Grocery Shopping Tips: How To Reduce Your Weekly Shop

L.A Rads


Publish Date

17 June 2022


Last Modified

8 August 2022

Food shopping is one of the necessities we'll never get rid of. We're always going to need to eat and therefore always going to need to buy food.

Many of our monthly expenses are increasing now, and most of them we have no ability to change. Our weekly food shop is perhaps one of the only things we can gain some element of control over. But working out how reduce our weekly shop is not always easy.

Below we will list some of our top tips, tricks and advice to help you cut down those costs on your weekly grocery shop.

Avoid Their Upsell Tactics

Supermarkets want you to spend money, and lots of it. They will go to a lot of effort to entice you in and encourage you to buy products you don't need. From treats that we really shouldn't be wasting our money on, to products that have cheaper alternatives.

They do this through a carefully planned floor plan and subtle manipulation, all designed for the one purpose of encouraging you to go “ok, yes, I want that”. The only advice I can give is to make sure you're aware what the tactics are and to go into the supermarket with a mindset of “I must avoid those temptations”.

Here is a list of some of their tricks.

  • Tempting treats and luxuries located at the tills so you can't miss them.
  • The products they want you to buy being located at the end of isles, in the hopes you take those and don't explore other, potentially cheaper options on the isles themselves.
  • The most expensive products being placed at eye level. For example, you will likely find Heinz Baked Beans located at eye level and budget brands on lower shelves where you would have to intentionally go out of your way to see.
  • Sneaky layout designed to encourage you to walk around the entire store, just like IKEA, although maybe not quite as bad.
  • Flashy ‘sale' signs that can quite often be used to draw your attention to a product that has only a small reduction and which is likely still more expensive than a cheaper alternative.

Know Your Budget

If you're anything like me, grocery shopping is never as simple as £100 per week. One week I may spend £80 on my shop, the next it could be £150, so budgeting can sometimes be quite difficult.

There are however a few simple principles you could adopt to make this a little easier to prepare for.

Generally, fluctuations in spending come down to whether or not you're doing a light shop of only the things you need for that week, or a large shop where you're stocking up on those products that you use for a longer period. If you end up spending your entire weekly budget on a light shop, you can quickly find yourself out of pocket when you need to stock up on those other products.

The easiest way to avoid finding yourself in need of these products but with no money to pay for them is to keep a budget to one side to pay for those miscellaneous products, such as shampoo or cleaning products.  

I'm sure at this point you're thinking ‘yes, but how much should I be saving'. I will share with you how I try to simply calculate this, without spending too much time over preparing. I usually do the following in a spreadsheet, but it is entirely up to you how you wish to do it.

  • Establish your average weekly budget. If you're paid monthly, work out how much of your salary can go towards your grocery shopping, times that by 12 and then divide that by 52.
  • Identify which products you buy monthly and which you buy weekly (for ease I always assume that if it's not a weekly purchase, its monthly)
  • Decide on a quantity of how much of it you buy monthly (for example, you may buy baked beans in bulk and it last you 3 months, but try to estimate how much you use monthly to therefore work out the monthly spend)
  • Estimate the value of the product and then times that by the quantity to work out how much you spend in total per product
  • Total together all product spend to establish your total monthly spend on everything that you buy monthly. This will give you an estimate of how much you need to save each month to account for the products you buy less frequent.
  • To establish how much this would be on a weekly basis, simply times the total spend by 12 and then divide that by 52.
  • Finally, deduct this weekly spend from your monthly budget that you worked out in step one, and you are left with your weekly budget to be spent on your weekly shop, excluding those miscellaneous products.

Plan Your Meals

Once you've worked out your weekly budget, the next thing to do is establish you daily budget, which is as simple as dividing your weekly budget by 7. If for example your budget is £150, your daily budget would therefore be £21.42.

We do of course have three meals a day to consider. I personally find the easiest thing to do is start with your plans for breakfast and lunch since these quite often involve products that can last the week, such as cereal and bread, then deduct your spend on these products from your total weekly budget, divide the remaining amount by 7 and then you have your daily budget for your evening meals. 

Creating a shopping list is not only the best way to make sure you stick to your budget, but it's also a handy technic to prevent your spending money frivolously on things you don't need. Unfortunately, I'm a supermarkets favourite customer. I'm easily tempted by delicious looking food and seem to lose all will power to say no to what I want when I step my foot through the door.  

Alternate Between Supermarkets

Sometimes it's easy to fall into the trap of going to your local supermarket, simply because it is easier. But, depending on what you buy, it may not be the best value for money. Before you go, perhaps consider doing a little online research to see which supermarket sells your needed ingredients at the best price.

This is also the perfect opportunity to buy those monthly products at their best prices too, even if you don't yet need them. For example, you may find that ASDA is the best supermarket to buy the ingredients for this week's meals and that ASDA also sells your favourite washing powder at the best price. Even if you don't need this yet, perhaps you could stock up on it ready for when you do because next week you may decide that Tesco is the best option for your planned meals.

Don't forget its now easier than ever to shop online where you can see multiple supermarkets product prices all in one place, it maybe as easy as loggining on to an Amazon account you already have to make use of their service where they have partnered up with Morrisons and currently offer £10 of the first order over £60. Ordering in bulk is made more convenient with online shopping preventing you having to lug it all home yourself.

Finally, don't forget to consider supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl or even the likes of Home Bargains, Wilkos or B & M Bargains who all stock a range of both fresh and dried grocery products as well as personal and household hygiene products. They can work out a lot cheaper and quite often supply everything you need.

Buy at the right times

Knowing when the supermarket is discounting fresh items it needs to shift because it's almost expired its best before date is a great way of getting a bargain. This usually happens later on in the day so isn't easy for everyone to do but if you have the time and know when to swoop it's easy to get items for that nights evening meal that will taste fine and cost a lot less.

Things like bread only have a short shelf life so most supermarkets will have items left over, eggs are a great one to look out for as they can last for many days after the best before date. Taking this approach can also make you more adventurous with your food and mean you try a new recipe with a cut of meat you wouldn't usually pick but at a fraction of the cost giving you a great way to save a few pounds.

Just remember to make sure the discounted price goes through at the till otherwise you have just paid full price for something that's only going to be any good for a limited time but if you can master this technique, you will be saving not only money but the amount of food that is wasted and just thrown away.

Finally, if you do decide to take this approach it can sometimes be hard to plan your meals in advance. That's alright, just remember to monitor your spend against the daily budget you've worked out already.

BOGOF (but only on products you would normally buy)

No, we're not being rude, Buy One Get One Free offers can be found from time to time on a lot of products and are definitely worth keeping your eyes out for. As with all products though make sure you read the price label and understand the offer comparing its price and volume to the other products on the shelf.

The supermarkets aim is to make as much profit out of you as possible so make sure the offer is actually worth it. Make sure it's something you are going to need that much of and you actually like that particular item. Make sure in the excitement of thinking you are getting a bargain you aren't missing another just as good or even better offer on a better quality item or for a volume of the product you are actually needing and have space for.

As with discount products in the previous point it's also a good idea when at the check out to make sure the offers goes through. there is nothing worse than getting home and checking your receipt only to find that there has been an error with the till, and it hasn't honoured the discount and you just have twice as much of an item at the full price – a win for the supermarket but not for your wallet or purse. 

Try the downshift challenge

We all love the named brands and gravitate to them as we feel on safe ground and there is something to be said for “you get what you pay for” but is this always the case? There are probably going to be some items in your basket that don't necessarily warrant this approach and until you have tried the alternative you are never going to know and therefore not make that saving.

Next time you go shopping try one of the home brands or lesser known items and see what you think, it may turn out that the supermarkets home brand chopped tomatoes taste just as good in your bolognaise sauce as the branded variety and it could save 50% or more on the price. You can then work through your shopping list and try a different item each week, if you like the alternative or can't tell the difference bag the saving, if not go back to your preferred item, then move on to the next, you will probably be surprised at what you can save.

Don't go shopping when you're hungry

Have you ever been starving on your grocery trip and after wondered why it cost you so much?

Going into a supermarket while hungry can be a big mistake, not only do you have to fight off your senses being bombarded by the smell of freshly cooked bread and pastries, roasted chicken and bacon or sausage rolls you also have ready to eat food on every shelf calling to your inner hunger and distracting you from making rash choices.

Going shopping in this state is sure to lead to you coming away with mainly junk food that will solve your immediate hunger problem but will have blown your budget and left your cupboards looking a bit bare for the rest of the week. 

Take your own bags

Over recent years the drive to reduce the plastics that are getting into our water systems has led to free shopping bags becoming something from the past. While we probably all agree that reducing the plastic getting into our water is a good thing it has led to us having to make sure we are taking our reusable bags every time we go shopping.

The penalty for not doing this means you will be forking out 20p to 30p for the cheapest bags available and for a grocery shopping visit of £100 this could lead to you having to buy 5-6 bags to get your shopping home. When you actually think about it, this simple mistake could see you spending 1-2% of your £100 budget just on the bags to carry it, while this may not seem like that much now and again, if it happens every time over all the visits you make every year this does add up and ultimately isn't helping the plastic waste problem it was designed to solve.

With all this in mind it can be well worth making sure you are not forgetting to take those reusable bags on your next shopping trip for both your pocket and the environment.  If you want to stand out in the crowd and make the ultimate commitment to sustainability why not invest in a proper shopping bag or basket that could truly last a lifetime.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own doesn't have to be an option only for those with a garden or avid lovers. If the effort of growing your own veg doesn't float your boat there are many plants, such as herbs, that can be super easy to look after but could save you a pretty penny in the long run.

We have a bay tree in our garden that we use all the time and which loves to grow. We love bay leaves for our tomato-based dishes, and I would say we use roughly 7 bay leaves a week, if we were to buy them, they would cost us roughly £1 per week. That's £52 a year. We bought the tree 3 years ago for £10, it took us 10 weeks to make our money back and every week after that has saved us that little extra on our weekly shop.


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