Question: How do you save money on your grocery bills?
Answer: Do basic price comparisons. Even if you can only use one shop, then look across all the shelves, packet sizes etc. It will take you longer, but your bank balance will be seriously better off.
I get frustrated when I speak to friends, who say they are struggling to make ends meet. Food costs so much! Then under discussion, they admit that they buy premium brands, they rarely check the ‘quick sale, still fresh’ counter, buy ‘ready meals’ because it is easy etc.
This post was driven by a shopping list item of Porridge Oats in a local Sainsbury’s (and I didn’t buy the 1kg bag of oats, because I realised it was cheaper in another local supermarket). However my eye was caught by boxes of 12 individual packets of Oats. The cost per unit worked out at a factor of 5.
Please note: this does not include gluten free options. Apologies to those who are Coeliac – maybe the subject of a future post… I have a few friends / family who are Coeliac, and they would really appreciate a price comparison, with a bit of ‘tried and tested’… So watch this space! email me or comment if you are interested.
Example 1 : Porridge / Oatmeal
The market for porridge (oatmeal) has recently expanded in the UK. Not only are there vast quantities of different sort of oats, there are lots of pre-packaged packets. Just add milk / water etc. I have used them myself when working, and I understand that for a traveller, who has no cleaning facilities, that it might suit them to have a ‘just add water’ container. It can be disposed of easily, but mostly if you have boiling water available, you also have a tap to rinse a container.
I didn’t have any excuse. To be honest, I hadn’t thought it through. I just thought – healthy breakfast! I took disposable bowls from home (yeah, I cringe now…). I kept the sachets in my desk drawer, bought some milk on the way to work, and left the rest of the milk for the coffee / tea drinkers through the day. I hadn’t worked out that with a bit of pre-planning, I could bring in measured portions in a container, add water, and save myself a fortune! How silly was I ?
Today in Sainsbury’s, I priced 1kg of Porridge Oats versus a pack of 12 pouches.
A portion of the pre-packed oats costs £0.20, an equivalent portion of the large package of oats costs £0.04. So the pre-packed comes in at 5 times the price. If you move to a carton where you just add boiling water, the cost jumps to a special offer price of £0.75 (Promotion saving of £0.25, hence it must normally be £1) To be fair the carton comes with skimmed milk powder, worth about £0.20. Still far more expensive.
As it happens, I now prefer my porridge made with water, rather than milk. I make it by adding 180ml of water to 30g oats, and microwaving for 2 minutes on High. (Dependent on the power of your microwave. Mine is 1000W) If I want a change, I throw in a handful of berries or sometimes raisins. No sugar. Cost for a month. About £1. (£0.03 a portion). My young lodger a year ago liked Golden Syrup on her porridge. I still have the syrup. One carton would do about a years worth of servings of porridge. Cost abut £1.
Example 2 – Pasta
I generally buy the ‘basic’ range of pasta. There is not always the same choice in the range. Spaghetti, twists, lasagne or penne pasta are the usual ones near me. I am sure my taste buds are faulty because I really can’t tell the difference.
Morrison’s Basic Spaghetti 20p for 500g, the most expensive was Barilla Wholewheat spaghetti at £1.43, Napolina Quick Cook was £1.41. Price differential – a factor of 7.
Needless to say I have not compared the price of Fresh Pasta, which is even more expensive.
Example 3 – Cheese
I confess, I rarely buy a ‘basics’ cheese, because I do notice a big difference in flavour/texture, but the difference in buying grated cheese versus a lump of cheese and spending a few minutes grating it yourself is amazing. I buy cheese when it is on offer. Take Morrisons Parmesan Reggiano £15 per kg, versus the same cheese, shaved £21.60 kg, grated £20 kg
Online Shopping Trial
For the purposes of the exercise, today I searched Morrisons Online for things I often buy. I didn’t go looking for bargains, or the ones with the biggest price differential.These are mainly products I make the choice on week after week.(not the fish fingers. They are on the lists of my friends who are grandparents!). It is only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other small savings that you can make
My ‘basics’ shopping bag (Morrisons Online)
Basics spaghetti £0.20
1kg Porridge Oats £0.75
1 packet ‘Savers’ butter £1.00
Morrisons Savers Eggs 18 pack eggs £1.43
Morrisons Savers Sliced Loaf 800g £0.45
Morrison’s Corn Flakes (500g) £1.11
Morrison’s savers tinned tomatoes 4 pack £1.24
Morrison’s plain flour £0.45
Morrison’s savers fish fingers 10 £0.65
Morrisons own brand Baked Beans £1.17
10 items Total £8.50
My ‘I dont check the prices’ shopping bag (Morrisons Online)
Napolina spaghetti £1.41
3 Packets of 12 porridge sachets £7.45
1 packet Castle Dairies welsh Salted butter £1.93
Morrisons Organic eggs 3 packs of 6 £5.80
Warburtons Original Farmhouse £1.45
Kellogs Cornflakes 450g £1.93
Napolina tinned tomatoes £2 (Special offer was £3.44)
Homepride Plain flour 1kg on special offer £1, 1.5kg = £1.50
Birds Eye Cod Fish Fingers 10 £2.50
Heinz Beanz multipack £2 (special offer was £2.58)
10 item Total £27.97
For a random set of 10 items, the difference was a factor of 3. Basics £8.50 versus the ‘I don’t check the prices’ £27.97. (and there was an additional £2 of automatic savings in the £27.97, otherwise it would have been £29.97.
Multiple that by 52 weeks, and you get a massive saving of £1014
Note, there was no meat, vegetables, milk or puddings in this calculation, so this is only a small demonstration what you can save by being just a little more careful in your shopping. You could easily save twice or three times that.
I would rather save where I can do so easily, and spend a bit extra where I appreciate the difference
The information in this post is correct to the best of my knowledge. It should be used purely as an example of what you can achieve by making simple savings. I used Morrisons simply as an example, because it is where I do my regular weekly shopping. It is not an advertisement or a recommendation for Morrisons, and I have not been paid to do this post.
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Save Money on your grocery bills