This post is the first in a series of posts dedicated to shopping on a tight budget. As students and fresh graduates, we are often short on funds, so making the most of what we have is essential. Read on for some tried and tested tips on how to do your food shopping without breaking the bank.
If you are a student or a graduate job seeker, you’d know that budgeting is essential in helping you get through tough times whilst concentrating on what really matters in the long run – getting good education or getting a job.
Once you leave home and move to a new city, it is almost a given that you wouldn’t be perfectly prepared for the independence and responsibility of living on your own. Having lived away from home for years now, been through the perils of student life, as well as the ups and downs of job seeking, I have got plenty of experience and advice on budgeting to share.
Food is a life essential. You can’t get away from this fact. But this isn’t an excuse for you to spend loads of money on it. If you follow the tips below, you can reduce your food bill significantly.
1. Find Cheap Shops
If your parents have done your shopping all your life, you might not be aware of this, but certain shops are much cheaper than others. For example, you wouldn’t do your food shopping in Waitrose or Marks & Spencer’s if you’re after budget shopping. Aldi, Tesco, Asda should be your primary choice when shopping on a budget. Morrisons and Sainsbury’s are good choices too.
Hot tip: for dry foods and snacks (which don’t expiry quickly) shop in bulk, or buy from Pound shops.
2. Local Markets for Fresh Produce
Fruit and vegetables are cheapest in local markets. Find your nearest market and do a weekly shop there. You can stock up on all the fruit and veg you need for the week for about £5-£10.
Hot tip: do not buy too much because fresh produce from a market goes off more quickly than what you buy in shops so buy only as much as you can consume/cook in a few days.
3. Offers and discounts
Every shop would do discounts and offers on certain products every now and again. Keep an eye out for those promotions and avoid splashing out unnecessarily. If a product you need isn’t on offer when you’re shopping, the large retailers would always have a cheaper alternative manufactured specifically for them. Asda Smart Price or Tesco Everyday Value is what I’m talking about. I find Tesco’s cheap range particularly good in terms of quality in relation to price.
Hot tip: half price offers are always better than buy-one-get-one-free, because even though it sounds like the same thing, you don’t want to end up having too much of the same product, especially in case it might expire.
4. Choose the right time to shop
Do not go food shopping when hungry. People underestimate this, but it has a massive impact. If you’re shopping when hungry, you’ll end up buying unnecessary things and spending a lot extra. Have a list and follow it.
Hot tip: go shopping on Sunday nights – shops are always clearing a lot of products then. Or, if you go shopping in a local store, keep an eye out in the evenings before closing time, as many items will be put on offer due to expiry dates approaching.
5. Shopping online
Shopping online is a good alternative for those trying to save some extra time and money. You would have to pay for the delivery, but unless you have a big supermarket on your doorstep, you’d always have some expenses associated with the transport of your shopping. You can take your time with it, check all the deals out, and buy the things you need at the price that best suits you. Oh, and keep in mind that most major supermarket chains have some good offers on your first online order.
Hot tip: when shopping online, sort your list by price so you can see the cheapest at the top. Saves time and money. Always double check the size of the cheapest items though, in order to avoid disappointments when the delivery comes.
I do hope that you’ll find the above tips useful when you do your shopping. If I’ve missed anything, or if you’d like to add to the tips, drop a comment below.