How to cut your grocery bills

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Make a list

Supermarkets put a huge amount of effort into trying to extract the maximum amount of money out of every shopper. One of the simplest ways to avoid falling for impulse buys and seemingly attractive offers is to make a list before you go. When you get to the store, try to stick to the list and you have the best chance of keeping your spending under control.

Don't shop on an empty stomach

It has been proven that shopping while hungry makes you much more susceptible to food-related impulse buys. So make sure you have a good meal before you reach the supermarket and you'll find it easier to stick to necessary purchases.

Beware "special offers"

Supermarkets often push special offers to make customers feel like they are getting a bargain and potentially persuading people to stock up in quantities they wouldn't normally buy. Sometimes there are genuine bargains to be had, but ensure that you're not buying more than you need. This is especially important for perishable goods - you may be better off buying a single 1kg bag of potatoes that you'll actually use, rather than 2.5kg on a BOGOF (buy one get one free) deal, most of which will end up in the bin. For non-perishable goods such as toilet rolls, multibuy offers can be sensible but ensure that you have enough storage and try not to keep more than a few months worth of supplies in stock at any one time.

Check the price per gram/millilitre etc

Supermarkets often do the hard work for you nowadays and put the price per unit on the shelf edge labels. This can help you figure out the best deal. Perversely, larger packages are not always cheaper per unit than smaller ones - due to the complicated pricing strategies employed by supermarkets, a smaller package can sometimes be significantly cheaper!

Vouchers and cashback

You can make a significant saving on your everyday shop by spending a few minutes scouring the Internet for coupons once a week. Sites such as HotUKDeals are a god place to start. Another good source of coupons is free in-store magazines which often come out once a month and have a number of good money-off coupons inside. 

Recently a number of cashback services have arrived on the market. With these, you can claim cashback on certain products by uploading your receipt after your shop. Some of the main players are CheckoutSmart (and its sister service Quidco Clicksnap), Shopitize, Mysupermarket and TopCashBack.

Shop around

Different supermarket chains have different special offers, so you can often make savings by shopping at two or more stores. Of course, you should factor in the cost of fuel and whether you have the time to do this.

A good compromise is to switch to one of the discounters such as Aldi and Lidl for your everyday items, and then go to one of the big supermarkets for the odd items you can't pick up at the discount chains.
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