Slash Your Weekly Food Spend: Planning Your Food Shopping
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
If you’ve noticed your weekly shopping bill is costing more than ever, you’re not alone.
According to independent price checker website www.mysupermarket.com our weekly shop has increased by a massive 20 percent in the past year – equal to an extra £1,040 per year based on an average supermarket spend of £100 a week. Even worse, the increase has particularly hit healthy foods such as bread, fruit, veg, potatoes, milk, cheese, meat, pasta and rice.
One of the sure fire ways of making sure you curb your spending on food is to plan, in advance, what you are going to cook and eat in the following week making sure that, when you go shopping you are only buying what you need.
Follow my tips to help you plan and shop more effectively.
Menu Planning and Daily Calorie Allowance
Once a week, work out a menu plan of what you’ll eat over the next week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Make sure all your dishes will fit into your daily calorie allowance then make a shopping list. This will keep you focused in the supermarket and help to avoid impulse buys. Try our four week budget diet plan.
Learn Your Favourite Supermarket Layout
Use the same supermarket to do your shopping each week. Once you’ve learnt the layout you’ll be able to avoid the aisles with biscuits, cakes, confectionery, crisps and booze – basically all the foods that tend to be expensive but high in calories, fat, saturates, sugars and/or salt!
Consider Supermarket ‘Own Brands’
Choose supermarket ‘own brands’ – they’re usually cheaper than other brands without containing more fat and calories (although it’s still always worth checking the label). Many supermarkets also have ‘economy’, ‘value’ or ‘budget’ brands for foods like potatoes, fresh and canned vegetables and fruit, beans, wholemeal bread, milk, orange juice, chicken pieces, pasta and rice, which are even cheaper than own label brands.
Not So ‘Special Offers’
Be wary of special offers – most supermarkets offer a range of ‘Buy One Get One Free’, ‘Half Price’ or ‘25% Extra’ deals. Choose carefully though. Deals for fatty and sugary products might save you £££s but won’t help you lose lbs! Similarly, think about whether you’ll really eat the extra food – it’s not a bargain if you end up throwing half of it away because it’s past its ‘Use By’ date. Alternatively, consider sharing ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offers with a slimming friend and split the price so you both truly get a bargain in terms of both cash and calories.
Check Food Storage Space
Check the amount of storage space you have in your fridge and freezer before going to the supermarket. There’s no point stocking up on reduced-price items such as bread and chilled ready meals if you don’t want to eat them immediately and then find you don’t have room to freeze them.
Check ‘Use By’ Dates
Always check the ‘Use By’ dates on packaging to make sure you’ll be able to use the foods while they’re still safe to eat. Don’t be afraid to rummage around to find products that have the longest shelf life – foods with longer ‘Use By’ dates are often at the back!
Try Local Markets For Fruit and Veg
Fruit and veg from your local market or greengrocers are often cheaper than supermarkets, although you’ll probably pay a lot more at farmer’s markets. If you’re not able to pick your own produce, check the quality in the bag before you leave the stall or shop so you can swap any items that might be past their best.
Store Card Savings and Vouchers
Use your store card to knock money off your shopping bill. Save ‘money off’ vouchers from newspapers, magazines and store card mailouts, too. If you already buy the products, using them can help to knock pounds off your weekly bill.
Internet Shopping vs Weekly Visit to Supermarket
Consider whether you actually save time by doing your weekly shop on the Internet. If not, go back to the supermarket. You’ll burn twice as many calories doing your shopping in the store (around 200 calories per hour) as you would sitting in front of the computer (around 100 calories per hour) – and you’ll save the delivery charge.
WLR planning tools can help with your meal planning and shopping lists as well as some great articles about making a healthier choice. Try it free for 24 hours.