Updated: May 15, 2020
Food can be expensive! I’ve compiled 10 great and easy ways to reduce your grocery bill. These aren't the generic tips you always see.
Please note: I'm English. And married Golden Goose Guy, who is American. So I've translated into USD but used my old and faithful UK grocery stores as examples, although I have thrown in American suggestions so we can all relate. Hopefully these tips are pretty general and can be used for all countries!
1) Shop wholesale - Bulk means discounts.
I think this is actually pretty widely known, but bulk buying is amazing! (And yes, we have the queen of bulk buy, Costco, dotted throughout the UK.)
When it comes to bulk buying, obviously don’t buy more than you can eat, but for dried or canned pantry items, it can mean big savings. It also reduces plastic waste and can be kept in pretty glass jars!
As an example:
Tescos 500g bag rice is 79p - that's £1.58/kg
Costco 20kg rice is £19.99 - that's £0.99/kg
Tescos 500g bag rice is $0.97 - that's $1.95/kg
Costco 20kg rice is $24.63 - that's $1.22/kg
2) Shop when the time is right.
Firstly, go to the shops unhungry. Preferably after dinner as this is when they put the reduced items out. At 5pm shops will do a first discount to about 10-30%. After 8pm they put out the discounts of around 50-75%. Huge savings!
3) Too Good To Go.
(Not sponsored) 'Too Good To Go' is an app me and Josh LOVE. Restaurants, bakeries and cafes sell mystery bags of delicious left over food at the end of the day, saving it from the bin. You pay anywhere from £1-£5 for these mystery bags. Unfortunately the app is only available in the UK and 8 other European countries, but hopefully it will make its way across the pond soon. There are a few US apps like this that are city specific, so check online to see if there's one near to you.
We were hungry after going to the climbing gym and picked a bag from a bakery near Brighton. We bought 2 mystery bags and paid a total of £5.98 and got a freshly baked loaf of bread, tuna baguette, plus everything below, Crazy, right?!
4) Prepare your snacks.
Getting peckish out and about means you'll probably go and buy an overpriced, heavily packaged snack. Try and prepare by having ready make snacks on you, or in your house so you don’t buy anything out and about.
My favourite snack is pre-packaged crunchy breadsticks, cheese dip and pesto. Bought readymade is £4.20 ($5.19) for a pack of 6. Homemade is £2.25 ($2.78) for slightly over 6 portions.
5) Homemade pre-made.
This can be hard...but don’t buy as much ready made or pre-packaged food. In England this is the norm anyway. You can easily buy ready grated cheese, pre-cut fruit and precooked meals, but they are certainly not a weekly staple for most people (a far cry from America!). It's very nice to have this pre-prepared food though, so prepare it in advance. Eating fresh is also far healthier and saves the world from more plastic packaging.
Tescos pre cut watermelon fingers are £0.60/90g - thats £0.66/100g
Tescos fresh whole watermelon is £2.79/7000g - thats £0.03p/100g
Tescos pre cut watermelon fingers are $0.74/90g - thats $0.81/100g
Tescos fresh whole watermelon is $3.44/7000g - thats $0.04/100g
6) Don’t choose brand names.
We’re all sentimental about some die hard brand buys, but most branded/non-branded food is exactly the same. Youtube has recently been flooded with videos of people trying branded/non-branded items and the results are unsurprising...most people couldn’t tell the difference or preferred the off brand.
Dolmio tomato pasta sauce is £2.00 per 350g jar - that's £0.57/100g
Tescos tomato pasta sauce is £0.48 per 440g jar - that's £0.11/100g
If you eat pasta once a week you can save £79.04 ($97.58) a year just by changing your sauce!!!
Even more staggering...
I added up the price for a branded weekly shop and the exact copy in non-branded products.
Branded shop = £33.10
Non-branded shop = £13.30
That’s a saving of £19.80 ($24.44) per week - 60%! Thats £1,029.60 ($1,270.99) a year!!
Obviously this doesn’t include things like Christmas or other big events…but you get the idea. That's HUGE. Think about that…You do a non-branded shop for 20-40 years and you’ve saved up £41,184 ($50,842). A house deposit. Or a huge investment pool.
7) Avoid expensive takeaways.
Sometimes you come home from work late and you can’t be bothered to cook. Have easy food in the freezer ready for that lazy day. You can freeze a portion of something pre-cooked or even have in a frozen pizza from the supermarket. This will deter you from ordering a pricey takeaway.
A large Margherita pizza from Domino's is £16.99 ($20.97)
A large Goodfellas Margherita pizza is £2.25 ($2.78)
8) Plan your dang foooood!
Get organised before you hit the supermarket. With a list you’re less likely to buy food you don’t need. Do some recipe research, make a list, and come up with a game plan. By planning, you’ll get full use of the ingredients you do buy and won’t end up throwing food away.
9) Don’t punish yourself.
There’s always money for a treat. If you fancy eating out a couple times a month then do! But think about where you might like to eat and look online. In the UK, ‘Ask Italian’ has a mailing list which regularly has 25% off vouchers flooding into my mailbox. Similarly Pizza Express, Prezzo and Zizzi’s all have voucher codes online. Josh reliably informs me that in the US, Panera Bread has a member scheme doing similar things and you can often find coupons for places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Dairy Queen, etc…
In the UK, if you work for the NHS (our incredible health service), you can show your ID and get anywhere from 25-50% discount in most restaurants and takeaways.
10) Educate yourself.
Around you there are many, many local resources. You may have a community fridge you can use and contribute to. We have an abundance of beautiful fruit trees in a field by our house and our neighbours' garden. In England people may leave out free eggs or baskets of fruit for people to take if their chickens/trees have produced enough for them. In the US there are lots of schemes where you return cans and jars and can get money for doing so.
Read blogs like this or watch videos like Taz’s ‘Living on £1 for a week’ challenge.
I hope I've given you some hearty ideas to kickstart your money saving habits when it comes to your grocery shopping. Please feel free to share your tips and tricks in the comments.
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- Belle x (Golden Goose Girl)
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