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Cost of living crisis: Tips for spending less at the supermarket

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In addition to steep energy and fuel prices, food prices in the UK are increasing, which will make maintaining healthy diets a challenge.

Some supermarkets have launched incentives to help consumers or commitments to keep prices down, but they too are struggling with rising costs and are working hard to turn a profit.

Here are some tips you need to know to save money on food:

1) Plan ahead

Budgeting for food shopping is made easier by planning meals in advance and turning them into shopping lists, which reduces the chance of making potentially costly impulse purchases.

The BBC Good Food website has dozens of cheap recipe ideas, while authors such as Jack Monroe and Miguel Barclay have cookbooks for people eating on a budget.

Scratch and batch cooked dishes – especially if they can be frozen – can also be cheaper.

2) Avoid marketing traps

Shops employ subtle practices that try to steer shoppers towards certain products or parts of the store.

They often try to tempt shoppers through deals that often look better than they actually are, for instance through end of the aisle shelving, or discounts on medium-sized products which have less value for money than their bigger counterparts in other parts of the store.

Customers can only make this sort of comparison by shopping down the aisles to see all the available options and make an informed choice.

Additionally, the cheapest deals are not usually at eye level, so it is therefore worth scanning other shelves to see if there are better options, such as supermarket own-brand or value products on lower shelves.

These items tend to be cheaper than branded items but closely match them for quality.

3) Join loyalty schemes

Loyalty card schemes can save shoppers money, although not all of them offer immediate savings.

For example, Tesco Clubcard holders can access special discount prices on popular items both in-store and online.

Customers who make large, routine purchases at the retailer may want to consider joining the Clubcard Plus scheme, which costs £7.99 for two 10% discounts per month.

Sainsbury’s (Nectar), Morrisons (My Morrisons), Waitrose (MyWaitrose), Lidl and the Co-op also offer loyalty schemes which give money off future shops or specific items.

However, for customers who do not have a good deal or you only one big store in their area, it is usually more cost effective to shop around than rely on loyalty discounts.

4) Shop seasonally

Fresh produce is usually cheaper to buy when it is in season.

For example, strawberries becomes more available during the summer months, and when this happens, supermarkets usually stock larger packs and push prices down.

More information about what British produce is in season and when can be found on the Eat The Seasons website.

5) Buy more frozen fruits and vegetables

Customers can often overlook the frozen aisle, but frozen fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper, and just as healthy, as fresh produce.

The only downside to frozen veg is that its texture can often be lost in the defrosting process, but when batch cooking things like curries, chillis or casseroles, the difference is hardly noticeable.

6) The world food isle is your friend

This is another often overlooked section of the supermarket.

However, common food items in unfamiliar packaging that are often cheaper can be found in this section, such as soy sauce, spices and packets of rice and lentils.

7) Shop at unsociable hours

Shopping at unpopular times – especially in the evening and night – could help customers save money on their shop.

Supermarkets tend to discount fresh items as closing time approaches, and these reductions usually get bigger as time goes on.

Therefore, shoppers could purchase meals for a fraction of the price if they accurately time their shop by scouting local stores at different times to find out when the yellow discount stickers start to appear.

8) Eat less meat

Some people are reducing the amount of meat they consume because of the health and environmental benefits, but it’s a great for your wallet too.

Eating alternatives such a soy, lentils and veggie mince are cheaper than meat.

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