Susanne Norris suggests seven clever ways to pay less for your weekly shop


Amazing tips


Before you head to the shops, check what you have lurking at the back of cupboards and in the freezer. ‘I always do a rigorous stock-take before making my shopping list, noting down all the things I already have,’ says Jack Monroe, blogger, presenter and author of Good Food For Bad Days.

‘I sort them by carbs, proteins, fruit and veg, including tinned, dried and frozen, and miscellany. This is a good way of literally taking stock of what you already have and can use to shape meals for the week, which usually reduces what I need to buy and helps me meal plan. The first time you do this, it might seem laborious, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.’


Regularly find yourself heading to the supermarke­t for bread and milk, but coming home with a bulging shopping bag and £30 lighter? Impulse buying is actively encouraged by supermarke­ts, which tap into our emotional need for abundance to make us spend more. ‘Retailers use discounts, multibuys and loyalty cards to trigger psychologi­cal reactions, such as the fear of missing out or the need for immediate gratificat­ion,’ says Zana Busby, consumer psychologi­st and director at Retail Reflection­s Consultanc­y. ‘As most human behaviour is guided by our emotions and subconscio­us mind, the impulse buy is at the core of overspendi­ng.’

Her advice? ‘To counteract overspendi­ng, first identify the emotional and psychologi­cal triggers that make you prone to it: whether you’re bored, in a low mood, have seen a sale, or just want immediate gratificat­ion,’ says Busby. ‘Never leave the house without a shopping list, and commit to sticking to it.’


Needless to say, meal planning is a great way to save money on your grocery shop. As well as writing it all down on a weekly planner (we like the ones from Paperchase that stick to your fridge), use a portion calculator to help cut down on food waste, too. WRAP’S Love Food, Hate Waste Portion Planner (lovefoodha­ works out how much of each ingredient you need, taking into account how many people you’re cooking for, including children. ‘Cooking, preparing, or serving too much is the reason behind 25% of wasted food in UK homes, amounting to 1.2m tonnes going in the bin every year,’ says Helen White, special advisor for Household Food Waste at WRAP. White also advises serving meals for your family in one big dish and letting people help themselves, as anything left in the dish is more likely to be used up later compared with food left on your plate.


Whether you have a gluten or dairy intoleranc­e – or are one of the 600,000 vegans in the UK – don’t overpay for ‘special’ products. Research has found that often items that don’t contain certain ingredient­s, such as dairy or gluten, are more expensive when they’re sold in the ‘free from’ aisles in supermarke­ts. The solution? Do your research and look in other aisles. If you’re vegan, PETA ( and The Vegan Society (vegansocie­ have online resources that show you which items in supermarke­ts are vegan. For gluten intoleranc­es, go to Coeliac UK ( for advice.


We all know we should be batch cooking to save time and money, but let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t have the energy! While it may seem obvious to freeze leftovers for future dinners, you can also buy cheap food and freeze it for later use. Frozen bananas, for example, are a staple for registered nutritioni­st Dr Hazel Wallace, author and founder of The Food Medic. ‘These make the creamiest smoothies, and blended on their own, make a one-ingredient ice cream. It also means those spotty bananas lying on your countertop don’t need to go to waste.’ Any herbs looking past their best can also be frozen. ‘Freeze your fresh herbs and simply crumble them into dishes whenever you need to,’ suggests Wallace. ‘Go a step further and chop up some mint and freeze with some water in an ice-cube tray to add to cold drinks and cocktails.’


Lots of us have discovered our green fingers during lockdown, so why not keep up the habit? Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a great way to save money. Kathy Slack, who runs organic food blog Gluts & Gluttony, has some suggestion­s for beginners. ‘Bags of salad can be pricey and are a prime candidate for food waste,’ she says. ‘Lettuce grows really well in pots on a windowsill or in the back garden. Simply scatter seeds – Little Gem or Marvel of Four Seasons are very reliable and super-tasty – roughly 5cm apart in a pot of compost, then cover lightly with soil and water. They will germinate in a couple of weeks.’ She also suggests rescuing herbs from supermarke­ts and planting them in a windowsill container full of multi-purpose compost. ‘They can last for months and are much cheaper than buying bags or pots of herbs every week.’


Research has found that 75% of parents pestered by children to buy food at checkouts give in. Sometimes, you have no other option than to take your children shopping with you but to combat ‘pester power’, Zana Busby recommends never taking children shopping before a meal, and using distractio­ns. ‘Pack their favourite toy, take a healthy snack, engage them in storytelli­ng, or ask them to help you with the shopping,’ she says. Older children can get more involved with the planning process before shopping, too. ‘Teach your children about the value of money, make the shopping list together, teach them the difference between healthy and unhealthy food and pre-negotiate each shopping trip,’ suggests Busby. ‘Consider that part of your job as a parent is to teach your kids self-control and delayed gratificat­ion – and model it.’

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