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Lifestyle

12 tips for a healthy and budget-savvy supermarket shop

Want to reduce your food bills and keep your diet healthy? Try these tips for starters...

1. Plan ahead

Draw up a healthy meal plan for the week and write a strict shopping list. If you’re lacking inspiration, try BBC Good Food, Good Housekeeping or Bosh. Benenden Hospital nutritionist Katie Peck says planning ahead is vital: “We spend more money when we buy food on a day-to-day basis than if we plan and shop once a week, with a small top-up if needed.”

 2. Mix it up

Make sure there’s plenty of variety to your meals to keep boredom (and takeaway temptation) at bay – and choose healthy ingredients where possible. Make sure you have these seven easy-to-find cupboard staples, which can help keep meals healthy.

 3. Check the cupboards

When planning your shopping, double check you haven’t already got any of the ingredients – and scan the fridge too in case anything is going out of date and needs to be eaten soon. Adjust your shopping list to accommodate what you find – it will save money.

 4. Be budget savvy

If you are lucky enough to have a choice of supermarkets nearby or do your shopping online – and have a little time – price comparison website MySupermarket can help you buy your shopping from the cheapest store. And always keep an eye open for offers on non-perishable goods such as chopped tomatoes or laundry liquid.

 5. Eat before going

It’s been proven that if you shop when hungry, you’ll not only buy more but also be more likely to make unhealthy food choices. So, have a bite before you leave the house to stave off any impulse buys and to stick to your plan.

 6. Try the market

It might not be as convenient as a trip to a big supermarket, your local market can be a source of healthy food at healthy (for your wallet) prices. As well as supporting a local business, you may also be surprised with the range of produce on offer. Many markets stock modern favourites like avocados, lychees and more. You may also find it easier to forgo single-use plastics at the market.

 7. Hunt for vouchers

If you regularly shop at one supermarket, remember to take your loyalty card and any vouchers you’ve received. Also, MoneySavingExpert.com is an excellent place to find the latest coupons and offers besides tips on bringing down the cost of your shopping.

 8. Take your own bags

Not only will it save the environment, but reusing shopping bags will benefit your purse too. Remember to wash any bags that have held raw meat to avoid food poisoning.

 9. Time your trip

Savvy shoppers know when the yellow price reduction stickers will appear. These indicate items that are either about to go out of date or have been bashed a bit too much to sell at full price. Some supermarkets start to reduce prices on perishable goods at midday and again at 3pm, but the best bargains are usually to be found in the evening. With reduced-priced food, seek freezable items, especially those that can replace shopping on your list, to bring your bill down. Stick to healthy goods, since it is often processed or dairy-heavy products that feature in the discount section.

 10. Look for cheaper alternatives

While you may trick yourself that a branded item is better or tastier than the supermarket’s budget version, in many cases there is little or no difference. The well-known brands and most expensive versions will be at eye level, so look nearby for cheaper versions and see if you can taste the difference.

 11. Don't be blind with dates

Goods with the longest shelf life will be under or behind those that are soon going out of date. Have a rummage and you’ll find food you can enjoy for longer. When you get home, bring items that are going out of date soon (especially those with a ‘use by’ sticker) to the front of the shelves in your fridge to prompt you to eat these before they become inedible.

 12. Keep tabs on your budget

Some people tot up their shop as they go and some supermarkets have gadgets to help you do this. If you find you’re always busting your food budget, try to take a month-long view by keeping receipts and being aware of top-up trips to the shops. Introduce a few cheaper meals by using leftovers wisely.