Fifteen savvy tips to cut supermarket spending
Millions of euro are wasted each year by consumers throwing up to a third of their groceries in the bin
Irish people throw more than €1 billion in the bin every year. It’s shocking but true. The cost of groceries for an Irish family of four typically runs to €200 a week.
Over the course of a year the typical Irish family will spend around €10,000 in supermarkets. A third of what they buy will most likely end up in the bin, according to figures from Stop Food Waste, part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Waste Prevention Programme. So here’s our cut-out-and-keep guide to smarter shopping that will save you money.
It’s all in the planning:Supermarkets spend millions of euro on marketing and are always exploring new ways to make us spend money we don’t have on products we don’t need. We make it easy for them by arriving starving in our supermarkets with no idea what we need or want.
To make it harder, the first thing you need to do is eat. Then make a weekly menu plan outlining what you want to eat each day at home and at work. Cover all the meals and snacks. Check what you have already and draw up a shopping list. Never deviate from that list.
Ready, steady cook:You need your larder to be free from clutter. So, once every two months, carry out an audit of your dried food and make an effort to use the tinned goods, packets, herbs and spices. Websites such as supercook.comallow you to enter your ingredients and it will draw up a list of recipes for you. A fig and celery tagine with a smoked paprika couscous will give you a certain buzz from feeding yourself for free.
Dodgy deals: Do not be tempted to buy stuff you don’t want or won’t use just because it is on special and avoid bulk-buying perishables – seven heads of lettuce for the price of three may look like great value but it won’t look so clever when the soggy lettuce is in your bin.
Shop late:Supermarkets discount thousands of euro worth of stock late in the day because it has reached its sell-by or use-by date. Buy food, bread or milk on the cheap and freeze it.
A colleague of Pricewatch is partial to Tesco Finest ready meals but less partial to their price. He buys only meals that are about to reach their use-by date, pays half price, sticks them in the freezer and has his lunch sorted for his working week at less than €3 a day.
Be more savvy: Never take perishable items such as milk, yoghurt or butter from the front of the shelf. Take the stock that is packed behind – it will have a longer shelf life.
Check at the check-out:Always make sure special offers have been applied and the right prices charged. Mistakes happen every day. Scanners and supermarket staff get it wrong and the mistakes mean many thousands of euro are wrongly taken from consumers each year. Make sure you are not one of them.
Explore:If you shop in the main supermarkets, change your shopping habits completely for two weeks by only shopping in Lidl or Aldi. They are cheaper and, while the stock is limited, that limits the amount of money you can spend. The brand names you grew up with are not to be found but you will save money.