Five simple ways to reduce your food bill as the cost of living skyrockets

How to cut down on your food bill. Credit: John Super/PA

By Dr Amna Khan, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Behaviour and Retailing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Just when we thought we had been through the worst of it, Brexit, a pandemic, supply chain issues, we are hit with inflation, the highest it has been in 30 years.

As consumers feel the squeeze on their take home income the pinch in the pocket feels much worse when prices are going up, rapidly, and show no signs of slowing down.

Households throughout the nation are going to be affected as inflation rise on necessities such as food, fuel and energy.

Dr Amna Khan, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Behaviour and Retailing at Manchester Metropolitan University, shares her tips and trick that can help reduce the food bill.

1. Collect information

Take stock of the food you have at home, go through your pantry, freezer, storage cupboards and make a detailed list of what you have and what you use.

Consumers often buy food that goes to the back of the cupboard and doesn’t get used, so establish which products they are so you are aware, and this will prevent you from putting them in the basket.

2. Create a list of items

Make a detailed list of meal plans for the whole week. List the foods that you need to cook the meals and the quantity you need.

Using the stock list and the meal plans information create a shopping list of items that you need for that week.

The shopping list allows you to understand and stick to your budget and avoid picking other items of the shelf impulsively, which will reduce the amount of unwanted spend and food wastage.

A list will stop you being lured into promotional offers, which try to get you to buy more, you don’t need it – it’s not on your list, and more than likely you won’t use it!

Credit: PA Media

3. Buy in bulk make in bulk

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. Buying more can get you discounts, and also save on time through batch cooking.

You can put the food in the freezer, which can be used when you are too busy to cook and avoids impulse purchases and being caught off guard.

Batch cooking also allows you to experiment and create a variety of different food choices for example, pre-cooked chicken can be used in wraps, sandwiches or noodles.

4. Refining your list

Now that you know what items of food you need, here are some quick substitutes that can help you quickly reduce the costs of your shop.

  • Substitute branded good for own brand labels - you shave the price significantly withouthaving to compromise on quality. And remember to LOOK DOWN! Eye level is buy level - products are purposely positioned at your eye level to tempt you to buy, they are usually the highest priced items for that product too. Look down and you will find that the price is often much cheaper. Always buy based on the cheapest price per unit, not based on the price the item is being sold at.

  • Substitute fresh produce for frozen (berries, vegetables, meat and fish) – fresh produce is priced higher than frozen produce. You can get frozen berries to throw into porridge or smoothy without any issues with taste or quality

  • Substitute the chopped, grated or part prepared food for the raw items - you pay the for the convenience of chopped potatoes versus chopping them yourself. Buy the potatoes and chop them yourself.

  • Buy loose fruit and vegetables – they are cheaper than pre-packed version.

  • Substitute and find alternative food – you might choose to substitute protein source chicken for tuna. Both healthy options, but a can of tuna is much cheaper.

5. Compare

Now for the fun part. There are lots of great grocery comparative websites and apps that do the hard work for you.

Get your list, put in the name of product that you want, and the app will tell you which supermarket sells them at the cheapest price.

If you can save more through splitting your shop with two supermarkets, do it! Always have a scan of the internet for coupons.

Even if it only saves you a few pence, the amount saved will add up. Some supermarkets even allow you to use multiple coupons at one go.

There are also many other apps online that food retailers use to reduce food wastage.

These apps allow consumers to collect a bag of food at the end of their trading day that they would otherwise be throwing away, for a fraction of the price.

Finally, don’t go to the supermarket hungry! You will find your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Consumers tend to buy more when they have a need to buy.