How to change your weekly shopping habits to save amid cost of living crisis

Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, shoppers are becoming increasingly wary of their spending. 

One of the areas people are looking to save money on most are their food shops, with food inflation at 19.1 per cent in April 2023, according to the ONS.

But what exactly are the best ways to save on a supermarket shop and how much could it save you? 

Read on below to reveal a money-saving experts top tips on how to cut costs on your shopping. 

A financial expert shares their tips on how to change your weekly shopping habits to save up to £200

Use supermarket own-brand products

MailOnline spoke to financial expert Philly Ponniah to bring you the best ways to save money when visiting the supermarket. 

Ms Ponniah’s first tip encouraged customers to ditch branded products, such as Heinz tomato ketchup for supermarket’s own-brand products, which tend to be less expensive. 

She said: ‘A lot of people are now favouring own brand products because they are generally cheaper’, adding that customers are now looking to save around £200 a month on food costs due to the cost of living crisis. 

Cash-strapped families could save money this winter by switching from leading brands to cheaper supermarket alternatives. Prices correct: November 2022

Cash-strapped families could save money this winter by switching from leading brands to cheaper supermarket alternatives. Prices correct: November 2022

In a recent blind taste-test, supermarket own-label baked beans beat their more expensive branded rivals – with two cheaper cans being voted the best.

Asda’s own-brand baked beans, costing 50p a tin, which is less than half the price of big competitors, achieved the top score of 77 per cent in the Which? test for flavour, appearance, texture and aroma.

Joint cheapest Aldi came second with a score of 75 per cent, while Branston’s 90p cans took third place with 74 per cent, losing points for the pulses being ‘too firm’.

Take advantage of meal planning

Philly’s next tip urged shoppers to prepare their meals ahead of time, planning what they would eat in advance to avoid any unnecessary trips to buy food. 

She also said that using a freezer is a cost-effective option as it allows people to cook in batches and save any leftovers, rather than shopping for food on a meal-by-meal basis. 

Taking advantage of meal planning and cooking in larger portions can also help you to avoid unnecessary expenditure on snack foods or confectionery. 

Shop at large supermarkets over convenience stores

The money-saving guru said that you should seek out larger supermarkets over smaller convenience stores. 

Whilst smaller supermarkets may be in better locations and more easily accessible, she warned that it is ’10-15% more expensive to shop at smaller convenience stores’ than buying all of your shopping from larger stores.  

Although Philly supported the idea of doing an online shop, as it removes the urge to make an impulse purchase like you might do in-store, she advised that: ‘A lot of people have stuck to online shopping for convenience but are spending more because they go into convenience stores to top up on their online shops’. 

Despite food inflation falling to 15.4 per cent in the year to May 2023, overall inflation in shops rose to 9 per cent in May, the BRC said, an all-time high.

Although the food inflation rate is declining, it is still an incredibly high figure, meaning that a person who spent around £20 in a food shop a year ago would now be paying a little over £23 for the same items.

This is an average so the exact number would depend on what they bought.

Although May’s figure is a little lower than the food inflation seen in April, it is still the second fastest annual increase the BRC has ever measured, it said.

Subscribe to loyalty schemes for extra discounts 

As UK supermarkets go head-to-head with loyalty schemes, which cost-cutting deals are best for customers?

As UK supermarkets go head-to-head with loyalty schemes, which cost-cutting deals are best for customers?

As people tighten their purse strings in an attempt to deal with soaring food costs, there has been an increase in those looking to make use of discount schemes offered by various supermarket chains. 

Ponniah said that these schemes do not just benefits customers, but supermarkets too, as the incentive of rewards and discounts ‘keep customers loyal to one specific brand’. 

Indeed, a number of big-name brands have launched fresh schemes to offer customers greater discounts. 

In April 2023, Sainsbury’s launched Nectar Prices, which works in similar fashion to rival Tesco’s Clubcard service, offering discounts on certain items to shoppers who sign up for the service. 

Newly-added products to Sainsbury’s Nectar price range include Cathedral City mature cheese (usually £4.75, Nectar price £2.75), Philadelphia cheese (usually £2.20, Nectar price £1), Yeo Valley organic semi skimmed milk (usually £2, Nectar price £1) and Lurpak 500g butter (usually £5, Nectar price £3.25). 

Don’t go shopping when sad or stressed 

Philly’s final tip warned customers about the danger of buying food when upset or stressed, saying it ‘could lead to avoidable impulse purchases’. 

If you find yourself spending more than you should, she said that shopping online can help ‘remove gratification’ associated with buying items you may not need for your meals.  

Ponniah also shared a helpful feature that can be found within many banking apps, which helps people budget effectively.

Online banking apps have fixed money pots, which allow you to allocate certain amounts to different outgoings such as food and drink, helping customers to allocate consistent sums of money for food shops.  

She also said that you should become accustomed to ‘working out what you really need but not cutting out all the joys of life’, as she says could save shoppers up to £200 every month if they follow her advice.