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How to get the most out of supermarket shopping


Organize your supermarket shop around what you need, what's on offer and where the best place is.

- If you're only doing a little shop, pick a small supermarket. You may pay a fraction more, but if you're only after a few bits you'll be less tempted to buy extras you don't really need. 

If you're buying in bulk, supersize.
If you've a tribe to feed, you're having a party or you're a pro at freezer meals, buy what you can in bulk from wholesale supermarkets (you may need membership or a business account for some, but it can be simple to obtain, especially if you're self-employed). 

Watch out for sell-by dates. Late in the day, produce that's about to go past its sell-by date (not the use-by date) gets marked down. Have a root through the bargain bin: you could save yourself a good few quid, but remember it's only a bargain if you can use it up straight away!

Always make a shopping list. Buy what you need to make the meals you've planned and to restock your cupboards, not just on a whim. Plan a few days ahead and pop back in for any extras rather than buying food you'll end up throwing out.

Shop around. You can save a lot at bargain basement supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl and Netto, even if you buy certain items elsewhere. It's a jungle out there, so the golden rule is try everything once. Decide where you'd rather spend your money on quality items and where you can find the same quality for less. 

Don't be fooled by swish packaging and ignore your own prejudices. The supermarket's own brand products can also be just as good as the pricey big brands and save you pounds, so road test them. Try out all the different supermarket brands as well: once you've got the packaging off, it may well be you can't tell the difference between the glossy premium brand and the smiley budget brand...and you don't need a degree in marketing to figure out which one the supermarket wants you to buy! 

Compare the price per kilo. The price per kg has to figure on the label, but it may often be hidden away, in small letters, or covered with stickers. It's the best measure for price comparison. 

Don't be a slave to supermarket gimmicks. There's a reason why the chocolate and magazines are placed by the till, the children's sweets are placed at their eye (and hand) level, and you have to spend hours cruising the aisles to find the few essentials you popped in for (you never find the bread, milk and eggs in the first aisle). Another trick: take a closer look and you'll see that the most expensive products are tactically placed on the middle shelf, at eye level. Look up and down for the lower prices. 

Special offers, reductions, BOGOF and other promotions can be a false ecomony. Especially if the supermarket puts the price up just before reducing it to con you into thinking you're saving more. If the BOGOF, 50% off or reduced item is on your shopping list, in the trolley it goes. If not, look at the price per kilo, check how much you're actually saving and only buy it if you're sure you'll actually use it. 

Shop on a full stomach. The smell of fresh bread from the bakery is wafted over to entice you as soon as you walk in the supermarket. If you're full, you're more likely to stick to what you need rather than piling your trolley high with expensive, processed cakes, biscuits and chocolate. 

Get a loyalty card. Don't tie yourself down to one supermarket just because you can earn points there, but by all means get loyalty cards for all the supermarkets you shop in and save up your points to use at Christmas or earn yourself gifts.


Sarah Horrocks
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