Since I resigned from my full time job last August (and decided to hire myself instead), money has been….well, on the tight side let’s say.
I’m always considered myself a savvy individual; being raised by a northerner made sure of that, but when money gets really tight, you have to examine all areas of your life don’t you?
So I did. The majority of the weekly shopping trips (buying in bulk to reduce costs) were done at budget supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi. And I was pleasantly surprised; they really do offer some great deals on quality products.
However, there were disadvantages, the most evident being (a) a lack of choice and (b) the temptation of purchasing non-perishable products. You know what I’m talking about – “the Middle Of Lidl” and all that jazz. Basically, cheap goods that you’re tempted to buy because it’s well….cheap.
This basically defeated the object in us trying to cut back. We managed to reduce our weekly expenditure on food, but undid all the good work by buying crap we didn’t need.
Get supermarket savvy
So the learning lesson has been to compromise. We now buy what we need from the budget supermarkets and do a couple of top-up shops at places like Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
But don’t knock the main supermarket giants – there are tricks of the trade to know when it comes to getting a bargain even while shopping here.
First of all, make a note of the closing hours of your nearest supermarket. Very often, the time you turn up to shop plays a large part in whether or not you’ll get some bargains.
For example, I know that if I shop on Sunday from 3pm I’m always 100% guaranteed to come away with a few bargains. We’re talking sandwiches for lunches the following day, meals for the evening and things like dips – with long ‘best before’ dates on them. I always wondered about these and my theory is that they discount to get rid of them due to shelf space – or rather, a lack of it.
The other thing you should know about your local supermarket is where the clearance shelves are. They are usually located in the same place – but it’s always worth a look to see what bargains you can pick up.
Yesterday I popped into Tesco and managed to bag a ‘Mother’s Day’ present bag for just 13p (was £2) and I also picked up a couple of two-metre birthday wrapping paper for 63p each (was £2.50). Yes, I don’t NEED these things right now, but I know that I will NEED them at some point.
And last week some toiletries were on sale in Sainsbury’s. I knew that a couple of friends’ birthdays were on the horizon, so I nabbed them while they were at a bargain price.
And that’s my third tip for supermarket shopping: buy what you NEED, not what you WANT. This is easier said than done of course, but if you are watching the pennies, you just need to ask yourself if you need it and will use it. If it’s just something for you “to look at”, then you can probably do without it – and your purse will thank you for it in the long run.
Another thrifty tip when you’re shopping is not to dismiss trying new brands – especially if they are on offer. Be open to trying new products – you never know, you might find something that you really like.
And that goes for supermarkets’ own brands. Very often the product inside is exactly the same – it’s just the packaging that’s different. If in doubt – just check the label for the ingredients.
Finally, if you do have room at home (or great storage options), then consider buying in bulk as it can really help save money. This is usually the case with non-perishable products. For example, you can always decant liquid soap into nice dispensers if you buy a huge bottle, which will usually work out cheaper (per ml) than if you were to buy small from the same brand.
So as you can see, shopping on a budget at some of the usually more expensive supermarket chains is very possible. You just need to know where to look, when to look – and to do your research.
And if you need an extra helping hand, websites such as My Supermarket (co.uk) allow you to compare prices and get the best bang for your buck – good luck!