Updated: Jan 13
If there’s one everyday pursuit that hasn’t been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s grocery shopping. In fact, you could even say it has thrived ever since people started panic buying toilet roll!
But the way people are shopping is changing. Working from home, socialising at home and a potential recession has made people think differently about what to buy and where. Savvy spending has become top-of-mind again as shoppers look to cut costs and think long-term about their budgets.
So, to help ensure you get more bang for your buck, here are 9 ways to be a savvy spender at your local supermarket.
1. Write a shopping list and stick to it.
Yes, this can be easier said than done but those impulse items can be a killer so try to avoid them if you can. There’s a reason that Aldi and Lidl fill the middle aisles with cordless saws, espresso machines and kids Frozen fancy dress-sets. They know you may not have one already. But don’t be fooled by the amazing prices. Think about whether you definitely need one. The same goes for all that extra chocolate at the till.
2. Do some pre-shop research
It’s worth carving out a few minutes to check out the offers sections before you do your shop. Tesco, Supervalu, Dunnes, Lidl and Aldi all show their weekly specials online. This is a good way of identifying the best deals before you get to the store. Supervalu and Lidl also have coupons in their apps. These are worth checking checking out too.
3. Bigger is better (value that is).
Generally speaking you should buy in bulk wherever possible. However, be mindful of pesky marketing tricks! Not all offers are as good as they seem. Often brands pack products together to make them look more appealing than they are. In this example the three smaller tins are advertised as ‘value packs’, however their cost per kg was 40% higher than the single tins. Try to look out for the smaller print cost per 100g/kg on price labels too – this is a great way to see which option is the best value.
4. Own-brand always cleans up
From our research, own-brand cleaning products typically cost about half of what branded versions that are on promotion cost. And it follows that the gap is even greater when comparing own-brand to branded ones not on promotion. So why spend more?
5. Play chicken with your Sunday roast
Another area you could save on is your Sunday roast. We examined what a typical meat costs. On a per kilo average, it turns out that chicken costs only a quarter of what beef does. So, changing your Sunday roast to chicken could save you around €855 a year! And changing from beef to ham fillet could save you nearly €600! Both scenarios assume a weekly 2kg roast over a year.
6. Use your loyalty points on partner brands, not in store.
This might sound slightly counter-intuitive but using your supermarket points in store gives you less value than on their partner brands. For example, 500 Tesco Clubcard points or 500 SuperValu Real Rewards will get you a €5 money-off voucher for your supermarket shop. But it can get you €10 off your electricity bill – e.g. Bord Gais with Tesco, and Electric Ireland with SuperValu.
7. Timing is everything
Fresh food has a limited shelf-life, many supermarkets offer discounts on food when you shop in the evening time. Many stores have a discounts/bargains section.
8. Spot the ‘Spend and Save’ offers
Dunnes Stores ValueClub and SuperValu Real Rewards regularly issue short-term ‘Spend and Save’ offers. A recent Dunnes example offers you a €10 voucher on your second shop if you spend over €50 on each shop. Dunnes advertise these in store and on their website. SuperValu’s app also offers regular Spend and Save offers (e.g. spend €40, get €8 off). But remember that they must be redeemed within a specific timeframe.
9. Digitally store your loyalty cards
Our smartphones are well on their way to replacing our wallets anyway. And there are some handy apps which allow you to store all your loyalty cards on them like StoCard. Take a look at this video of how to use. If you’re using Google or Apple Pay you can now digitally link your supermarket loyalty card too.
Having your loyalty cards on your phone means that you will always have your card on hand and collect points every time you shop.
We hope you found these tips helpful. From doing our own analysis we learned a lot ourselves. Everyday is a school day when it comes to being a savvy spender. But hopefully now, you’ll have all the tools and information you need to feel like you’re top of the class when buying groceries.
Click here if you want to see the latest supermarket deals.