Supermarket food: Stefan Gates compares fruit and veg cost
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Food shopping for a large family can be expensive and budgeting is one great way of making money stretch further each month. This can be done through eating own-brand food rather than branded as well as shopping for yellow sticker labels. Experts at thinkmoney have offered advice on how to food shop on a budget.
Yellow sticker labels are often found on food nearing its best before date, meaning the price is heavily reduced.
However, this food is often suitable for freezing or still perfect to consume the following day.
The hunt for yellow sticker labels has become increasingly popular in recent years but it can be hard to know what time the supermarkets reduce food items.
Budgeting experts at thinkmoney said: “You should try to keep in mind that something is only a great bargain if you’re going to use it, so avoid picking stuff up just because you think it’ll lead to a cheaper shop.
“Try heading to the supermarket at the optimal times for reduced items.”
According to the experts the big supermarkets including Asda and Sainsbury’s typically reduce their items at around 7pm while Marks and Spencer and Co-op is around 8pm.
Tesco also typically reduces items in the evening like Asda and Sainsbury’s.
This is because these times tend to be when there is leftover stock from the day and the store is trying to sell it before it ends up going to waste.
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The experts added: “A lot of the other supermarkets don’t have set times, so try to figure out when they start reducing items by doing your shop in the evening.”
For those who aren’t fussy, shopping in the reduced section may help families to shop on a tight budget.
Items can be picked up for pennies in the dedicated yellow sticker label section.
The experts went on: “Larger supermarkets will often have plenty of reductions on items set to expire, and so you can pick up a few things to last you the week at a fraction of the cost.
“This advice goes slightly against our previous point of planning your shops. If you have a specific meal plan in mind, it could be worth seeing whether anything on your list is in the reduced section.
“If not, you can always make minor changes on the fly as long as it doesn’t affect the price of your shop too much.
“One thing to check when purchasing reduced items is whether they can be frozen. Plenty of meats and fish can go in the freezer to use at a later date, but most fruit and veg can’t, meaning you’ll have to use it on the day.
“Furthermore, although a lot of ready meals can be frozen, there are a few that can’t be kept in the freezer, so check the packaging before you buy.”
As well as looking out for yellow sticker labels, another way to save a huge amount of money is to pick up own-branded foods.
According to the budgeting experts, the price for branded goods is often a lot higher but often “the quality isn’t that different from the other products offered”.
They added: “For example, a box of Coco Pops is £2.89 from Asda, whereas the own-brand version (which is also slightly larger) is just £1.40 – less than half the price.
“The change in price clearly hasn’t affected the quality, with the cereal rated at nearly five stars with many shoppers commenting that they taste just the same as the branded version.
“However, it’s understandable that you might still have your favourites. To test the water, try swapping out a few own-brand products in your shops and see which ones you can live without.
“Reducing your meat consumption can be beneficial for your wallet as well as your health and the environment. By switching out meat just one day a week, you could halve the price of one of your meals.
“For example, using Tesco recipes and prices, the ingredients for this beef stir fry work out at around £12.50, whereas the ingredients for this vegetable katsu stir fry cost roughly £7. Additionally, the ingredients for this green lentil curry come in at under £6.50, and the ingredients for this chicken curry are just shy of £10.
“This isn’t to say that meat-free is always the cheapest food, as some meat substitutes can be quite expensive and difficult to find. However, one thing you can be certain of is that going veggie can help you save money at the supermarket if you’re smart with what you choose to cook.”
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