he food and toiletries shop is an essential part of household and family life. Step Change guideline figures (Oct 2014) for a household that features two adults and two kids, suggests that 35% of the monthly family budget would be spent on food and toiletries. So, if you get it right, better budgeting and money managing in this area can really help you make your money go further.

Here are our top tips to get the best out of your shopping trips.

  1. Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Pretty self explanatory. Most of us have heard of this phrase but how many of us actually do it. The hungrier you are whilst shopping, the more likely you’ll be to buy more. And in most cases it tends to be the comfort foods. Either shop on a full stomach or drink a pint of water before hand.

  1. Cut your food and cut your shopping bill

Life is fast for some people, so it’s easy and tempting to buy things like pre cut veg, pre grated cheese and pre diced meats etc. But these items tend to be more expensive or you get less quantity for your money. Spending a little less in the aisles and a little more time on the chopping board can definitely help save some cash. 

  1. Does paying with cash save you money?

If you pay for goods on a payment card it can offer more flexibility around your shopping list, enabling you to buy things you hadn’t planned, but shopping when you have a pre-defined budget and paying by cash is more likely to stop you overspending. An easy way of sticking to a budget is to only take cash to the shops. This way you won’t be as likely to spend more on non-essential shopping list items. It’s quite a discipline to master but reaps rewards in the long run.

However, you may need to also consider the advantages of online shopping and home delivery as doing it this way can stop you from deviating from your main shopping list, especially if you have a list saved or favourite for easy reference. If it costs you on average more than £3 to £4 to get to the shops then home delivery may well offer overall savings.

  1. Take our taste challenge

Supermarket own brand products – what’s the difference?

It’s been reported that most people would probably not know the difference between premium and own brand products in a taste test so it could be argued that the biggest difference is price rather than taste. In some instances the manufacturers of top selling products will also make own brand products for the supermarkets. If you want to put the theory to the test try a taste test between McVities chocolate digestives, Weetabix and Muller yogurts vs the own label equivalents. Can you can taste the difference? Own brand soap and hair products can also save you pounds as well.

  1. Why should I use a loyalty card?

If you’re a regular at a supermarket which has a loyalty card scheme such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons then make sure you collect your points and discount / cashback vouchers every time you visit as you’ll get rewards based on your spending over time. However don’t be tempted to buy things you don’t usually buy just because you have a discount voucher and it’s worth looking at how you can maximise your points by taking the cash or swapping them for activities etc.

  1. Make sure you’re getting the best price – use a barcode scanner

Have you used your smartphone whilst shopping to scan the barcodes? It could help you identify what the price of the same product is at other retailers, meaning you can instantly tell if you’re paying more than you should.  You’ll be able to find them in the app store of your relevant phone manufacturer.

  1. Should I take my kids shopping?

OK, so this is a tough one because there are pros and cons. If you take them and they ask for treats it can add to your bill. If you leave them at home there may be a childcare cost. However it’s also worth thinking about how important it is to help your children to understand good money management, shopping on a budget and how to shop wisely.

  1. Buying bulk food – yes or no?

Always check the cost per gram or per unit on an item by dividing total cost by the number of units or grams.  Many supermarkets do show it on the shelf edge, price markers. Some supermarkets have recently been criticised for promoting multi-buy deals when the cost per gram of smaller products works out cheaper. If it’s a product you’re likely to use without having any leftovers then it makes perfect sense, otherwise throwing away the stuff you don’t eat or use is throwing money in the bin. If you shop at a wholesaler like Costco then it’s always worth considering if the savings you make buying in bulk also offset the cost of membership and any wastage you may encounter.

  1. Supermarket offers on aisle ends

Supermarkets charge brands more to feature their products on aisle ends as it is more noticeable. With this in mind you can normally find some good offers on branded items. Though if they aren’t on offer don’t be sucked in to buying just because you’ve noticed the flashy signs and exclamation marks.

  1. Plan carefully – with your money and your meal planning

If you ever have to do a top-up shop or get items from a local convenience store during the week then make sure you’re not paying more. The prices of products in smaller, local supermarket stores can be marginally higher than in the bigger store. It’s because you’re paying for convenience amongst other things.  There may be more perishable items that you have to shop more frequently for like milk, bread, fruit and veg, but try not to pay more than you have to. Plan your main shop carefully and you’ll be less likely to run out of groceries. It can also pay to plan your menus ahead, and freeze what you don’t eat for another day.

  1. Buy branded products at low prices

Over recent years a new range of discount food shops have popped up on the high street. Shops such as Home Bargains and B&M bargains sell branded products for a fraction of the normal cost. One of the main reasons why is because the products on offer are sold on a clearance or closedown basis. Meaning that the price you pay is cheaper than the RRP. The only downside is that the products can only be bought for a limited period until they are sold out. You won’t see any of the offers advertised but popping in will definitely save you a pound or two.