Money Saving Food Shopping Hacks for Parents

shopping bags with food inside them

It's no secret that feeding a family can sometimes feel like a never-ending job of meal planning, budgeting and stressing when they don’t eat anything. 

I find planning what we’re going to eat each week really challenging. Everyone seems to want to eat different things, and with a vegan husband, that adds another level of complexity and planning! 

And the cost. Everything is so expensive, and there’s no sign of things letting up. With the cost of living crisis, how can families save money each week on their food shop?

Let’s have a look at some budget-friendly strategies to help cut costs without compromising on quality or flavour.

Set a Weekly Meal Plan

Taking a little time to plan your meals for the week can work wonders. It does take time and effort, but it’s always worth it. By knowing exactly what you need, you'll reduce the likelihood of impulse purchases that can quickly add up. And it can minimise waste, too. For example, if I'm buying a block of tofu, I make sure we have scramble one day and stir fry the next.

Embrace Loyalty Cards

Most large supermarkets offer loyalty programs that reward you with discounts and points. 

Signing up for these can lead to some nice savings over time, so it’s worth signing up for them. I’ve also seen a lot of places only offer discounts if you scan your card at the checkout. Remember to take it with you! There have been many meal deals we've missed out on because I forgot the card!

Use Coupons

I remember cutting out coupons and money-off vouchers when I was a kid! It’s worth keeping an eye out for coupons in newspapers and usually online, or through dedicated coupon apps. Most of the leading supermarkets have apps whereby you can activate offers before you shop. 

Consider Bulk Purchases

It depends on if you have the space but if you do, certain staples like rice, pasta, and tinned goods can often be more cost-effective when bought in bulk. The same goes for household items such as loo roll, washing powder and dishwasher tablets.

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Choose Own-Brand

Give own-brand products a chance if you haven’t. These are often just as good as name-brand items and come with a friendlier price tag. We used to be very loyal to our favourite baked bean brand, but after looking at the price per tin, we decided to try the supermarket's own brand. And we actually prefer the cheaper option! 

Shop Seasonally 

Fruits and vegetables that are in season tend to be more affordable and taste better too. You can often pick up local produce at markets and car boot sales too.

Use Frozen Foods

Don't overlook the frozen aisle. Frozen fruits, vegetables, and even meat can be just as nutritious as fresh options, and they have a longer shelf life. I find things like corn on the cob, peppers and frozen onion so handy for quick side dishes or last-minute spag bols!

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Compare Unit Prices

When deciding between different package sizes, always check the unit price. Sometimes, the larger package is a better deal, but not always. I’ve found this is usually true for items like toilet rolls and nappies. 

Keep an Eye on Specials

Be on the lookout for sales and special deals on items you regularly use. Stocking up when there's a discount can help you save in the long run.

Avoid Shopping Hungry

Argh - I am so guilty of this! Shopping on an empty stomach can lead to impulse purchases of unhealthy (and often pricier) foods. Try to eat before heading out!

Minimise Pre-Packaged Items

Pre-packaged foods and convenience items tend to cost more. Whenever possible, opt for whole ingredients and cook from scratch – it's often healthier and more economical. And it’s usually more environmentally friendly! 

One example - pink lady apples. If we buy a pack of four at our local supermarket, they are wrapped in plastic and cost over £2. If we buy them loose, it costs £1.80 for six in a paper bag. No brainer! 

The rising cost of living doesn't have to be a constant source of stress when it comes to providing nourishing meals for your family. By implementing a few of these practical tips, you can make informed choices that help you save money while still enjoying the pleasures of good food. Let’s just hope the kids eat it, though, hey!

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