Food shopping is something that we all have to do and if you’re on a limited budget, it can be quite a difficult and stressful job. Here are some ideas to try and help make it a bit easier for you.

1. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry
If you shop when you’re hungry, you tend to add snacks and other things which you wouldn’t usually buy, so make sure you’ve eaten before you go and don’t get tempted!

2. Plan meals ahead
Plan your meals for the week beforehand so that you only buy what’s on the menu.  Cook meals from scratch, rather than buy ready meals – in the long run, you’ll build up a stock cupboard of essentials which will last you quite a while and the basic ingredients will then be cheaper in the long run. Plus – you’re in control of the salt and sugar levels you are putting into each meal – now that’s got to be a big added bonus!

3. Avoid impulse buying and take a list!
When you’ve finished planning, write your list and stick to it especially if you take the children along to “help”!  Don’t buy ‘diced or sliced’ anything – buy a whole pineapple or mango and do it yourself! No – the kids don’t need sweets, biscuits, cakes or any other expensive sugary items!  Carrot, celery and cucumber sticks are a lot better for them and cost less too!

Tip: If you don’t want to take a reel of paper out with you or a notepad, make use of the notes feature on your phone and use that to build up your shopping list!

4. Don’t be choosy!
Avoid prepacked fruit and vegetables – scrabble around the boxes for individual items and get just the number you need.  Don’t worry if the carrots aren’t straight or the potatoes are strange shapes – they’re still full of goodness inside!  Check the ‘reduced shelves’ too – it might just be the packaging that’s damaged and the food inside is okay, or perhaps one item of the pack is missing.  Maybe you can freeze it to use another day – there are bargains to be had so it’s always worth taking a look. Don’t automatically overlook no-name or store brand items. Many are made by the brand name companies, but just have a different label.

5. Only buy what you need
Only buy what you need and can afford.  3-for-1 deals are only good deals if you can use all three!  If you can’t use all three before the expiry date and the item isn’t suitable for freezing, you’ve wasted money for nothing.

6. Don’t go shopping every day
Only go shopping once a week so that you learn to make do with what you’ve got in the fridge, freezer or pantry until the next shopping expedition. If you do need something, then shop in a familiar store so you know where to head for and don’t get waylaid by other products in your search!

7. Coupons
Keep an eye out in magazines for coupons – it’s worth using them even to get a few pence off your shopping. Check online too – there are coupon and voucher sites which also offer you money-off tickets so make sure you print them off and hand them in at the checkout.

Have you got any tips which you use to save money?  If so, share them with us over on Facebook and Twitter.

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