Food prices are rising, with steeper costs potentially adding as much as £180 to the average household’s annual grocery bill.
According to analysts Kantar, food bills rose by 3.8% in the four weeks to January 23, with the costs rising particularly sharply for fresh chicken and beef, crisps and snacks and skincare. A spokesman for Kantar said: “We’re now likely to see shoppers striving to keep costs down by searching for cheaper products and promotions. Supermarkets that can offer the best value stand to win the biggest slice of spend.”
Here are five tips that might help you keep food bills down.
Check what you already have
Before doing your next food shop, have a check through your cupboards and see what you can use up first. Jasmine Birtles, money expert and founder of MoneyMagpie.com said: “Spend a week using up the food you have in the freezer and store cupboards. Only buy a few perishable foods to go with what you already have. Anything you realise you will never use could be something you swap with neighbours for items they’re not going to use.”
Use apps and websites to find free or reduced-price food
There are several apps which can help you find cut-price food, or even get food for free. The Olio app, for example, tells you where people and businesses are giving away free food, whilst the Too Good to Go app enables you to buy ‘magic bags’ of food at a substantially reduced cost from local supermarkets and stores. You don’t usually know exactly what you’re going to get, so you may need to be creative with the food you end up with, but often you can get £10 or £15 worth of food for just a couple of pounds.
It’s also worth looking at the Approved Foods website, which sells a wide range of food and drinks, most of which is near to or just past its sell by date, at a heavily discounted price.
Write a menu plan and stick to a budget
Writing a plan of all the meals you’re going to have each week can help keep food waste to a minimum. Where possible, batch cook so you have meals in the freezer for when you need them.
Make sure when you do your supermarket shop that you have a clear budget in mind too. A spokesman for voucher code site NetVoucherCodes.co.uk said: “We’ve all gone into the shop with three things on the list but left with a full basket. Avoid this trap by setting yourself a price limit. Get your budget straight before you head through the doors, withdraw the amount you want to spend at a cash machine and leave your card in the car. This way, you can make sure you’re only spending what you need to spend.”
Change the brands you use
If you tend to stick with the same brands week after week, see if you can move to a cheaper budget or own brands to reduce your food costs. Following pressure by campaigner Jack Monroe, Asda announced this week that it will introduce 200 Smart Price and Farm Store products from its budget range into all its food stores as well as online by March 1. They are currently sold in 300 of its shops.
Use your loyalty points
Lots of us have shop loyalty cards sitting in our wallets with points on them which could get us money off our food shopping. Although points are often worth more if you put them towards rewards rather than your grocery shop, in these tough times, any sort of discount off your food bills is usually helpful.