Saving at the shops: simple swaps that could save you a packet

Sometimes, saving money is as simple as heading to a different aisle in the shops. Not convinced? Read on to find out how much you can save…

Supermarkets and brands are good at getting us to part with our hard-earned cash.

They’ll offer us less of something for a higher price by marketing it as a ‘diet’ food, or place cheap versions of the exact same products in different aisles that we’re less likely to notice.

But if you think outside of the box, you can stop paying a premium and start raking in those savings.

Here are 10 swaps you can make without scrimping on quality.

But first, why not read our guide to when own brand is identical to the pricier branded alternatives?

Cotton buds (image: Shutterstock)

Shop in the baby aisle

Supermarkets have a clever trick of putting cheaper versions of the same products in unexpected aisles.

In ASDA, for example, you can buy 200 cotton buds for 35p in the baby aisle (1.8p/10 buds), or 130 buds for 75p in the cosmetics aisle (5.8p/10 buds).

Petroleum jelly is £2.00 for a 100ml tub (£2/100ml) in Tesco’s cosmetics aisle while in the baby aisle it’s £1.50 for a 150ml tub (£1/100ml) – half the price.

Obviously, it can also work the other way around, so be sure to check the differences next time you’re shopping.

…Or the world foods aisle

Shopping in the world foods aisle of your local supermarket could save you a ton.

For example, Tesco own-brand coconut milk costs £1.45 for a 400ml can, while the same sized can from the world foods section costs just £1.

At ASDA, Rajah ground ginger from the world foods section costs 75p for 100g, while their own-brand version in the spices section is more than twice as expensive gram-for-gram (£1.61/100g)

Often, it’s a case of buying more of a product in order to save, but if it’s something you use regularly, it’s worth it.

Avoid pre-chopped fruit and veg – if you can

Pre-chopped and prepared fruit and veg can have extortionate markups, costing three times more than its loose counterparts in some instances.

For example, ASDA loose carrots cost 65p per kg, while a pre-chopped 300g bag is 45p – more than twice as expensive gram-for-gram.

A pineapple (assuming an average size of 900g) works out at £1.11 per kilo while pre-chopped stuff is £3.75 per kg – more than three times as much!

Of course, for those with arthritis and other conditions, pre-prepared fruit and veg is a necessity. But if you can spare five minutes extra chopping time, it can be well worth it for the savings.

Oreo thins (image: Shutterstock)

Swap thin biscuits for regular biscuits

If you’re trying to make your teatime treat a little lighter, opting for ‘thin’ versions of your favourite biscuits – such as Oreos and Digestives – might seem like a good way to go.

But it comes at a cost.

An ordinary pack of Oreos costs 70p per 100g, while Oreo Thins cost £1.13 for the same weight.

Meanwhile, ordinary McVities Chocolate Digestives cost 56p per 100g, and Thin Digestives are 88p per 100g.

Plus, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we’d probably end up eating more of the lighter ones anyway…

Swap bottled water for a reusable bottle

If you’re still buying plastic bottles of water, it’s an expensive habit.

For example, if you get through a 12-pack of own-brand mineral water each week (£1.69 at Asda), it’ll add up to more than £87 per year.

Conversely, investing in a good-quality self-filtering water bottle will set you back around £10-20 and can last years.

And that’s before you even think about how much plastic waste you can reduce!

Head to the market

OK, so it’s a different store rather than a different aisle, but it’s still worth including.

Not only is the fruit and veg at markets often locally-sourced, fresher and of a higher quality than what you’d find in supermarkets – it can also be cheaper.

A Dispatches study found that local markets and grocers were up to 35% cheaper than supermarkets.

Often, in-season veg, as well as £1 bowls with a mixture of produce, are where the biggest savings can be found.

Swap zip-seal sandwich bags for silicone food bags

If you usually put your sandwich into a zip-seal plastic bag for work, you could save money by switching to a reusable alternative.

Kitzini reusable food bags cost £12.95 for a pack of four on Amazon. When compared with a price of £1.70 for 30 small zip seal bags at ASDA, that sounds expensive.

But, if you were to use one sandwich bag every working day for a year, you’d need nine packs of the ASDA bags, costing £15.30. Already you’d have saved money by using reusable bags.

Plus, you’d stop over 250 plastic bags getting thrown away, making it better for your pocket and the planet.

White vinegar (image: Shutterstock)

Swap window cleaner for vinegar

Sparkling windows needn’t cost a fortune. Mix one-part distilled vinegar with one-part water, then use scrunched-up newspaper to reduce streaks.

Your savings? Let’s say before you were buying an own-brand supermarket cleaner such as ASDA’s 1001 Window & Glass Cleaner, which costs 59p per 500ml bottle (11.8p per 100ml).

If you switched to a formula made of half water, half distilled vinegar – with ASDA’s own brand version costing 29p for a 568ml bottle – you’d be paying just 2.6p per 100ml.

In other words, for every bottle of the cleaning solution you bought, you could save 46p by making your own.

Swap descaler for vinegar

Limescale-ridden taps, shower heads and kettles can often make us want to buy a top-of-the-range cleaner to sort them out.

But you may not need to. Simply fill your kettle with one cup of water and one cup of vinegar, then boil it, leave for a couple of minutes and pour out the solution. Boil once more with water (or twice as the smell can linger!), discard, and your kettle is ready to use.

By doing this, instead of using a sachet of branded de-scaler, you’ll save around 42p each time. The same formula can be used to clean shower heads, taps and coffee machines.

Cornflour (image: Shutterstock)

Swap stain remover for cornflour

Cornflour isn’t just good for thickening sauces – it’s also incredibly absorbent, and great for lifting grease off fabrics.

If you have a stained item, simply sprinkle it with cornflour and leave for a few minutes, before brushing away – it should lift the stain right off.

Per 100g, cornflour is 11p cheaper than the leading brand of stain remover, plus it means you don’t have to go out and buy a separate product for the job.

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