make your own meals from scratch as much as possible. Albeit, there are a few things that can be quite difficult and time consuming to make especially when you have other priorities. I do find that researching recipes and learning how to make our favourite meals does end up saving a lot of money.

Photo by Michael Burrows

The cost of living crisis and inflation of food prices absolutely sucks. Hopefully there will be some light showing the end of the crisis soon enough, however, in the meantime I hope this post helps someone. 

What other advice would you give in regards to saving the pennies while food shopping? Let me know below. 👇🏻

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