Cut the cost of your supermarket sweep!
The cost of feeding a typical family is 20% more expensive than it was in 2007. So how can you bring down the cost of your weekly shop?
Every time I go to pay at the supermarket checkout (whether it's actually the supermarket itself or online) I can't believe how much I've spent. I mean, how is it possible to spend so much money on... well, food?
It just seems ridiculous how quickly the little things you throw into your shopping trolley add up.
Even though Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation has fallen below the Government's target rate of 2% this month for the first time since 2007, the cost of feeding a typical family is still on average 20% more expensive than it was in 2007, according to mySupermarket.co.uk.
Increase in the cost of feeding a typical household 2007-2009
Source: Sample food and grocery baskets, mySupermarket.co.uk internal data
Young families and those with teenagers have clearly been hit the hardest. But even a 14% increase in food costs over the past two years will have a big effect on your bank balance.
The following chart shows how the price of basic foodstuffs has changed over the past two years:
As you can see, the price of meat, vegetables and eggs has increased the most overall in the past two years, while bread and cereal have seen the smallest increase.
So what can you do if you want to cut the cost of your food bills?
If you shop online one of the best things you can do is use the website mentioned above - mySupermarket.co.uk. That's because this clever website will track how much your shopping would cost at each of the UK's four major supermarkets (Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, and Ocado/Waitrose). You can then buy your entire trolley of goods from the one you choose.
Even if you don't shop online you can still lower the costs by simple measures such as binning the big brands in favour of supermarkets' own label products. Often these products taste just as good, but they will cost a lot less. You can see how certain products compare in both cost and taste by checking out this nifty website - supermarketownbrandguide.co.uk.
Another good idea is to make the most of offers and discounts when you can - if you shop at the end of the day, you're more likely to pick up a bargain on the 'reduced to clear' shelf. That said, be wary of 'buy one get one free' deals - these don't always provide the best value for money - particularly if they're on perishable items. It's far too easy to buy more than you need and end up throwing some out.
Check out our weekly frugal food round-up for current supermarket discounts.
Also, try not to buy food wrapped in lots of packaging as this will be more expensive.
Of course, if you haven't already, it's also worth giving deep discounters such as Aldi, Netto and Lidl a try. These stores have lower prices than many other supermarkets because they keep shop overheads low. They may not suit everyone's palate but even if you only shop there for a few select items, you can still make big savings.
Finally, don't get sucked in by supermarket scams! The smell of freshly baked bread can be a great way of tempting you to buy some, while the addition of coffee houses such as Starbucks at many larger stores are a good way of encouraging you to spend hours in the supermarket - and therefore spend more!