I’ve mentioned a few times in my monthly goals post that one of my missions in life is to get our weekly food bills down. The main motivation behind this is that it is basically our biggest weekly expenditure that has a cost that is (or should be) within our control i.e. it isn’t a fixed bill like the mortgage etc. There are a number of things that I have been trying over the last few months some of which have worked better then others. My goal is to buy and eat fresh, health, and cheap meals – which turns out to be a very difficult task! So here is a run down of the things I have been trying:
Shopping at Aldi / Lidl:
I have no ties whatsoever to any specific brands, so I gave shopping at both Aldi and Lidl a go as there are always TV campaigns running saying how like for like your weekly shop will turn out cheaper. Personally for me this didn’t prove to be the case. I tended to find that as we are predominantly “supermarket own brand” users anyway these two establishments couldn’t always compete on this level or sometimes didn’t always have an own brand option to choose. Although if a shopper were used to buying “leading UK brands” and swapped to “foreign brands” on offer then they probably would notice a difference. I also found that although I am always flexible as to what I buy each week I still couldn’t get everything I needed so had to go to the supermarket to get the other bits I did need, such as baby milk etc.
RESULT = Weekly bill went up
Spilt the shopping between Lidl and Morrisons:
As my first exercise turned out to be a fail, I then tried doing half the shopping at Lidl (as I thought our local Lidl was better then our local Aldi) and the other half at Morrisons, which is our usual go to Supermarket (my only other local option is Sainsbury’s which for a full or half shop I know to be more expensive then Morrisions for what we buy) doing this option obviously increased the amount of time and effort it took me to do the shop. The method I used was to write out my shopping list and write next to it the Morrisons prices for everything I needed (as I pay so much attention to my food bills I pretty much knew the cost of every item on my list – what a loser!) I then went to Lidl first and bought everything on my list that was cheaper then the Morrisons prices I had written down. I then went to Morrisons to complete my shop.
As I know I only bought items from Lidl that were cheaper then the Morrisons prices, I can say with certainty that my weekly shopping bill was cheaper then if I had shopped at Morrisons alone. HOWEVER, because I didn’t buy as much from Morrisons I missed out on getting my shop and save voucher – usually if you spend more then a certain amount for three weeks running you get a voucher to save £10 off your bill at the end of the month. I don’t think if I continued with the method for a whole month that my savings would of beaten the £10 I could have saved by shopping at Morrisons alone. So back to the drawing board…
RESULT = Weekly bill went down but monthly bill would go up
Stock up on cheap items when available:
As I am always on the look out for items that are cheaper then our usual purchases I started buying the things I know we would need and use from shops whenever I see them if they were cheaper then what I usually pay. There are too many shops involved for me to drive round to all of them on a weekly basis, so if I want to use these items as part of our standard shopping I would have to stock up and get a few weeks worth at a time. I could then do the remainder and bulk of my shopping at Morrisons.
In general the things that I now buy and stock up on when out and about in town are pasta sauce and stir fry sauce from Home Bargains. Biscuits and soup from B&M bargains, Crisps from anywhere – I will never pay more the £1 for a pack of 6 branded crisps. Squash and fish fingers from Sainsburys. I know these items are all cheaper then at Morrisons and as I only go in and buy them if I happen to go past the shops when I’m out and about and stock up on a few weeks worth at a time I don’t feel like a crazy lady who’s going round four or five shops just to do her weekly shopping.
RESULT = Weekly bill goes down slightly
Buy fruit and vegetables from the Market:
I’m sticking with the stocking up on cheaper products and still doing a weekly shop at Morrisons option. But to reduce the bills even further I tested to see if buying the fresh produce from my local market could be cheaper then buying from Morrisons. At my local weekly market there is only one fruit and vege stall, and the quality of the produce certainly looked better then Morrisons and I like the idea of it being local produce etc. However despite this the food was quite a bit more expensive, and as I bought quite a few items at one go, I didn’t realise until later that the vendor actually over charged me for a couple of things, I don’t know if this was intentional or not but I wont be giving this method another go for a while.
RESULT = Weekly bill goes up
In conclusion I can safely say that I am now shopping in a manor that I know works best for us and saves us the most money. I haven’t managed to reduce my bills by much – yet – but I haven’t change the types of food we eat in any way – so I’ve still got this to have a go at yet.