If you want to save money on your food shop
Through making small changes to the way you shop, you can make big savings every week. It’s convenient to shop at your local or favourite supermarket, but you might be missing out on savings by doing so! Every week, supermarkets have discounted offers through their club cards and mobile apps, which you could plan your shopping around – don’t be shy to stock up on these deals!
And, while it isn’t always convenient to your schedule, shopping late in the evening can sometimes save you money as hot food, bakery items and products approaching their sell-by date are reduced.
- See what’s on sale or on offer by shopping around
- Meal plan and buy foods in quantities you’ll use so nothing goes to waste
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season (for example, oranges between January and March, asparagus between June and July and leeks between September and March).
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables
- Check out ‘wonky veg’ offerings in supermarkets like Morrisons which can often be found at a cheaper price
- Make a list and set a budget
Ways to spend less at the supermarket
- Avoid convenience stores.
- Choose own label over big brands. Try the “Downshift Challenge” and see if you notice a difference.
- Stock up and bulk-buy when you can.
- Join a loyalty scheme.
- Know the difference between use-by and best-before dates.
Use what you already have – Take stock of what you have in your fridge, freezer, and cupboards, then try to use what you’ve already got to put meals together.
Vouchers and school meals
Free school meals
You can apply for free school meals if you’re receiving certain benefits.
Healthy Start vouchers
This is a voucher scheme for people with a parental responsibility for young children (under the age of four) or who are at least ten weeks’ pregnant and receiving benefits, to help them buy basic food like milk or fruit.
You’ll be eligible for the scheme if you’re pregnant and under 18, even if you’re not receiving any benefits. You can receive vouchers worth £4.25 each week of your pregnancy (from week ten of your pregnancy), £8.50 each week for children from birth to the age of one and £4.25 each week for children between the ages of one and four.
If you’re in Scotland, you can apply for Best Start Foods instead.
Coupons, cashback, loyalty cards and apps
- Use coupons – have a look at the latest supermarket coupons on the MoneySavingExpert website
- Utilise Cashback schemes – have a look at the top cashback sites on the MoneySavingExpert website
- Download the ‘TooGoodToGo‘ app, which allows you to take advantage of items approaching their sell-by date at a discounted price
- ‘Biscuit‘ is a walking-based mobile rewards app that allows you to earn points (known as ‘biscuits’), which you can trade for vouchers to use at supermarkets, pet shops and restaurants
- ‘Olio‘ is a mobile app for sharing by giving away, getting, borrowing or lending things in your community for free, aiming to reduce household and food waste
- Nectar (Sainsburys)
- Tesco Clubcard – Did you know you can claim back two years’ worth of unused Clubcard vouchers? If you have an online Clubcard account, log in and look at your voucher history, and see which ones you’re still yet to redeem
- The Co-operative Dividend card – note you will be charged £1 to join this scheme
If you’re over 60
Every Tuesday, Iceland offers 10% off (with no minimum spend) to all over 60s who shop at Iceland and The Food Warehouse.
Cheap recipe ideas
There’s a whole host of options online to pick from if you want to cook a certain meal on a budget. Here’s a list of some useful websites we’ve used ourselves:
- BBC budget recipes – Thrifty recipes to help you keep cooking costs down
- Family £1 meal recipe plan – This budget-friendly meal plan covers a week’s worth of dinners for four adults, coming in at under £28 in total
- Good to Know – Budget recipes under £1 per head
- Skint Dad – He knows every penny counts and keeps his meals low in cost
- Savings4savvymums – Family meals that are under £1 per head
- Cooking on a Bootstrap – A blogger who keeps his recipes as cheap as possible
Buy in-season fruit and vegetables
When produce is in season, they grow in abundance, which usually means there is an overstock of these products resulting in lower prices.
- Oranges: January-March
- Cauliflower: January-April
- Rhubarb: January-June
- Asparagus: June-July
- Carrots: June-September
- Tomatoes: June-October
- Broccoli: August-October
- Apples: September-February
- Leeks: September-March
- Pears: September-January
- Sweetcorn: September
You could also grow your own fruit/vegetables as a cost-effective hobby.
Find your nearest foodbank
If you’re still struggling to afford the food you need, you can contact your local Citizen’s Advice service, a charity, a school or a children’s centre.
Your local council can help you with this. On being referred, you’ll receive a voucher and information on where your nearest foodbank is located. You can also be referred by a Jobcentre Plus, a social worker, your local authority, police and probation workers or a medical professional.
- Check the Trussell Trust’s website to find your nearest food bank
- Independent food network – use their online map to find your nearest independent food bank
- If you live in a rural area and can’t get to a food bank easily, your nearest food bank might be able to deliver – contact them to double-check.
Check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to
Benefits calculator – Check your benefits entitlement using our calculator
Hardship payments – Hardship payments are available to people whose benefits have been stopped and who need money for essentials – as well as people who are vulnerable or those who look after people at risk. Find out more here.
Benefit advances – Check whether you could get an advance on your first benefit payment
Hardship/crisis/discretionary grants – Your local council will decide whether to award you a grant based on the priority level of your application and the amount of money left in the council’s budget. If you get a crisis grant, you don’t need to pay it back.
See what’s available in your local community
Soup kitchen/Salvation Army
Local churches/food pantries
Please note BudgetSmart has been created to provide you with information but it’s important to always do your own research too. Whilst BudgetSmart contains links to third party websites we think you might find useful, PayPlan is not responsible for any external content or any actions you take when accessing these links/websites