Top money-saving advice for grocery shopping, include staying away from convenience stores and trying out new product lines at the supermarket

Woman reading labelling on a carton

1. Do your research.

It might appear to be common sense, but the supermarket in which you conduct the majority of your food shopping can make a significant impact. Every month, we examine the costs of thousands of different grocery items to determine which shop offers the best deals. The prices of a shopping cart’s worth of goods at several of the nation’s largest supermarkets are compared here; these goods range from loaves of bread to tubes of toothpaste, and you just might be surprised by how much of a difference there is.

For instance, in January 2022, customers shopping for groceries would have shelled out a significant 37 percent more at Waitrose, the most expensive store, in comparison to Lidl, the most affordable option. Therefore, if you have the ability to transfer supermarkets, you should do so whenever possible; doing so is especially simple if you shop online, assuming that a sufficient number of supermarkets are willing to deliver to your location.

 

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2. Avoid convenience stores

If you can avoid stopping at convenience stores, you could end up saving hundreds of pounds annually. Which? analysed the prices of 48 different items at the two main convenience store chains in the United Kingdom, Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local, and compared those prices to the pricing of the same things at the supermarkets that they are equivalent to. Our analysis revealed that the prices at Sainsbury’s varied the most, and it was found that if you shopped at a Sainsbury’s Local rather than a regular Sainsbury’s supermarket, you may end up spending 9.5 percent more over the course of a year for the exact same items. Find out how the other grocery stores stacked up in our research of convenience stores, as well as which products had the highest markups overall.

3. Opt for a store’s own brand rather than a well-known one

We conduct regular taste tests on a wide variety of foods and beverages, ranging from cornflakes to hot chocolate, to compare the quality of well-known brands to that of alternatives sold under our own label. It may come as a surprise to some, but the big-name brands are frequently bested by less expensive supermarket alternatives. And there are occasions when our tasters are simply unable to differentiate between the two, which may be due to the fact that branded and own-label items are frequently manufactured by the same individuals in the same factories. Through perusing our guides to the finest foods and beverages, you will learn where you can cut costs without compromising on the quality of the experience.

4. When you have the opportunity, stock up.

You are surely aware that the prices of groceries might change from one week to the next. Have you taken into account the fact that they can change by up to 284 percent? Our statisticians analysed more than one million prices as part of the largest examination into pricing that has ever been conducted in order to find out how much and how frequently the prices of branded products in our supermarkets change. They revealed some shocking pricing secrets, such as the grocery store that almost always has lower prices than its competitors for branded groceries and the supermarket where the price of the same item can vary by almost four times on different days. These revelations are sure to shock and amaze consumers. Because prices tend to “yo-yo,” or fluctuate up and down, it is in your best interest to stock up when products that you purchase frequently go on sale so that you won’t have to buy them at full price. However, make sure to take expiration dates into consideration; this strategy may be more effective for food that can be stored for a longer period of time as opposed to food that must be used promptly.

5. Participate in a customer reward programme

The loyalty programme industry is a very lucrative one for grocers. In recent years, many of them have undergone transformations, and their primary function is no longer limited to the accumulation of points; rather, they now provide loyal customers with access to special discounts, rewards, charitable donations, and competitions. It might be difficult to determine the value of the benefits and how they stack up against one another. Because of this, we have taken the initiative to perform the laborious task of comparing various loyalty cards on your behalf. When you use a supermarket reward programme, our study shows that you might save anything from fifty pence (with Sainsbury’s Nectar) to five pounds (with Iceland) for every one hundred pounds that you spend. However, these cost reductions are in risk of being nullified if the retail establishment charges higher prices than its rivals do in the same category. Therefore, while it is always worthwhile to join up for programmes offered by stores that you already frequent, it is usually not a good idea to alter where you buy just for the purpose of earning points. Compare the different types of loyalty cards here.

6. Become aware of the psychological manipulations used by grocery stores

The goal of grocery stores is to make their customers feel as happy as possible, and one way to do this is by providing pleasant sensory experiences, such as the scent of freshly made bread, the twinkle of Christmas lights in the winter, or the fragrance of floral arrangements in the summer. Why? When someone is in a state of greater ease, they are more likely to part with their money. To strengthen their brand, all supermarkets make an effort to plant an unconscious mental image in the brains of their customers. It is more obvious around the holiday season, when companies make festive displays and utilise warm colours and happy jingles to entice us to spend more money than we normally would, but it occurs all throughout the year in more subtle ways. You should go into the store with a clear idea of how much time you want to spend there and what you would want to purchase; you should prepare a list in advance and be sure to stick to it. Do not allow yourself to be tempted by the Christmas soundtrack into purchasing chestnuts that you have no intention of consuming.

7. Determine how much money you will actually end up saving.

Have you ever had to go past a display of special offers before you were even allowed to enter the store? Anything that requires us to shift direction, as well as signs that move or flash, causes us to pay attention to what’s going on around us. The placement of a vertical sign in the middle of the aisle is widely regarded as one of the most successful marketing strategies utilised by supermarkets. The natural movement of our eyes is from left to right, so anything that disrupts that flow compels us to pause and give anything a closer look. It goes without saying that discounts and deals can be of great assistance; however, in order for this to be the case, the item in question must be one that you had already intended to purchase. When a sale catches your eye, take a moment to evaluate why you stopped to look at it and ask yourself whether or not the item in question is truly something you require and whether or not the price is reasonable. Or perhaps you are just a victim of our deceptive advertising. Instead of looking at the total price of the pack, consider the cost per unit or per 100 grammes of the product when determining whether or not the pricing is reasonable. This will make it much simpler to evaluate the product in relation to other available options.

Also, keep in mind that the so-called “value packs” aren’t necessarily the best method to save money. You might discover that purchasing one pack of 10 is more expensive overall than purchasing two packs of five of the same item.

8. You might want to try shifting down a range.

There are many various types of own-label products available at supermarkets, ranging from basic and affordable brands to premium products. When you move down a pricing tier, you can make significant savings, and most of the time, you won’t be able to tell much of a difference in the flavour. It is well worth your time to determine how much money you can save and which items you are willing to purchase from a lower price range.

9. Be familiar with the distinction between “use-by” dates and “best-before” dates

Food that has a use-by date must be consumed before the stroke of midnight on its expiration date, or else it poses a health risk. On the other hand, best-before dates are far more malleable and do not raise the same concerns regarding food safety. Food that is either close to or even past its “best-before” date can typically still be consumed safely and frequently comes at a significant discount. If you find something in the pantry that has passed its expiration date, give it a whiff; if it smells OK, you should be able to consume it even though the date has passed. Find out more about which online grocery store gives the freshest goods by reading this article.

10. Create a list, then adhere to it religiously.

Have you ever observed that the milk is located all the way in the back of the store, the bread is at the opposite end, and the dishwashing liquid is somewhere in the middle? Even if you’re just looking for a few things, supermarkets organise their shelves in this way on purpose so that you have to stroll past every single one of them. It’s simple to get into the swing of things at your neighbourhood grocery store, but it can be challenging to do so when you’re in a strange environment. Keep in mind that in the majority of stores, bread and dairy products are located in the back, fresh fruit and vegetables are found in the front, and beverages and frozen goods are located in the far end of the store. However, certain stores are known for shuffling their produce about, so it is important to keep your wits about you, make a list, and try to adhere to it as much as possible. If you can’t help but explore while you shop, you might find it simpler to stick to a list and avoid becoming distracted if you do your shopping online. The age-old piece of guidance to “never shop when you’re hungry” is, of course, more relevant than ever before.

11. Walk along each of the aisles and search both above and below.

Strangely, the same sort of goods can be purchased in numerous different aisles at a variety of different rates. This occurs with rice, sauces, and baking ingredients, among other things. Therefore, if you are looking for rice or chickpeas, for example, you should check out the international foods aisle since you might find that they are less expensive there than they are in other areas of the shop. In addition, if you are looking for sultanas or cashew nuts, you should look in the baking aisle in addition to the dried fruit and nuts section or the snacking shelf. There are plenty of other situations in which it is beneficial to have a more careful look around the shop. The products that supermarkets want you to purchase the most are frequently displayed at eye level, while others that generate less revenue are typically positioned higher or lower on the shelf. Be sure to look in all directions, including up and down, while you search the shelves.

12. Take advantage of the early evening sales.

It is in your best interest to do your grocery shopping in the early evening, when many stores offer large discounts on perishable foods because their sell-by dates are getting closer. You will, however, need to be adaptable in terms of what you purchase, and you will, of course, need to make sure that you use the products before they expire (or freeze them).