Throughout my most recent years the biggest changes have been adjusting budgets. My biggest singular expense: food.

I am a foodie, and love cooking, eating out, choosing, eating a mele of different products, fresh, fitness focussed and of maximum benefit to the body

For many out there, Organic Planet and all forms of Finest, Best, Organic, Foodboxes, Ready meals, £1 recipes provide part of the solution. But I tend to take a structural approach to saving cash before I put it in the mouth.

My top tips are:

  1. Change where you shop and be flexible – limit the aisles you shop in and only buy what the supermarket specialises in
  2. Never buy a branded product again – and if you do limit yourself to 5 brands
  3. Swap fresh for frozen, simplify what you buy and find the vegetarian alternative, know exactly where the cheapest ready meals are and tins, tins, tins – you’ll be surprised what you can buy!
  4. Walking past a food shop? Duck in and checkout the reduced food section – you can always freeze it
  5. Use a food waste app and stop throwing food that isn’t mouldy or smelly away
  6. Join all the loyalty schemes and check for vouchers, smart prices and offers every week, know how to take advantage of online food shops and cost splitting (Zilch, Laybuy)
  7. Ditch the takeout and get the equivalent in the supermarket (dine in for two, pizza offers, £5 food bundle)
  8. Treat yourself to a something!

No. 1: Change where you shop, and be flexible

The biggest impact on saving money: change where you shop. Change how often you shop and how flexible you are

Every so often I get a £5 coupon off Lidl if I can spend £40. And I fail to spend £40, everytime:

1. Limit what you can take back home

By sticking to a single basket, a backpack and a canvas bag I limit what I can take back home. No more: I want everything!

2. Visit fewer aisles

Honestly think to yourself; where do I spend all my money? do I need it? is visiting all the aisles increasing my risk of impulsive buys? will I really miss it?

The only aisles I now shop in;

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Yoghurt
  • Non Dairy Milk
  • Frozen
  • Tins, Sauces, Pulses
  • Grains, Pasta
  • Nuts

The aisles I sometimes find myself in:

  • Bakery
  • Biscuits
  • Cereals

When I’m honest with myself, the majority of the supermarket I no longer need. Expediting my shopping experience, reducing compulsive buys and saving cash.

3. Trade down supermarkets

I avoid both express and larger type stores and go somewhere smaller. Somewhere cheaper. And a brand down from where I used to be.

4. Fill the gaps

From experience I know that some supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl, Iceland won’t have all of the vegan, vegetarian, Ice cream that I like. So I know: fresh and tinned at Aldi and Lidl, frozen at Iceland; everything else Morrisons.

5. Ready Meals

I also know where to get my £1 and £1.50 Ready Meals from: I can’t always be bothered to cook but know exactly the shelf and aisle for the ready meals for those lazy days. Cooking in the microwave also saves energy.

No. 2: Never buy a brand again

It’s a waste of time. What used to be a little more, is now a hell of a lot more thanks to our friend inflation. Gone from my cupboard are Heinz, Hellmans, Alpro, Total, Robinsons, Jordan’s, Kellogs, Hovis, Princes, Napolini etc etc

Example: magnum multipack ice cream: £4.50, supermarket own brand: £1.20.

1. Visit the world food aisle

The most important part of my visit is world food. Most things are cheaper, bigger quantity, and just as good quality. If with colourful packaging. Hello Ting, Udon Noodles, Panko Breadcrumbis, Siracha Mayo, Sweet Chilli Sauce, Tahini and Polish gherkins.

2. Pick the supermarket with the biggest range of own brand

You won’t regret it. I base mine on the variety of own branded milk alternatives available – niche range indicates bigger range overall.

3. Limit the brands you will buy, to say five, maximum.

Mine are:

  • Oatly
  • Coffee brands
  • Remeo
  • Haribo
  • Bottle Green / Cawston Press

No. 3: Product Swap

One of the things I miss is fresh berries. Sadly splashing out on delicious strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and so on isn’t sustainable. So I get them from frozen; and specifically the frozen bags of wonky and rejected berries. I get 10x the quantity for the same price.

1. Frozen

If you can’t buy it fresh, buy it frozen. It will last longer, cut down on food waste, reduce the cost of running your freezer and satisfy your needs.

2. Pitta, Rolls, Wraps, Baps for bread

I don’t have a toaster and struggle to eat bread. So instead I buy the alternative, reducing food waste and always hunting for the reduced. I also pick what I actually like; in go the crumpets.

This isn’t suitable for everyone – but if you’re always throwing out the same foodstuffs – can you swap or trade for something else or not buy at all?

3. Tins

Tinned mushrooms, tinned onions, tinned curry, tinned macaroni cheese, tinned rhubarb – are actually things. Make use.

4. Vegetarian alternatives

Vegetarian sausages, nuggets, “chicken” filets, mince, kievs, pizzas – are all cheaper, healthier and contain, sometimes, more protein and less fat. Kinder to the planet too.

No. 4: Reduced and Food Waste

From roasting joints, to ready meals, to potatoes, yoghurts, desserts, fruit, bakery. Always make the most of the reduced section. Always buy something to freeze. You’ll thank yourself later!

Make sure you download apps like olio, too good to go and collect premium foodstuffs from local supermarkets, bakeries, cafes and restaurants that would otherwise have gone in the bin. You’re saving the planet, so well done you!

No. 5: Don’t throw it away

Unless it has gone off, has a bad odour, or is completely covered in mould. Don’t throw it away. And keep as much as possible in the right storage. Move things into the fridge as the approach their best before or use by date.

Always keep a mental tab on stuff you have to waste; then stop buying it.

No. 6: Coupons

Start with downloading all of the apps for all of the supermarkets and making sure that you sign-up for all the loyalty schemes, each week new coupons. I love to use:

  • Lidl
  • Coop
  • Nectar (Sainsburys Smart Prices)
  • Amazon
  • Uber, Gorillas, Getir
  • Morrisons

And when I’m really struggling I split the cost of a big shop with Laybuy (Amazon Fresh and combine with first shop or Morrisons, Coop vouchers) or Zilch if I’m doing Apple Pay. No discount but helps with that last shop of the month when I don’t quite have enough.

No. 7: Ditch the Takeout

We all need treats. But rather than a takeout try getting groceries or taking advantages of offers at Coop or Morrisons on Deliveroo.

You can even try the meal deals:

  • Tesco finest pizza plus Tesco Finest Garlic Bread £6.
  • Any combination of dine in for two at Tesco, M&S with some free booze.
  • Coop occasionally do two pizzas and a beer for £5.

Sometimes swapping up brands in the supermarket means you don’t have to spend a fortune on takeout.