Student Money Week: 5 ways to make your money go further at your weekly shop
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By Anne Chawk, Senior Student Money Adviser at the University of Bedfordshire
Supermarkets recently hit the headlines as a lack of lettuces and a courgette crisis took hold. Poor weather in Spain has seen the price of veg soar and with economists warning that food costs are set to rise following Brexit, that weekly supermarket shop is likely to get a little bit more painful.
Anne Chawk, Senior Student Money Adviser at the University of Bedfordshire, shares five ways to make your money go further at the checkout in 2017.
1. Make friends with your freezer
Making food in big batches and then filling up your freezer is much more cost effective than cooking individual meals. Making six portions of your favourite dish and shoving a few in the freezer will allow you to benefit from bulk buying discounts and reduce food costs further down the line. A Sunday spent filling up your freezer with pre-prepared meals will pay dividends in the week, when your schedule is busy and you get home from lectures hungry. Leave something out to defrost in the morning and it will be ready for you to heat up as soon as you get home. Win win!
2. Shop at the end of the day
Students on a thrifty budget will be familiar with the attractions of the ‘reduced-to-clear’ aisle. Those yellow sticky labels can save you pounds off the cost of fresh fruit and veg, bread and other regular store-cupboard items. Timing your supermarket shop at the point when these yellow labels appear is a good cost-saving strategy. This of course depends on the individual supermarket, but will follow a pattern. Work that out and you’re onto a winner. Just make sure to consume the items, or put them in the freezer to make them last longer. Don’t be tempted by things you would not normally buy, only to end up throwing them away.
3. Buddy up with your friends
Whether living in shared accommodation or in halls, getting a group together to buy common items can help you take advantage of the massive discounts that are available for those who buy in bulk. Staple foods such as tins of tomatoes, rice and pasta are a good place to start, while setting up an online supermarket account and spreading the delivery costs between you takes the hassle out of food shopping.
4. Become voucher savvy
While it is usually good advice to shop around, loyalty to one supermarket can pay off. Points-based loyalty cards are not as bountiful as they once were, but using them does give you vouchers which can offer cash-back or savings on certain goods that you buy regularly. Make sure to check the vouchers you receive and store them in your purse or wallet, so that they’re with you next time you shop. There’s nothing more annoying than having a £10 off voucher at home when you need it at the till!
5. Head for own-label products
The cost of buying premium brands can quickly mount up. You might be looking for prestige on the odd occasion, and everyone’s loyal to that one brand or product, but on the whole shopping own-label should be a priority for students looking to cut costs. For the majority of items, the difference in quality is minimal, particularly when using products for cooking, so there’s really no need to worry about losing that Michelin Star.