When it comes to supermarket shopping often the best way to do it is head over at reduction times, then plan your meals around whatever bargains you pick up. At least that is how I used to do it before having Gabe. Going shopping at 6.30pm (which is when most reductions are made around here) with a tired toddler is just not going to happen!
I also now would much rather stroll around the local market for fruit and veg, or pop into our local butchers for meat. However, with work and a young family that isn’t always possible and for many they don’t have that option near by – especially if no transport.
When shopping in the supermarket for chicken and pork I choose free range, for lamb and beef Welsh or British raised, we grow or raise as much as we can ourselves – fresh eggs from your own hens are incomparable (and milk we buy raw direct from the farm). I’d rather eat less meat and bulk out with vegetables and pulses than downscale on this one – you can still eat on a budget, it just takes a little more planning each month. If your budget doesn’t stretch to it, just stick with real foods, not processed, and both your health and wallet will thank you!
Supermarket Shopping Online
If I can’t get to Lidl during the week when I need a supermarket I tend to shop online. I actually find this saves money as I am not tempted by special offers I don’t need, I stick to a meal plan better, plus no demands for chocolate or other junk food to be put in the trolley (and that is just Gary, not Gabe..). Normally I stick to Tesco or Asda and their £1 delivery slots – which incidentally is far less than the fuel cost for me to drive to the shops.
All supermarkets have money off offers for first time online customers. Last week I took advantage of Waitrose offering £30 off a £100 shop. Now, Waitrose is far from what I’d consider a budget supermarket, but recent price and taste comparisons have shown their “Essentials” range to be on par price wise with Aldi! So, it is all about savvy shopping, and I thought I’d see just how well I could do.
Playing the Offers
A £100 shop is also more than double what I would normally spend for a week, but to take advantage of the £30 off I shopped our store cupboard items and things that could be frozen. I also arranged the shop to coincide with them having a week long offer of 25% off all Meat Counter items and buy 5 save 25% on fresh fruit and vegetables.
This meant I was able to pick up free range pork sausages for the same price as their Essential range ones! The freezer is now full of sausages, braising steak, liver, and other meat that I priced up on MySupermaket price comparison and checked was cheaper than the other supermarkets including Lidl and Aldi and our local butcher.
I also bought a fair amount of tinned goods including fish. They had a great offer on tinned salmon, and their Essential sardines and mackerel in olive oil are the nicest I’ve had, as cheap as other supermarkets, plus at 40p a tin they are perfect for making cheap fishcakes or sandwich fillings to keep on budget whilst being full of healthy Omega3s.
Quite often Waitrose have 3 for 2 on their bread flours too. Their spelt flour is the cheapest of the supermarkets so whenever I see the 3 for 2 is on I stock up on it as it is great for bread baking and pastry.
There were also some great offers on butter and cheese. I find butter freezes really well, so again stocked the chest freezer up. With cheese we all prefer it if it hasn’t been frozen, but I put an instruction asking for as long date life as possible on the messages to shopper – you can do this on all online shops and helps avoid disappointment. All of it has end of April date life on it so I’m happily stocked up now on dairy, meat, and fish until then!
I was also pleasantly surprised when my shop arrived that they gave us a couple of free bars of chocolate, and the salad I bought was free of charge as it only had 1 day on the date life. I’ve not had this with Tesco or Asda online, and must admit it is a great way to make sure short date life food is used up, plus keeping customers happy.
In the end it cost £67.42, they applied the £30 off voucher even though the basket value dropped below £100 due to them giving us some items for free. We have a fully stocked freezer and store cupboard again, and bar some fresh fruit and veg later in the month I won’t need to buy anything else this month food wise!
I reckon that means we will be at under £100 for the whole month – well in budget and some left over too. Keeping us on track with our Financial Fast. I think it goes to show it doesn’t matter so much which shop you shop at, but how you shop the offers and deals you actually need that matters when on a budget.