Slash your food costs with these 8 super-smart tips

Iona Bain

Relentless pressure on the pound is pushing up shopping bills for families, with inflation climbing to 1.8 per cent. Food prices are being hiked for the first time since 2014 and a host of household staples, from Marmite to Nescafe, are becoming more expensive.

Even the cost of tea is set to rise, with the owners of Tetley and Yorkshire now forced to pay more for imported leaves.

These higher bills, combined with ‘shrinkflation’ of beloved chocolate bars such as Toblerone and Freddo, where a manufacturer reduces the size of a bar while charging the same price, mean families need to be smarter than ever with their weekly shop.

1. Go to bargain chains

Budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl and high street stores Poundland, B&M and Savers can help keep bills down.

Market researcher Nielsen recently calculated the cost of a shopping basket of 20 everyday items – essentials such as tea, soft drinks and bread. At Sainsbury’s the cost was £55.85. But if bought at a budget store, they cost £31.28.

Supermarket sweep: Budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl and high street stores Poundland, B&M and Savers can help keep bills down

They offer around 2,000 lines – much less than the big supermarkets, which sell around 30,000 (including more expensive products that may tempt you).

2. Go local

Local stores and off-licences are traditionally more expensive than supermarkets but they can sometimes be cheaper for certain items.

People who mystery-shopped for crowd-sourcing firm BeMyEye identified avocados and Coca-Cola as being cheaper at a local store. Also, the cost of three essentials – milk, eggs and bread – was typically lowest in an off-licence.

So always compare prices to see if you can get a better deal locally.

If you are lucky enough to live near a food market, make the most of it, particularly if you have lots of mouths to feed. Large bowls of fruit and vegetables costing £1 are brilliant value compared to what is on offer in the supermarkets.

3. Take the sticker challenge  

See how many items you can buy from the yellow sticker shelf in the supermarket selling goods that are either damaged, about to go off or simply cannot be shifted. One shopper, Tom Church, managed to buy all his household items last year from the yellow sticker shelf. He says it saved him £3,400.

Among his best buys were a £2.99 bottle of champagne and a 29p lobster. He shares any bargains he spots on his website Latest Deals and invites others to reveal any great deals they have found.

Nifties, a shop that sells only reject goods from supermarkets, has gone online after its shelves were cleared within hours of opening last July. Its heavily discounted goods are available with next day delivery for £6.

4. Become a prepper 

Prepping – or building up a stockpile of non-perishable goods – is not just a lifesaver in the event of Doomsday. It will also cut your everyday food bills, particularly if you stock up on tinned goods. Clear a shelf – or even a cupboard – and bulk-buy discounted items as and when you see them. Prepping is also a good hedge against food inflation.

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