How to save on YOUR grocery bills during the crisis

As the pressure on our finances continues to grow to unprecedented levels, we’ve all tightened our budgets, but have we done everything we can to save money at the checkout?

In recent months, we’ve gotten smarter about comparing prices of different products, checking the price per pound, and considering alternatives to our usual purchases, but there are options we haven’t thought of yet that could help us save even more.

buy in bulk

During the height of the pandemic, buying in bulk meant toilet paper rolls, pasta, and rice, and while many people went overboard causing shortages, we were able to save money by buying certain products in larger quantities.

What we buy really depends on the configuration of our house, but as a general rule, the best things to buy are the things that we use most often and in large quantities.

Helen Kirkpatrick, a mother of three in Dalston, keeps her shopping costs down by buying in bulk. “We have a ton of pasta, rice, canned tomatoes and cheese so always buy them in catering size packages as I know we will use them. I also buy meat this way and freeze it in smaller portions ready to use.”

For a large family, shopping this way can save time as frequent trips to the supermarket can be reduced, which is a definite plus with today’s high fuel costs. It’s also much more environmentally friendly as packaging waste is significantly reduced and we also reduce the opportunity to impulse buy things we don’t really need.

Buying in bulk will almost always offer a cheaper price per unit of product, but there are also some pitfalls to be aware of. In addition to items that work well for buying in bulk, there are also products to avoid buying too many.

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Buying fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked meats, fish, and dairy products in bulk can be a costly mistake. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), British households produced 6.7 million tonnes of food waste in 2021, which is equivalent to £10.2 billion. The most wasted fresh foods were potatoes, bread, milk, bananas and salad.

Reading the information on the date of the products is also key, since it is possible that we are throwing away food in perfect condition without realizing it. Use-by and Best before mean very different things. Use-by means use before the date and after that discard to avoid damage to health, while Best before is a recommendation and requires a bit of common sense on the part of the consumer. It is typically found in items such as cans, frozen dinners, crackers, and cereals.

In addition to waste, we also need to think about where all the products bought in bulk will be stored. Is there cabinet and freezer space available to store food items, and where will the 200 rolls of toilet paper live so they are accessible but not in the way of our daily lives?

Buying in bulk also has a financial impact on your weekly budget, as buying in bulk requires a substantial one-time outlay, so it’s not for everyone.

News & Stars: Kim Bradshaw, Owner of Zero Pantry - Photo Credit Claire Benson Kim Bradshaw, Owner of Zero Pantry – Photo Credit Claire Benson

Zero Waste Stores

It’s not always a place you’d automatically think of going to save money, but as these stores become more prevalent on the high street, they’re an incredibly affordable option to consider not only for our bank balance but for the environment. ambient.

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The idea is simple. Take your own jars, plastic cans, bottles and bags and fill them with the amount of products needed. This can be a small or large quantity and the charge is simply for the weight of the item, less the weight of the container.

Kim Bradshaw opened The Zero Pantry in Kirkby Lonsdale in August 2020 and sells a wide range of zero-waste products. As well as the food products she would expect to find, she also stocks herbs and spices, cleaning products, toiletries, reusable sanitary products and a range of specifically designed eco-friendly products, such as washing eggs.

Although customers buy some products in bulk, he is finding that people tend to buy only what they need on a weekly basis to save money. “Customers are living week to week right now and buying a wide variety of products within their budget,” explains Kim. “We all have to think carefully about how we spend our money, and the advantage of a zero-waste store is that you can buy very small amounts of supplies (like spices) to make versatile and tasty foods.”

News and Star: Shopping without Packaging Waste - Photo Credit Claire Benson Zero Packaging Waste Shopping – Photo Credit Claire Benson

“The biggest problem that I and other zero waste stores have is the preconception that we are expensive, but that is no longer the case,” explained Kim. “Yes, some organic products may cost a bit more, but everyday items are competitively priced comparable to supermarkets. By using refillable containers, customers not only save money, but also significantly reduce the amount of waste in landfills.”

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DEFRA data showed that in 2021 Cumbrian households generated 127,000 tonnes of household waste, as well as a further 117,000 tonnes of recyclable waste, so it’s clear that reducing our use of packaging by considering different ways of shopping will be beneficial for the environment and for our pockets. .