Wednesday, 17 September 2014

12 Ways to Save Money when Food Shopping

Posted by Rosie

Isn't it often the way that you pop to the shops to buy a couple of things and come back having spent a small fortune?  Food shopping never seems to get any cheaper but there are simple ways you can food shop for less and without compromising on quality.

12 Ways to Save Money when Food Shopping

Shopping List

Write what you need and stick to it. If you do buy something on offer/reduced then either take something out of your trolley or freeze it for use later.  Don't be tempted to buy extras and don't shop when you are hungry!

Michelangelo's Shopping List

Buy bigger packages and in bulk

Buying bigger packs of food is usually cheaper per kilo/litre but do check prices as this is not always the case, especially if you happen to live in France where the opposite is often true!  Bulk buying from a co-operative is also cheaper.  If the amounts are too much for you, link up with friends and family and jointly reduce your food costs.

Buy loose products

These can be considerably cheaper than ready-bagged but again do always check the prices.  It also means you can buy exactly the amount you need.  If buying loose like this in France it is called en vrac.

Buy own brand products

Own brand products are usually cheaper than the main brands and in some case we prefer them anyway.  We much prefer the own brand baked beans from one big shop as opposed Heinz and they are considerably cheaper.


By all means buy expensive cuts of meat but just do this less often. For other meals learn how to cook cheaper cuts of meat (more often available from a local butcher rather than a supermarket) and with other meat dishes make them go further with the addition of cheaper vegetables and pulses.  A few red lentils for example added to some mince will not greatly alter the taste but will make the mince go further for less cost per person. 

Buy Direct

Buying direct from the farmer/producer is usually cheaper than supermarkets. Visit farmer's markets and farm shops.  If you have a freezer why not consider buying a half or whole pig/lamb to keep down the cost? You can always share a whole animal with some-one else.


If you have a local market go at the end of trading as many traders will sell off produce at greatly reduced prices.

Paris market


Even if you can’t go at the end of the day, if you buy enough give haggling a go. You may be surprised at how much you can reduce your food bill. Getting to know your market traders is useful and regular customers will often find a little extra thrown into their bags as a free gift.

BOGOF’s (Buy One Get One Free) 

These are great but only if you buy something that you are actually going to use and that you take something else out of your trolley. If you really don’t think you can get through 2 huge bags of apples and end up throwing half of them out that is a terrible waste and you have saved nothing. But a quick search for recipes will give you some great ideas for easy cheap puddings that will save you money. Also do a comparison before you buy a BOGOF as sometimes expensive branded items are on offer but equally good, own brand products may still be cheaper even without the offer. 

The reduced shelves

Some supermarkets generously reduce items that are nearly out of date or slightly damaged.  Learn when they tend to make these reductions and be there to have the pick of the bargains. But again, if you buy something reduced for immediate use, take something out of your trolley that you now don’t need. Otherwise freeze it for later use. And check it really is a bargain – 50p off an item that is £1 more expensive than a similar alternative is not saving you any money.

Seasonal and local

Buying locally produced, fresh produce that is in season will often be the cheapest and best quality food that you can bring home (and the best for the environment).  Enjoy strawberries in early summer when they are at their best and cheapest and relish parsnips in when they are in season in mid winter.  Your food will taste better and you will spend less money.

In season Strawberries (June)

Grow your own then swap and barter

From a pot of herbs on the window sill to a full blown allotment/veg garden – this is the cheapest you can get.  When you get an excess of something try swapping with neighbours. You’ll be surprised how much some people will swap for a few of your fresh beans/courgettes.  Maybe a local bee keeper will swap a jar of honey for some of your excess produce.

Do you have any other money saving tips when out food shopping?  Please do drop us a comment if you do.

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