With the average weekly food shop coming in at £61.90 per household, we look at how to cut this everyday cost.

Life can be expensive! Particularly when it comes to everyday costs like your rent or mortgage, utility bills, phone bill, transport costs and of course the weekly food shop.

While some bills can’t be easily cut down, many households are able to reduce their food costs by making a few small and simple changes.

We’ve done the research so you don’t have to. Here are our top tips on reducing how much you spend on food each week.

1. Always make a list and set a budget

Supermarkets spend a lot of money on trying to get us to buy more – whether it’s through promotions or their store layouts. Don’t let them trick you into spending more than you want by ensuring you always take a clear list of essentials with you and set a budget. You’re less likely to be tempted to buy extras if you know what you need!

2. Compare weights

Sometimes something looks like it’s a really good deal, but when you compare the item’s weight with a similar option it can reveal that you’re actually getting less for your money than you thought. Packaging can be deceiving, so always check and compare weights to get the best price per kilo/litre!

3. Buy loose vegetables and fruits

It’s very tempting to just grab a pre-packed bag of potatoes or apples, but it can often work out cheaper to just select what you need and pay by weight.

Pre-packed products are there to make our lives a little bit easier, but it does usually come with a cost. The same goes for ready-to-eat and ripened fruit. It can be twice as expensive as under-ripe products so if you’re happy to wait you can easily cut costs here.

4. Try different brands

We often fall into the trap of buying the same brands because they’re familiar and we know what to expect. However, it’s worth trying different, cheaper brands too. Often the quality and the taste are very similar, and the cost-saving can be significant over a year. Trading Heinz beans for own-brand beans, for example, often saves you 50% on the cost per tin.

5. Cut down on how much meat you buy

Meat can be very expensive but swapping this for pulses and beans for a couple of meals a week can really reduce your weekly shopping cost. A bean chilli or lentil cottage pie can be just as delicious as the meaty version. BBC Good Food has loads of meal free meal recipes.

Meat alternatives like Quorn and tofu aren’t usually cheaper though so just bear this in mind.

6. Buy long-life food in bulk if you can

If you have the space at home, it can be useful to buy long-life items like tins and frozen food in bulk – or multipacks. The cost per tin or portion usually works out less.

Buying fresh food in bulk can however be a false economy, as things may go off and need throwing away before you’ve had a chance to eat them.

7. Take bags with you

It’s such a simple tip, but with supermarkets now charging for bags it can cost you several £s just to pack up your purchases! Fold up some bags for life or reusable shopping bags and keep them in your handbag or coat pockets so they’re always to hand when you need them. When you’ve unpacked your shopping at home make sure you put your bags back, so they’re ready for next time.

8. Know the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’

Every year we throw away millions of tonnes of food and drink, much of which was still safe to eat. Why? Because we don’t always know the difference between a ‘use by’ date and a ‘best before’ date.

  • ‘Use by’ is a safety-focused label. Food may smell or look fine, but you shouldn’t eat it after this date.
  • ‘Best before’ refers more to quality. The food may be absolutely fine to eat after this date, but it probably won’t be at its best.

When you’re cleaning out your cupboards and your fridge, double-check that you’re not throwing out foods that may be past their ‘best before’ but still look and smell OK to eat.

9. Sign up for discount codes

Many supermarkets have shopper schemes whereby they offer discounts if you spend over a certain amount of money. It’s worth signing up for these and checking if the promotions fit with your planned shop. Don’t overspend just to use the voucher though!

10. Know what ‘average’ cost looks like

According to the ONS, these were the average costs for popular food items in December 2020. It’s useful to know what things usually cost, so you can see if you’re paying over the odds.

Large loaf of white bread (800g)


1.5kg of self-raising flour


500g of dry pasta


200g of plain biscuits


1kg of lean beef mince


1kg of back bacon


1kg of boneless chicken


300g pack of frozen vegetarian burgers


250g of butter


1kg of cheese


4pt of milk


80 tea bags


1.25l diet cola drink


100g jar of instant coffee


750ml of fruit squash


Single packed of potato crisps


454g jar of jam


1kg of white granulated sugar


1kg of potatoes


1kg of carrots


1kg of onions


400g of canned tomatoes


400g of canned soup


400g tine of baked beans


1kg of frozen peas


1kg of dessert apples


1kg of bananas


400g of mayonnaise


Frozen ready meal for one


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Student Life

Date Posted

08 February 2021