Supermarket shopping tips

The experts at Quids In! magazine share their secrets.

1. Don’t be railroaded The main aim of supermarkets is to get you to spend more than you meant to. So you must learn to be a detective and unearth the real bargains. Whatever they offer you, whenever they shout the loudest SPECIAL OFFER at you, that’s when you need to be at your most suspicious. A good example is potatoes. In the fresh veg section there’ll be a large number of differently packaged, differently priced spuds. One bag will be a ‘special offer’ – usually new potatoes, or special potatoes at a special price. If you look at the weight, and work out the price per kilo, you’ll usually find some almost identical potatoes cheaper, but just in slightly different packaging.

2. Loose is best Not 100% true, but packaging costs, and the supermarkets will make you pay for it. So it’s usually cheaper to fill a bag with veg (and it means you can buy just what you need), and check out the prices for cheese or meat at the deli counter.

3. Try switching down Okay, we’ve all got our favourite brand of tea or coffee or biscuits or whatever, but you’ll never know how good the own-brand and value brand alternatives are unless you give them a try… Remember that the bigger brands have to charge you more to recover all that money they spend advertising themselves to make them a bigger brand in the first place! So the extra money you spend on them isn’t always because they’re made with better-quality ingredients.

4. Stock up on special offers (carefully) The idea here is, when you see something you would buy anyway and it’s reduced, you should buy as many as you can and stock pile them. It’s a good idea, but here’s where it can go wrong…

  •  You need to have both the spare cash and the room to store your goods
  •  You need to be really sure it is a bargain
  •  You need an iron will to resist temptation – if it’s something like beer, or chocolate, chips, or ketchup even, you may well find yourself using more if you’ve got a big stock.

5. Make shopping lists and stick to them It’s too easy to leave the supermarket with things you don’t need just because they look like such good value. The easiest way to combat this is to make a list and stick with it. An extreme variation of this tip is to swap your shopping list with a friend and go shopping with someone else’s list. That completely removes the temptation to overspend.

6. Take cash and a calculator with you If you only take out the money you can afford to spend, and take a calculator to keep a running track of what you’ve got in your trolley, you can’t overspend. Paying by card is very convenient, but it can easily mean going over your budget.

7. And over to you… Got any tips to share with us? Get in touch and tell us all about them!