“How much do you spend on your weekly shop?” is by far one of the most asked questions over on the Bump, Baby & You Facebook group. It’s asked by Mums who want to trim a little off their spend to help stretch their maternity pay further, those feeling the squeeze after a change of circumstances or parents who simply want to free up some cash to spend on other things.
Looking to Save Money on Your Groceries?
As a question that crops up again and again, we thought we’d ask BBYers for their best money-saving tips and share them with you. We started by asking how many homes are looking to cut the amount they spend on food and things like nappies and cleaning products. And, for the most part, those who responded said they wanted to reduce their spend:
- I want to reduce a grocery spend – 3%
- I’m happy with our grocery spend – 6%
Common Money Saving Shopping Habits
Do you use tried and tested tactics to reduce your shopping spend? It sounds simple but meal planning or writing a shopping list can be a really quick way to cut unnecessary spending but it’s not what everyone does. We asked Bump, Baby & You mummies and daddies if they meal plan, use a shopping list or shop around for best deals on nappies and cleaning products rather than buying them all at the supermarket. Here’s what they told us:
Most People Meal Plan
They might do it to varying degrees – some plan out their main meal of the day, while others factor in specific lunch and breakfasts too.
- We meal plan – 89.43%
- We don’t meal plan – 10.56%
Most People Use Shopping Lists
- Write a shopping list – 86%
- Don’t write a shopping list – 13.9%
Most People Shop Around
- We buy all groceries in same place – 41.5%
- We shop around to get best buys –58.49%
11 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Your Family’s Weekly Shop
Want to know how to put together a money saving grocery list? Desperate to reduce your supermarket spend? If you’ve already vowed to avoid shopping hungry, to write a list and to prepare a weekly meal plan so that you don’t resort to multiple top-up shops or reaching for the telephone to order the takeaway… here’s what to do next
1) Swap Where You Shop
If you’re not restricted by location and transport, changing supermarkets can be a fast way to slash prices. Aldi is the fastest growing supermarket as many shoppers have made the swap to it or other discount brand such as Lidl in recent years.
Some families also told us that they save by swapping where they buy certain type of products. Picking up a meat pack at the local butchers, buying fruit and veg at the market or popping to the likes of B&M or Wilkos to buy things like cleaning products or pet food were tactics some parents told us they use to save.
And while swapping branded goods for own-brand is a shopping saving tip that’s frequently quoted, you can choose to mix and match and still save. You could use mysupermarket to check where your shopping basket will be cheapest on a weekly basis. We do a big monthly online shop at Tesco for the foods we can’t get in Aldi, but our weekly shop is at the local Aldi.
Chloe MacNaught: “Since my car broke I’ve done online shopping and it’s made it cheaper as i used to always add extra stuff I didn’t need in my trolley because I have no self control when it’s comes to food.”
2) Supercharge Your Meal Planning
Meal planning is a great idea, just knowing you have all you need to make a meal in can stop you from extra spending. However, to make real savings you might need to up the ante a bit and to adopt some traditional food-stretching strategies too!
Instead of planning your meals for a week – could you plan them across the month? Doing so can allow you to access cheaper prices by buying bigger joints of meat or packs of mince or to could mean unlocking a discount on nappies. We recently swapped to monthly meal planning and while it took a little longer to find meals that shared common ingredients, we managed to shave £100 on the total cost of our shopping across the month!
For meat eaters, learning how to stretch a joint of meat across four meals by making soups, risottos, pastas, pies, casseroles, salads or even sandwiches can substantially lower spend. And if you make use of your freezer, you don’t need to eat the same thing for days on end.
Louise-Patricia Dalby: “My shop is max £100 a month that’s with an allergy child (dairy eggs oranges ) and me having to have a low salt low fat diet. I make sure to use every part of a chicken so it lasts longer same with beef joints and pork joints I get two-three days worth of meals out of them plus leftovers in my freezer.”
3) Create Your Family’s Meal Planning Formula
Do you have family favourite meals in rotation? Some super planned mamas told us they actually have a list of money saving meals they simply rotate. Others try to stick to a formula when meal planning. This could be having a few meat free days, ensuring there’s a weekly fish meal in there, a meat-based dinner and potentially a couple of rice or pasta-based dishes to help keep costs down. We adopt this strategy in our house and it helps ensure we have plenty of variety through the week without getting too carried away with spending.
4) Get Savvy With Snacks
Hands up who is basically a toddler’s snack dispenser now? It’s good to take snacks out with you as it can be expensive to feed the food pit when we’re out and about. However, some of the supermarket toddler snacks are so expensive! My two-year old’s obsession with Bear Claws costs us more than it should but I’m a real advocate for DIY snacks where possible.
We pop things like chopped cucumber or sliced olive and ham in pots. Buying a big bag of raisins or dried apricots is far cheaper than those little snack packs too. And when we have time, we bake things like pinwheels, mini pasties or biscuits to keep in the freezer and take out when we need them. Could swapping packaged snacks for homemade help you save?
5) Get Friendly With Your Freezer
Keeping a stock of frozen fruit and vegetables is one of the best ways to save on grocery shopping. Not only does it tend to be cheaper, but it can also help to reduce waste. If you want to take some money off your shopping, a good start is to think about how you can use your freezer more. Freeze leftovers from joints of meat for use on another day or portion up leftover meals or soup with the same aim.
Got some fruit that’s looking a little sorry for itself? Blend and freeze to make smoothie lollies. We heard from some super prepped shoppers who chop fresh fruit and veg and freeze, which is a great tip if you like to take advantage of offers or buy yellow sticker items. Equally, whole or part of bread loaves will happily live in the freezer until you need them.
Sara Roberts: “I have adopted my friends way her cupboards are full of everything, every time she uses something she replaces it and stock rotates, that way if she is ever stuck she only needs fresh stuff and she can also make meals from the cupboard and freezer, she buys fresh fruit and veg and chops it all and then freezes them, she then uses what she needs no waste.”
6) Swap to Cloth Nappies
We recently talked about the cost of nappies in our Best Nappies Awards and there’s no getting round the fact buying disposable nappies can really bump up monthly costs. While purchasing cloth nappies has a larger up-front outlay and laundry costs too, it could help you to shave money off your shop over a longer period. Plus, cloth nappies can be used for a second baby or sold on to recoup some of the money.
7) Learn to Love Leftovers
Some people feel a little uncomfortable eating leftovers. There are so many warnings about the potential of food poisoning from eating food that’s passed its best. I’m the first to admit that I try to avoid eating the same meal for days on end too – but I realise that I’m lucky to be able to vary my meals a lot. In our quest to waste as little as possible, we’ll always freeze any leftover meal portions or eat them the next day. We also freeze odds and ends of veg to use in soup, along with leftover homemade stock and sauces. If you feel nervous about using leftovers the NHS has some great advice on how to safely store and eat them.
8) Batch and Slow Cook
I bloody love our slow cooker. It’s a time saver because for most meals we can chuck everything in and leave it. And, it’s a money saver because it stops us from ordering takeaway or cooking more expensive processed food when we need to get tea on the table quickly. Casseroles, curries even bread or puddings can be cooked in it. And again, leftover portions go into the freezer. Cooking fresh just isn’t always possible due to work commitments or other time constraints, so batch cooking meals is also a winner for us. I prep a few breakfasts I can grab and go with at the start of the week and lunches are also batched too.
Claire Harrison: “We are £100 a month for food. This is for me hubby and daughter… This includes having to buy dairy free food for my lg. We meal plan and only buy what we need to make meals for that month. I bulk buy my meat and freeze it. We do frozen veg but I do buy fresh veg occasionally. I live with my slow cooker on most days too.”
9) Bulk it Out
If you’re a meat eater, bulking out meals with lentils or other pulses or even making a swap, could help you to make more portions for less. Lentils work really well in bolognese, chickpeas go fabulous in rice dishes and adding chopped (or blended!) veg to lots of different recipes can really help you to stretch it further and can mean you have enough left over for dinner on another day.
10) Use Discount Vouchers and Codes
If you need a short-term fix to help you lower the cost of your shopping in a particular month, shopping online with a new customer discount code could help. Retailers offer all sorts of enticing discounts to encourage you to try them out – offers vary between supermarkets from month to month but could typically be a percentage off a shop over a certain amount or £20 or £30 off your shop.
11) Stock Check
Is your tin cupboard packed full of endless tins of tomatoes? Got more dried basil than you’ll need for the next decade? Guessing what you have in the cupboards and freezer is the fast route to unnecessary spending. Before each shop, familiarise yourself with what you’ve got in and you’ll leave yourself with more cash for what you actually need. Ensuring you always have store cupboard essentials like dried herbs, stock cubes and dried pasta means you can usually put together some kind of meal at short notice if you have to.
Is cutting your grocery spend one of your goals for 2019? If you’re already a super savvy shopper, what’s your best tip for slashing the cost of your supermarket shop? Read about Bump, Baby & You editor Katie Hodgkins’ goals for parenthood in 2019 in Promises to my son in 2019.