HomeLifestyleFood & RecipesSix supermarket shopping hacks to save you money

Six supermarket shopping hacks to save you money

With so many people looking for solutions to combat rising prices and stretched budgets, we all need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to how we plan, shop and cook at home.

Our first thought is often to cut back – cooking up more basic dishes that cost less – and not to explore the food we love without compromise.

“There’s a wealth of tools for tracking how much we spend on food shopping but nobody tracks how much food (and therefore money) we throw away,” says Ben Ebbrell, chef and cofounder of Sorted Food, a YouTube channel and food community dedicated to this exact cause.

“Half a bell pepper that’s become floppy costs 25p, quarter of a wrinkled cucumber 15p, two chicken breasts that went out of date equals £3+. It all adds up… yet nobody actually does add it up!”

Research shows that 70 per cent of all food waste in the UK happens at home, equating to £14bn worth of wasted food ever year. Meal planning apps like Sorted’s Sidekick, which publishes recipe packs that share ingredients between them, helps home cooks start thinking like a chef who’s running a restaurant that needs to make a profit, serve up delicious food, spend less and minimise food waste.

“Even with the best meal planning intentions, when most of us go shopping we have a list of ingredients to buy that we use across individual dishes, but often this means we still end up with leftover food that ultimately ends up in the bin,” says Sorted co-founder Jamie Spafford.

“That’s not to mention all the supermarket ‘special offers’ that tempt us into buying food we don’t need. For example, take a curry recipe that requires 100g of spinach that the supermarket only sells in 200g bags; the spare 100g usually ends up at the back of the fridge and then in the bin.”

Here’s the chefs at Sorted’s favourite money-saving hacks to help take the strain out of everyday meal planning and shopping.

How to shop smart and avoid scams in the supermarket

  • Be aware that essentials like bread and milk are put at the back of a store, which means you have to walk past everything else to get to them – be on your guard and resist temptation by heading only to the aisles you know you need.
  • Aisle ends with big offers means you’re more likely to pick up something you hadn’t planned to – try to look past these offers if the items aren’t on your shopping list.
  • The ‘Power aisle’ at the front of a supermarket is packed full of seasonal/trending items that might not be in your plans to purchase – avoid these if you can, and turn left when you enter the shop, not right.
  • More expensive/branded items are kept at eye-level on the shelves – make sure you look up and down to see if there are any better value items you can go for. Check the per kg/100g price to see how prices compare if the packets are different sizes.
  • Complementary products are kept next to each other to tempt you to buy more – try to stick to what is on your list.
  • Cheaper prices are only available to card holders – make sure you’re signed up to the right store cards to get these offers, but be wary of the clever “offers” you will be sent to lure you into buying more.

How to make your food go further at home

  • Make a plan – know what you’re going to cook on each day and buy only the ingredients you need, rather than going shopping and picking up things that “look nice” or “are on offer” but don’t necessarily go together to form meals.
  • Shopping online removes your ability to browse and be tempted by things you don’t need. BOGOF offers always seem like great value, but if you don’t need two of the same item, there’s a chance it’ll go to waste.
  • Don’t buy something fresh unless you know how you’re going to use it before it goes off. This is where use by dates can be your friend or foe!
  • If you can afford it and have places to store it, buy in larger sizes – it’ll work out cheaper in the long run.
  • Make more than you need: batch cooking meals will always work out cheaper and be more time efficient. Lots of meals can be frozen and used at a later date.
  • Think about what you’re going to cook and when. Can you make use of “reduced” items that have a shorter shelf life?
  • Shop seasonally: it’ll be cheaper to buy fruit/veg/salad that is in season right now.
  • Herbs don’t do too well in the plastic bags they are sold in. Try and use them up quickly or wrap them in damp J Cloths to extend their shelf life.

You can find out more about Sorted and their recipe planning app Sidekick on the website, sortedfood.com.

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