More SUPER-Market Shopping Tips


1. Check the £ price per/kg

Prices in supermarkets are designed to confuse you into spending more than you need to. It’s often difficult to compare products and ascertain which is better value. You need to read the fine print, on most price labels there is a little price per unit which allows you to compare directly.


2. Look at ‘Use By’ dates to avoid waste

Before handing over your precious cash make sure the products you are buying aren’t going to go off before you have a chance to consume them. ‘Best Before’ is a recommendation to consume the product before that date. ‘Use By’ means you should not consume after the date as this poses a health risk. When buying meat it pays to reach for a packet at the back of the shelf as you may get fresher meat that’ll last a couple of extra days. See point 10 about meal planning and bear ‘Use By’ dates in mind when planning. It generally makes sense to eat fresh meat in the few days after shopping. If meat is about to go off put it in your freezer before the ‘Use By’ expires.


3. Check deals are actually worth it

Who doesn’t love a deal? Unfortunately, sometimes ‘deals’ aren’t the bargain they make themselves out to be. Double-check that ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ offer is actually saving you money and not just making you buy more than you need. Back in 2019 a Which? investigation revealed 65 cases across the seven big supermarkets where discounts were misleading and didn’t represent any savings when compared to the non-promoted products.


4. Reduced section

Most supermarkets have a ‘reduced section’ where they have reduced the price of products that are going to expire soon. Again, make sure it actually represents a good saving but a lot of the time it’s possible to make big savings. Just make sure you consume or freeze it before it goes off. It might be a good idea to go to the reduced section first before picking up anything else, so you can adapt your meal plan around any great deals you find there.


5. Take a basket instead of a trolley for small shop

You just need some milk, bread and butter to see you through until your next shop, but you end up buying a sandwich, ice cream and 4 muffins, none of which you really needed. Don’t pick up a trolley (or even a basket if you can carry all the items) when just doing a top-up shop, this will make it harder to pick up things you didn’t come to the shop for. Also, if you are walking home it will stop you buying more than you can comfortably carry.


6. Know where higher prices mean better quality and where it doesn’t

Juice ‘from concentrate’ and juice ‘not from concentrate’ have the exact same nutritional content and cannot be distinguished in blind taste tests, yet we assume ‘not from concentrate’ is better quality merely due to its higher price and branding.


7. Use loyalty cards

Tesco’s Clubcard gives you discounts on certain products in store. They give you one point for every £1 you spend. A point is worth 1p, therefore it essentially saves you 1% on your spend at Tesco, may not sound like much but if you spend £500 over the year that’s a free £5.

Sainsbury’s Nectar card also gives you 1 point for every £1 spent but the points are worth 0.5p so it's like getting a 0.5% discount. Both nectar and Clubcard points can be collected on fuel which can really add up.

Iceland operates slightly differently in that you have to load up your card with cash to spend in Iceland. For every £20 you put on the card you get £1 back. This is a very generous 5% cashback. If you are planning to fill up your freezer make sure to make the most of this Iceland bonus scheme.

Co-op run a membership that’ll give you 2% cashback. But remember co-op stores are often more expensive to start with due to being convenience driven.


8. Know where to look

The supermarket layout is no accident, it has been carefully designed to maximise profit. Good value items generally aren’t very profitable and so it can pay to look in non-obvious places to find value. Often the top and bottom shelves are where the bargains can be found. Be wary of convenient placements, for example, below the curry sauces will often be branded naan breads, however, if you go to the bread section instead you will often find cheaper naan available there. The same is true of flatbreads near fajitas sauces, kits, and seasonings. Also, don’t be afraid to venture into the world food section where things like spices, soy sauce and grains can be better value.


9. Meat is expensive

Meat is often the single largest food expense. Why not try using vegetarian mince in your next spag bol or chilli con carne to save some cash? For example, at Tesco, you can get meat-free mince for £2 (454g) as opposed to beef mince for £3.30 (500g). Or instead of beef burgers that’ll set you back around £3 for 4, why not try a mushroom burger instead? Large, meaty mushrooms will cost just £1 for 4 and you’ll be helping save the planet at the same time.


10. Have a meal plan

Sit down and write exactly what you will eat at each meal for 3-6 days. Work out what you need to buy and put this on your shopping list, don’t be tempted to go off plan. You can even cost up your shopping list at this stage if you are concerned it’s too much. If it is over budget you can go back and swap out an expensive meal for something cheaper.