In May last year, Labour leader Ed Miliband caused headlines in the national media when he claimed his family 'probably spend £70, £80 a week on groceries'. His comments were eagerly jumped on and not surprisingly. That amount is some way below what is the average weekly shopping bill for a family of four. That's upwards of £100.
To be fair to Miliband, he did qualify his comments by adding that he was referring to the basic essentials of a weekly shop and that in general the overall cost would be higher. He also admitted the rising costs of grocery shopping were representative of a 'crisis facing so many people.'
He was right about that. Feeding a family for a week is a considerable expense but with a little careful planning and willpower, savings can be made. Here are eight amazing tips to help you save money on your food shop.
In an effort to save money on grocery shopping, the freezer is your friend. Maybe even your best friend. Freezing food allows shoppers to take advantage of money-saving offers - half price joints of meat, for example - and store them for use weeks later. It also reduces waste as you won't witness food running out of date. If you don't have a freezer, get one. Some families have chest freezers in their garage to increase storage capacity - view some typical examples on ao.com
Buy in bulk
It's very often smarter to buy more of an item, even though you might pay a pound or two more. It can go further. Here's an example. While shopping in a leading supermarket recently, it was noticed that four chicken breasts cost £5 but a pack of six were on offer at £6. Buying the bigger pack meant the chicken could be divided in two: one used to make a curry, and the other a casserole. That's two family meals.
Use up leftovers
It's all too easy to throw away leftover food without a second thought but this is a real waste. Some of the most commonly wasted foods can be recycled into really good snacks, breakfasts and bigger meals - potatoes, apples, bananas, carrots and bread are great examples of this. Click here for an interview with Emma Marsh of Love Food Hate Waste.
Stick to the shopping list
It pays to be organised, so before the weekly shop make a list of what you need. Check the contents of your fridge and your cupboards, and only buy what you need instead of constantly topping up. Getting an extra pint of milk won't break the bank but it's easy to waste £10 on a handful of items which don't need replacing.
Don't shop hungry
Here's a little tip which really works. Don't do your food shopping when your stomach is rumbling and you're feeling hungry, or the temptation to include luxury items will be too great. It's too easy to throw a handful of goodies into the trolley just because they look too tasty to ignore.
Be strict with offers
It's easy to be seduced by special offers but some are often misleading. Multi-packs of crisps are a typical example - buying two for £3 sounds great but if each pack is usually priced at £1.65 you've only saved 30p. Not only that, you've been encouraged into spending £1.35 more than you originally intended and now might have a load of flavours you don't really like!
Shop online and switch around
Most supermarket retailers have online shopping facilities and many offer discounts for a first shop. Take advantage of these and mix them up throughout the month to get a chunk of cash off. Also, if you don't shop with a particular retailer for several weeks you might notice they offer a further discount to use them again.