How to save money on food
by Simon Ward | 12 October 2012 | 8 commentsTweet
With food prices set to rise, here are some top tips for cutting your costs - and potentially cutting food waste.
Food prices are set to rise, following the summer's terrible weather, which has played havoc with wheat, fruit and vegetables crops. But there are loads of ways you can save money on your food shopping now.
Look out for special offers
Most supermarket websites will advertise special offers - like ‘buy one get one free’ - so you can find out what's available before stepping into the supermarket itself. Just make sure you can freeze whatever you don't need immediately.
Get to know supermarkets' reduction times
Most supermarkets discount fresh items towards the end of the day. However, with longer opening hours it's a case of finding out just the right time to grab those bargains. Time it right and the 'reduced to clear' shelves can save you big money. Just be careful as these items will probably have a short use by date on them, so either eat them quickly, or freeze them if you can.
Visit the deep discounters
Budget supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi, along with discount shops like Poundstretcher, Poundland and the 99p Store, have become a big hit with many shoppers because you can often find better deals there than in the major supermarkets. They manage to keep prices low by stocking cheaper brands and having lower overheads.
Local farmers' markets can be a great place to buy fruit and veg for less. By cutting out the middle man, they can offer good quality food at supermarket-beating prices. Find a local farmers’ market online.
Alternatively, check out your local greengrocers and butchers to see how prices compare.
Local greengrocers and markets can work out far cheaper for fruit and veg than supermarkets.
Buy in bulk
Bulk buying can offer genuine savings, especially if you share out the produce among friends and neighbours. Sacks of rice, for example, are extremely cheap from Asian grocers.
Avoid pre-packaged food
If possible, try to buy food that isn't wrapped up in loads of packaging as it'll be cheaper. Buy your fruit and veg loose, and also purchase more from the deli counter – cheeses and meats are likely to be cheaper here than those wrapped up in plastic on the shelves. It will also taste fresher.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Some cuts are cheaper than others, perhaps because they take longer to cook. But if you're prepared to take a little more time over your cooking, buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save! Find out more in this article.
Check your units
It's always worth checking how much an item costs per 100 grams/ kilogramme – sometimes you may find it actually costs more to buy a larger packet than a smaller one.
Ignore Best Before dates
It may sound unpalatable, but it's unlikely to be harmful, according to the Food Standards Agency. And it could save you serious money!
The main problem with these sites is that they can't entirely replace your normal shopping habits as there is no fresh food. You can get free delivery on your first order over £30 on Approved Food or from £2.99 if you spend over £30 on Food Bargains.
Eat the seasons
Eating locally-grown food when it is in season is not only cheaper, but it tastes fresher and it reduces food miles (assuming the weather doesn't ruin the crops). For more on what's in season when in the UK, take a look at our handy food seasons calendars.
Grow your own
Growing your own fruit and veg, as well as herbs, could knock a large chunk off your grocery bill! Read our guide to 10 good things to grow and eat for some inspiration. If you don't have a garden, you could apply for an allotment.