How to save money on your food shopping

As supermarkets cut prices to help shoppers cope with the cost of living crisis, here are eight other ways to spend less on your food shopping

Full shopping cart in supermarket aisle
Cut the cost of your food shopping
(Image credit: Getty images)

Spiking fuel costs will cause the price of groceries and food in restaurants to rise, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors has warned.

The trade body told the BBC its members would pass on transportation costs to food industry customers.

“Food price inflation is already happening, but this is going to make it worse, because there’ll be charges passed on to customers and then obviously to end users as well,” chief executive James Bielby told the broadcaster.

According to data analysts Kantar, food prices soared at their fastest rate in thirteen years. Its research shows food price inflation hit 4.3% last month (February), and the impact of the financial squeeze is starting to kick in with our supermarket shopping habits.  

Households spent an average of £26 less last month at the tills, with ‘own brand’ sales outselling brands for the first time in three months.

Major supermarkets are also slashing hundreds of prices to help battle for shoppers feeling the pinch from the cost of living crisis. 

To help you tackle the increasing costs of your food shopping, here are our easy ways to save on your supermarket shop.

Save money on food shopping: go to the cheapest supermarket

Switching supermarkets to find a cheaper one can mean savings really stack up over the course of a year. 

Discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl are known for budget prices, (and top quality food).  Lidl was the cheapest place to shop last month compared with all the other supermarkets, according to Which? research -  based on the daily prices of a basket of twenty three items including basics like eggs, apples and bread.

According to Which? a basket costs £24.21 at Lidl, just 62p more at Aldi, and while Asda was the cheapest of the ‘big four’ supermarkets, the same basket of shopping still came in at over £27.  It may not seem like much, but a weekly saving of £3 a week can mean £150 a year.

Top tip: take a look at the Trolley app to compare the cheapest supermarket for your food shopping.

Switch to supermarket own brands to save money on food costs

Switching over to supermarket own brands is an easy way to save and can knock pounds off your bills if you swap down a brand on everything you buy. 

For example, if you always buy branded baked beans, swap for the supermarket own version, and if you already buy this, then hunt for its ‘value’ or ‘basic’ version.

The savings can really add up. For example, if you buy Homepride flour, it will cost you £1.50 for 1kg. Switch to Tesco's own brand and it will cost you 70p for 1.5kg, or just 45p if you opt for the value brand (Stockwell & Co) for 1.5kg.

And if you buy pasta, the the Napolina brand would cost £1.15 for 500g, but Tesco's own brand would cost 70p. Switch to the value brand (Hearty Food & Co), it would be just 29p for the same amount.

You may be pleasantly surprised as own brands often fare well in taste tests. There’s bound to be some items you like and are happy to buy again, while with others you may want to stick with your favourite brand, say chocolate biscuits, but with others you won’t know the difference - especially with staples like tinned tomatoes, flour or spaghetti.

Shop later in the day to save money on food

Shopping later in the day can boost your chances of snapping up items with those yellow ‘reduced’ stickers that pop up on fresh food that needs to be eaten that day. 

Discounts often start from around midday, and can go up throughout the day, to around 75% during the evening. Supermarkets may start their ‘discounting’ at different times of day, but if you shop in the same one regularly, you’ll probably get to know when this is. 

In most cases they have special ‘reduced’ aisles, so worth hanging around for a bit if it’s looking empty, and then you can hunt through, snap up the bargains, and if you don’t need them that day, pop them in the freezer. 

Buy supermarket leftovers

Food waste apps like Too Good To Go mean you can make big savings on leftover food from supermarkets including Morrisons, Co-op, Nisa and Spar, as well as cafes and restaurants. 

Download the free app to see what’s available locally.  Only thing is you can’t be too fussy with this as it’s usually a ‘mystery bag’ style offer, though you may get some idea upfront what’s in it.   

Prices start from just over £2 in some cases, and as a general rule you’ll usually get three times the amount of food for the price you pay, so once again stick it in the freezer if you can’t use it all.

Buy out of date food (safely)

We’re not suggesting you eat anything beyond its ‘Use By’ date, which is there for safety, but when it comes to the ‘Best Before’ date, this is an indication of optimum quality.

With warehouses like Approved Foods, you can buy items nearing their ‘best before’ date including biscuits, tinned food, jams, spreads and snacks and breakfast cereals at knockdown prices.  

You get free delivery over £55 otherwise you pay from £3.

Make a shopping list to spend less at the supermarket

This isn’t rocket science, but checking your cupboards and making a list before you hit the supermarket aisles, whether the virtual or bricks and mortar version, can save costly impulse buys.  

Take a look at the Kitche app for a helping hand to keep track of what you have in your store-cupboard and fridge. The app, which is free, aims to help you reduce food waste and save money by making sure you eat what you buy with reminders and receipes if you're not sure what to make.

Check for buy one get one free deals

Snapping up a ‘buy one get one free’ deal or ‘3 for 2’ can be good value if you’re buying things you really want. Just be sure it is something you can pop in the freezer or stock up on, such as toiletries and cleaning products like toothpaste or toilet roll.

However it’s a false economy if you splash out and spend more just to get the ‘freebie’ - so make sure it is something you will use and the saving is worthwhile. 

 Find supermarket coupons 

Coupons are not as common as they used to be, but you may still find them in supermarket magazines, giving you money off specific products.

You can also get some money back on your shopping or grab some items for free using apps such as Shopmium or CheckoutSmart

Both apps feature regular offers from major supermarkets. On Shopmium, for example, you can buy a 500g box of Cheerios cereal for 50p or try an Ambrosia porridge pot for free. On CheckoutSmart, you could try a pack of Organix crisps or a Rubicon drink for free. 

When you buy something featured, you will have to upload your receipt and the app will then give you cashback - paid directly into your bank account.

Make sure you upload your receipt or online delivery note before the offer expires and be sure to keep your receipt until you get your cashback incase there is an issue. 

And of course, remember, the savings are only a saving if it is something you intended to buy regardless of the cashback offer. 

Additional reporting by the Press Association

Sue Hayward
Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!