Recession-busting food shopping for thrifty people

Buttercup By Buttercup, 5th Mar 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Money Saving Tips

Tips for making your money go further when shopping for food

Plan your weekly Menu

Set aside time to make a menu for the week. Consult recipe books & online recipes.

Don’t be too rigid in your approach to recipes. Recipe cards which you can pick up in supermarkets often plug more expensive ingredients than you need. Think about what it might add to the dish and consider a cheaper alternative, or if it really adds anything at all to the overall taste.

Make vegetarian meals as well as meals centred around meat. You don’t need to eat meat every day even if you are a meat eater. Pulses are tasty and full of goodness – protein, carbohydrates and fibre, low in fat. It is cheap to buy canned kidney beans, chick peas, cannellini beans, butter beans etc and they are easy to cook – no need to soak overnight as with the dried pulses. There are also many non-meat recipes using cheese or vegetables.

Rather than buying ready-meals from the supermarket, take the ideas from those dishes. Don’t be afraid to take a note of the ingredients and try your own version. I was inspired to make a ham and mushroom tagliatelli by seeing a ready-meal on the supermarket shelf. I buy the cheap large boxes of mushrooms, planning another meal with mushrooms for later in the week, and go to the cold meat counter for some ham ends which are often sold off cheaply and are very tasty. The ham and mushrooms combined with a cheese sauce and stirred into cooked tagliatelli makes a very tasty and economical dish with larger portions than you would get in a supermarket ready-meal.

Cook a larger meal than for one night and keep the remainder for another meal. You can put the extra in the freezer for later, or put it in the fridge to eat later in the week. This not only saves money on ingredients and fuel, it also saves your own energy so you don’t have to cook from scratch every evening after a hard day’s work.

Look at websites like to see the latest offers from the major supermarkets and incorporate offer items into your menu planning.

Make a shopping list

Use your menu to make a shopping list. Always make a shopping list, but be flexible if there is a good offer is on the marked-down shelf.

Don’t shop when you’re hungry

As they always say, don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. You are much more likely to put things into your basket then that are not on your list.

Compare prices

Check comparative prices in the supermarket. Look at the comparative weights or volumes and compare the price per 100g for each if it is displayed on the supermarket shelf.

Don't necessarily opt for the supermarket offers. Don’t assume that this week’s offer of 2 packs of bacon for £4 is the cheapest way of buying bacon. Look at the area where the other packs of bacon are displayed and compare all the packet prices.

Think if the things you are buying are necessarily cheaper to buy in a larger container. Sometimes it is as cheap to buy two smaller containers.

Look for own brand items, these are usually cheaper than the top brand labels like Heinz or Hellmans, for instance. Also look for the supermarket’s cheap ranges like Sainsbury’s Basics or Tesco’s Value. These are often on the bottom shelf, rather than at eye level, so need to be sought out. Tinned chopped tomatoes are a great basis for many sauces and are usually available in the ‘Value’ or ‘Basics’ ranges.

Shop late in the day

Make yourself familiar with where the marked-down items are displayed, because the items have reached their 'Sell By' date.

Go shopping late in the day when food has been marked down because of the ‘Sell By’ date. As the day goes on, the price often goes down further. Even if you can't use items the same day, most can be frozen for later use. Check the labels to see if the item can be frozen. With meat and fish, if it doesn't tell you on the packaging you can always check at the meat or fish counters.

Don’t waste food

Always refrigerate food as soon as you get home and be aware of ‘Use By’ dates so you can freeze items if you don’t use them in time.

Search out the items in the supermarket which have the best ‘Use By’ date, ie the date which is furthest in the future. These are often tucked away at the back of the shelf.

Think about how you store food so that it will last well in case your plans change. Remember you won’t necessarily be using all the vegetables you’ve bought in one go.

Be aware that boxes of mushrooms will last much better if the cling film is taken off the container as soon as you get them home – otherwise they ‘sweat’ and start to go off much sooner than if they have air around them. Beansprouts keep well if put into a bowl of cold salted water and stored in the fridge. In their original packaging they will start to smell musty after a relatively short storage period in the fridge.

Keep checking your fridge for left-over ingredients and be inventive in ways of eating them up before the ‘Use By’ date. Check those items particularly when you are planning your menu before making your shopping list, so that if you have some food left over you can plan a meal which will use it.

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author avatar Melissa Dawn
3rd Nov 2010 (#)

Great tips especially in these tough economic times.

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author avatar Denise O
5th Jan 2011 (#)

I agree Melissa, great tips for sure.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar TNT_Brian
5th Jan 2011 (#)

good article with great advice throughout. thanks for sharing!

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author avatar Retired
6th May 2012 (#)

This is a good article, especially now when food is so expensive. I have started shopping a t a cheaper supermarket and the food is just as good there, honestly, it is. Not shopping when your hungry is definitely a good tip.

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