10 ways to feed the family for less

family eating a meal

family eating a mealFood bills may be soaring, but shop wisely and you’ll shave £££s off your weekly spend. Here are 10 practical tips to get you started.

1. Don’t waste food

According to Love Food Hate Waste, the average family bins £50 of food every month – that’s almost £700 per year that could be put to good use elsewhere.  Cut down on waste by making realistic portions, keeping an eye on use by dates and freezing or saving all your leftovers.

2. Buy in bulk

It’s not a bargain if you have to bin it, but non-perishables like pasta, cereals, canned goods and dried noodles are often much cheaper when you buy in volume.  Stock up so you’ll always have something on hand to base meals around, and snap up deals on nappies, cleaning products and toiletries whenever you see them.

3. Plan ahead

Thinking ahead will save time as well as cash, so plan your meals and keep a shopping list handy so you can add items when you run out.  Organise your list by the layout of your supermarket so you’re less tempted by impulse buys, and when you do buy something not on the list write it down – you’ll soon see where your money goes.

4. Shop around

Forget brand loyalty, when it comes to cheaper dinners shopping around is the way to go.  Check a cost comparison website to see at a glance where savings can be made, and scan the supermarket sites to see which offers are available.  Bear in mind money spent on delivery charges or travel, and if it’s easier to shop in one store, make use of your loyalty card.

5. Buy own brands

Own brands used to suffer from a poor reputation, but according to Datamonitor two thirds of people now think they are as good, if not better than leading brands.  Most supermarkets offer a full range of products, from ‘value’ to luxury food and drink – but they’re not always cheapest so look out for deals on named brands.

6. Supermarket savings

Shop a little later in the day for bargain-basement prices on perishable goods, and check out the deli counter for offcuts of cold meats or cheese sold at a discount.  But beware the BOGOF – two for one deals aren’t much of a bargain if you’re splashing out on items you wouldn’t have bought otherwise.

7. Grow your own

Growing your own veg is fun for kids, great therapy and a good way to discover new varieties at a fraction of the supermarket price – and you can cram a surprising amount into the tiniest garden or window box.

8. Read the price-tag

Supermarket bargains aren’t always what they seem, so always read the unit price to check you’re getting the best deal.  Two for £2 may sound like a great deal, but if individual items are only £1 where’s the saving?

9. Shop local

Supermarkets don’t always have the edge when it comes to value for money.   Check out your local butcher, grocer or street market for seasonal foods which cost less to produce and are more likely to be grown locally.

10. Check your receipts

It’s easy to kid yourself about how much you really spend on food and drink.  Try keeping every receipt one week – even for the odd bar of chocolate or pint of milk – and you’ll see exactly where the money goes.  If you do a big shop, always check the receipt before you leave the store as errors are more common than you’d think.