I moved out of my parents for university in 2008 and whilst there I was a damn awful food shopper. A large supermarket was on my doorstep for the majority of uni life so I popped in all the time - never doing a proper weekly shop and in turn spending a fortune on very little. Then over a year ago I moved in with my boyfriend and took to being domesticated like a fish to water - sounds silly but I really do enjoy it. When we first moved in I don't think my food shopping skills were all that good if I'm honest however over the last 12 months or so I really do feel like I've come into my own and each week feel like I've gotten more for less money. I thought it wouldn't hurt to share a few of the tricks I've learnt that keep the bill down and also allow me to feed a boy with a stupidly high metabolism a lot of protein rich foods on a budget.
In Store Shopping
If you're shopping in store - write a list. It may sound simple but the weeks I forget this and wonder about aimlessly always cost me more. If you know your local supermarket write the list in order of how you travel around the store - it makes it a lot easier and means you stick to it without going off course.
Check out the 'world foods isle' foods like coconut oil, coconut milk and all the spices are often 25% of the price of the same item in the oils & spices isle. Not only are you saving a lot of money but the flavourings in the curry powders and chilli spices are so much richer.
Don't always grab the offers - often you can get 500g of XX for £1 in the middle of the store but if you take a look down the nominated isle you can get 500g of XX for much less! Ignore the centre of the store and walk down each aisle as you would normally. Sometimes the offers are better but all the offers in the middle are in the nominated isles too so you can make a far more informed decision when you're looking at all of the mushrooms not just the £1 ones on the end.
Sign up to the store loyalty card - don't let these cards determine where you shop but sign up to them all. They mean coupons in the post and the chance to rack up points to take off your shopping later on in the year. They cost nothing and if you're going to shop there anyway - make the most of the point incentives it's surprising how quickly they add up.
The best thing about moving into a new house and starting the weekly food shop journey was signing up for all the online shopping - most supermarkets have very generous discounts when you sign up for you first at home delivery. Waitrose for example currently have £70 off your first four shops and most supermarkets have at least £10 off the first online order. Wait until something juicy comes along and sign up!
Mix it up - I tend to mix up where I shop online dependant on the offers and the kind of thing I'm going to buy that week. If I'm stocking up on cupboard items, sauces & tinned goods I'll head to Asda as I find they offer me the best value on staples like tinned tomatoes and toilet rolls. However if I'm looking to fill my freezer with meats I'll head to waitrose or sainsbury's as I find the quality is much better and I find the value (3 for £10) on par with the competitors.
Delivery saver options - if you're shop loyal and you know you're going to get deliveries from one store for the next few months sign up to deals like Tesco's delivery saver. For as little as £7.50 a month you can get all the deliveries you like on nominated days saving you a fortune in the long run. Waitrose have free delivery over £50 too which is a really reasonable as you're more than likely to spend this much on a weekly shop.
Don't be store loyal - it really doesn't hurt to shop around and I think being store loyal is the worst thing you can do. I have my favourite supermarkets (tesco in store & waitrose online) but I still pop into Asda to pick up tinned tomatoes every now and again I just know I wouldn't buy my fresh tomato's there as I don't find they last long enough to be worthwhile. Each area has better stores than others too I've been too some Tesco's that are horrible to shop in however my local one is lovely. I personally can't stand Aldi and I don't find it cheap enough to withstand the lack of service and range however some friends love it - find what you like and shop there.
All the supermarkets are cheap! The main thing I've learnt over the last year is that the ad campaigns mean nothing - all the supermarkets have good deals and a lot match each other now anyway. Just be savvy and remember the deals aren't always cheaper and don't buy into a 3 for 2 on soft cheese when you only want and will only use one soft cheese - you're effectively just paying double which you'll throw away 66% of!
Eat before you go - again I think it sounds obvious but the amount of times I skip breakfast and head in on a weekend morning is silly. I always end up leaving with cheese dippers and iced coffee - make sure you're not famished or your bill will be an easy £10 more than it would be if you are full and shopping sensibly.
I hope that's helped somewhat if anyone has any other tips I'd love to hear them I'm always on the look out for more tips and tricks to make supermarket shopping more savvy and bearable.