We've all been there. Surrounded by supermarket signs letting us in on a little secret - shhhhhh don't tell anyone but if you buy eight sausage rolls, you will get two free - or buy this packet of custard creams and you will get 9450% free! Each new sign sounds better than the last and oh my goodness what's that? Why it's a reduced section full of questionable coloured meat and yellowing broccoli...
The best thing to do is not panic. If you start to panic you could find yourself scrambling through your handbag in the middle of the toilet roll aisle, desperately trying to find the calculator on your mobile phone in an attempt to find out which really is the cheapest deal - the BOGOF pink luxury toilet tissue that you've always secretly wanted to buy, or the one that looks like it might come with a free puppy.
Read on to find out my top tips to help you save at the supermarket...
Write a list
"Of course you should write a list, that's the first thing you do!" I hear you cry. Well I'm not talking about any list, no, I'm talking about a vision of beauty, a list that would have an Antiques Roadshow expert weeping at its very presence. The list is the final result of research, planning and a little love.
- Firstly, work out what meals you want to cook for the week in question; main meals, lunches, breakfasts and dinners.
- Determine the main ingredients you need and check you don't already have them in your cupboard.
- Write down the ingredients you need in order of where they appear in the supermarket. Fruit and vegetables are often first, then tins, bread, then freezer foods and alcohol.
This is a great way to make sure you're not picking up items you don't really need. You'll end up saving a bundle with some forward planning, and then you'll know for the future if you cook particular meals again.
Look out for deals
I realise that in the previous tip I've told you to avoid deals, but sometimes they really will help you. The best thing to do is to look out for great deals on long-lasting dry goods that you're going to need whatever time of year. It's great to stock up on items such as teabags, tinned goods or toilet rolls because you're always going to need them.
Check the reduced section
The best thing to do is make a beeline for the reduced section as soon as you set foot in the supermarket. Some clever shoppers even know the exact time of day the supermarket workers wheel out the ageing iced buns, so make sure you hurry. Things to remember about the reduced section:
- Meat is great to freeze for later use so buy as much as you can as long as you can envisage yourself using it in the future.
- See if there are any ready meals that you might want to take into work for a cheap lunch.
- If there are vegetables or herbs around, consider chopping them up, stuffing them into bags and sticking them in the freezer.
- Never forget that you can freeze sausage rolls!
Check what your supermarket is offering if you remain loyal to them. This could be in the form of a loyalty card, vouchers or otherwise.
I'd love to hear what other tips people have to save at the supermarket. I'm always on the hunt for ways to save on food...