Money never seems to stretch as far as it used to and it’s getting worse and worse in my opinion. It makes me sound old, but I remember when you could go to the corner shop with £1 for some sweets and come home pockets bulging with change! Most of these sweets such as Freddos, Refresher bars and bubble gum still exist but they do not in anyway have the same price tag. That goes for most food items that have had to move along with the economy – 10 years ago £20 of shopping would have lasted a family of 4 for several days but how far does £20 go now even if you bargain shop? Basically, it seems that we need more and more money to buy less and less shopping; so what can we do?
If we were living in America I would be telling you to get out there and coupon… but as we (or I) at least am in sunny old England we have to find other ways to keep our spending at the supermarket under control, especially if you are on a budget and make what money we do have go further. Now, I am no money expert, and experience the same spending guilt occasionally that everyone else does, but as I have said before, I am ridiculously organised and in this case that helps.
Before you even think about going to the supermarket it is really important to know what you already have in your cupboards, otherwise you’ll end up with yet another tube of tomato puree and another pot of mixed herbs! Keep a pen and pad, especially for the kitchen and grocery shopping and go through all your cupboards, racks and the fridge and freezer and make notes about everything that you have (great opportunity to recycle any out of date products too). For easy use later, it might be easier to have separate pages for: Fruit and Veg, Canned Goods, Dairy, Frozen, Cooking Ingredients, Jars & Spreads, Drinks and Other. This is just how I would organise mine, but you must find a way to organise yours for you.
We are often in such a rush that we go into the supermarket in a blind haze and grab whatever we see thinking “Oh yeah I’ll make that…” and come out with half the ingredients for 4 dishes and half for another 3 and then have to go back to the supermarket the following day and spend the same amount again! This is a recipe for overspending and disaster – you need to do some planning and the first stage of this is to decide what you are going to eat. Now I do it for a whole week, but if you don’t like having to think that far ahead, then do it for 3 days at a time (my plan will however continue on a 7 day routine so just adapt for how many days you will be doing). I take my notebook, have 5 columns (Day of the week, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Snacks) and 8 Rows (Column Titles and Days of the week – Download my version here.). Then it is simply a matter of getting out the recipes books and seeing what you fancy for the week ahead – you could also try asking other members of the house if they have any requests for that coming week and Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration for me – just check out my recipes.
Just because the recipe books have come out, don’t feel that you have to cook gourmet intricate cuisine for every meal, these are merely a guide. For every meal you choose, write the ingredients down (and the amount required) on a new page in your book to help create a shopping list. If you know that everyday, you will be having cereal for breakfast, that is absolutely fine. It’s what suits you and the needs of those in your home. When meal planning, please think about how much time and energy you will have throughout the week and plan accordingly…do you really want to make a 50 ingredient meal when you get home at 8pm from work? Extreme example but you get the picture.
Once you have your meals planned and your list of required ingredients, compare it to your inventory lists of what’s in your cupboards and remove everything you already have from your shopping list – you’ll be surprised after a while how much you remove!
I don’t know about you, but I shop online once a week for groceries and then go to the supermarket once a month on payday for a big restock (and to use my coupons it has to be said). Whichever, way you shop, it is important to get the right deals and the right prices, and that doesn’t necessarily mean staying loyal to the same supermarket each time. Take your shopping list for the week, and either on a desktop computer, or via the app on your phone visit the My Supermarket website. Now, if you are going to complete your shop online, you will need to sign up for an account, which doesn’t take a lot of time or cost anything, however, if you intend to do your shop in store, then simply click on the “Quick Shopping List” link at the top of the page.
On the little notepad that appears, type in your entire shopping list. When it searches, it will bring you back all the options for each item and you simply choose the one/amount you need and add to basket. Now, here’s the important part, once everything is in your basket, you will have options on the right hand side of the internet page, for better deals, where it shows you how you could have got items cheaper or more for your money on a variant of the item you chose. It will also show price comparisons for your shop with 6-8 other supermarkets and if one comes up cheaper, it will convert your basket and it’s contents to the store of your choice, there by ensuring that you are getting the cheapest shop you can.
Buying Your Groceries
If you are completing your transaction online, then ask My Supermarket to send your order to the store, and it will transfer your purchase to the store’s website, where you will need an account. BE WARNED: Once you have transferred to the website, please then double check your basket to make sure everything has transferred correctly, and you haven’t had any odd substitutions. If you are a new shopper to this company, quite often you will be given a reward for this; free delivery or money off, so before completing the order, make sure you check your welcome email if you have had to sign up for a new account.
If you are completing in store, you now know which supermarket to go to armed with your shopping list. BE WARNED: Don’t be surprised if the shopping is slightly more than it was online, because quite often stores do some deals exclusively online. However, we can counteract this by going in with a few coupons. As I mentioned, we will never be as good as the US with our coupons because our supermarkets would never let us get away with those kind of savings. However, they will let us have a few… but where can we find them? For starters, don’t forget your loyalty card for the supermarket. Points do accumulate however often you use each one, so it is worth having a store card as you never know when you might pop in. Manufacturers post coupons on their websites and on social media quite a lot, so follow and like your favourite brands. Finally, there are main websites that I use to find a coupon or two; Super Savvy Me, Caring Every Day . These cover quite a lot of brands and have decent amounts off. Either print them out, or request that they are mailed to you and go to the supermarket armed with savings.
Another helpful tool when shopping in store is to use their “scan and shop” if it’s available as it allows you to check the price of goods that aren’t marked clearly. Also, as a top tip, on the ends of most aisles are reduced and clearance goods. Scan these to check the price if you need them as quite often they scan cheaper than marked.
* If it’s not on the list, DON’T buy it as you obviously don’t need it, no matter how good the deal is.
*Remember to take your own bags so that you don’t end up paying for new ones
*If you shop at ASDA, don’t forget to check your receipt with their online cashback guarantee for a price comparison coupon on your shop.
*If shopping online, do a quick google search for any current e-voucher codes you can use on your shop.
*Keep your inventory lists up to date
*Try and freeze leftovers for quick and easy homemade meals when you can’t be bothered to cook.
Hope this helps you guys keep your budgets in check and it has allowed me to organise (yay!) my thought process when it comes to groceries. Happy Shopping!