How to Save Money on Groceries

One thing you’ll notice when you reach the UK is that groceries are a lot cheaper than Australia. Being right up next to Europe pays off, and there are lots of different places to shop – not just Woolies or Coles, with a few independents thrown in. In the UK, major grocery stores are Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Iceland, ASDA, Aldi, Co-op, Morrisons, Lidl and Budgens. Some are cheaper than others, with Waitrose and Budgens at the more expensive end. Most of these stores also have special loyalty cards and programmes as well. This can help save extra money!

Here’s 6 ways to make your money go further.

1. Go to the cheapest supermarket



Given the huge number of options in the UK, it can be hard to tell where is cheapest. Sites like mySupermarket are designed to help compare prices and can help you save 30% from your grocery bill. You can also read more about studies that have compared all the options here. This article compared Aldi, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. The order from cheapest to most expensive was as follows:

1. Aldi
2. Asda
3. Morrisons
4. Tesco
5. Sainsbury’s

There is some conflicting information out there though, particularly if you just stick to home brands. In the UK, home or own brand items don’t quite have the stigma they do in Australia – they’re usually much better quality, and there’s no issue with choosing the basic or simple range of items over the branded kind. Read more about own brand comparisons here.

You should also be visiting your local markets. They might be a little further away, but it’s well worth the effort. Avoiding major supermarket chains can save you up to 40% on your grocery bill.

2. Shop at the right time


Yes – showing up at the shop at the end of the day – particularly on a Friday, can make a huge difference.

Stores want to get rid of perishable items (like meat) at the end of the day. There’s usually a ‘reduced’ section in the bakery, one in the chilled section and sometimes one in the fruit and veg section. Marks and Spencer are particularly good at this, with their entire bakery section being reduced at the end of each day. You can come away with some great deals, getting quality bread, meat and other items at a seriously low price.

And if you really want to go out to eat, many places have cheap days. Often this is ‘cheap Tuesday’. Local pubs and clubs also usually have special days of the week for lunch and dinner deals.

3. Stop splurging


Pro tip – always eat before you go grocery shopping. If you have a full stomach, you’ll buy less and are also less likely to select fatty, sugary foods. You should also get into the habit of carrying a healthy snack (like nuts or dried fruit) wherever you go so that you don’t splurge on takeaway meals when you’re out.

If you have a big day – pack your lunch. Whilst UK supermarkets often have great meal deals (usually around £3 for a sandwich/roll, drink and a snack like chips or cut fruit), you can ultimately stretch your grocery bill and eat for as little as a few pounds a day in total.

And finally, never skip breakfast. Eating breakfast has been proven to control your cravings later in the day.

4. Eat the foods that give you the most energy


You don’t just want to look for food that will just make you feel full. You want food that gives you more energy, for longer.

When you shop, buy high energy, nutritious food like:

  • wholegrain bread and pasta
  • brown rice
  • beans
  • oats
  • quinoa
  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • yogurt
  • dark chocolate (if you’re after something sweet)

5. Order online

Order online

This might sound like a more expensive option, but it doesn’t have to be. Shopping online makes it really easy to:

  • Buy in bulk. Search for long lasting items (rice, canned goods, toilet paper, laundry liquid) according to price and then order A LOT in one go. This will save you heaps in the long run.
  • Find the best discounts. Find the pages for discounted goods and decide what to cook that week accordingly.
  • Plan very carefully. Because you don’t have to rush and have plenty of time to think, you can make a detailed plan of what you’re going to cook and stick to it. You also won’t be tempted by the snack isle when you shop online.

Lots of British grocery stores are now offering online shopping and delivery. These include:

All of these offer incentives to new users and will have discount offers throughout the year. For instance, Ocado has £20 off new orders over £80. If you want some additional advice on shopping online in the UK, check out this article from Money Saving Experts. Investigate how prices compare with your online shopping at PCAdvisor.

6. Share food


Yes – communal eating is cheaper – and more fun. Organise regular meals with your friends or if you have housemates, take turns cooking for everyone. This saves on the essentials like oil and spices (and electricity). You can cook in big batches and keep leftovers for later.