Seven ways to save money at the supermarket

Esther Shaw / 10 March 2015 ( 10 July 2019 )

Supermarkets use all sorts of tactics to encourage us to spend more than we really need to, and it’s easy to part with a lot more cash than planned purely on impulse purchases.

The good news is, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to keep down the cost of your weekly shop.

1. Plan meals

The number one rule is to plan in advance; this involves working out your menus for the week and making a list of all the ingredients you require.

While this requires a bit of organisation, it should help reduce food waste too, as you will only be buying the items you need.

Also bear in mind that cooking from scratch is far cheaper than buying ‘ready meals’ – plus you can always freeze the leftovers to eat another day.


2. Check the price per unit

Once you’re in store, it’s important to compare costs. But rather than look at the total price, make sure you look at the price per 100 grams – or per 100 ml.

If you’re doing a big shop, it's a good idea to carry a calculator around with you so you can keep track of how much you're spending overall.

Save money on eating out with our tips for getting a good deal at restaurants.

3. Look for good in-store promotions

Keep an eye out for buy-one-get-one-free deals and other offers, and take advantage of these to stock up on basics, such as toilet paper, toothpaste and washing powder, or on items you'd normally buy.

Remember that bulk buying may make sense for some items, but could turn out to be a false economy if you’re buying perishables – or items you don’t really need.

4. Trade down a brand or swap your supermarket

An easy way to save money on your weekly shop is by ‘downshifting’ to the supermarket’s own brand or value range. With many goods – and especially toiletries and cleaning products – you may barely notice any difference. 

If you haven't tried budget options such as Lidl or Aldi, give them a go. They can be significantly cheaper on some, but not all, items. 

5. Make use of loyalty schemes

Sign up to loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar, and make sure you have your card at hand so you can collect your points or rewards.

By saving these up, you can get money off your grocery spend a little further down the line – or treat the family to a great day out.

As well as loyalty schemes, also make use of vouchers and coupons from newspapers, magazines and discount websites.

Read our guide to loyalty cards.

6. Use a basket

If you’re only buying a few items, pick up a basket rather than a trolley. That way, you won’t get tempted to buy more.

Also never shop when hungry or you could end up at the checkout with a pile of things you don’t really need – and none of your essentials.

7. Switch to shopping online

Consider doing your weekly shop online, as that way you can’t get seduced by in-store promotions and clever marketing, which keeps your impulse buys to a minimum.

Most stores will allow you to save a ‘favourites’ basket meaning you don’t even have to look at non-essential items.

Shopping online will not only save you money, but also time as well, as you can arrange to get your groceries delivered to your door at a time that's convenient for you. If you do change to online shopping, research delivery costs for you chosen supermarket – some offer much cheaper delivery charges if you buy a monthly or annual delivery pass for specific timeslots, or free delivery if you spend over a certain amount.

Find out where to get discounts for the over-50s.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.