How to: Reduce your monthly food shop

How to: Reduce your monthly food shop
Written by Tara Flynn
Published on 31st August 2023
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The average weekly family food shop comes in at £58.00 totalling around £251.33 per month; just for food! It's easy to overspend so use these tips to keep your shopping basket in check.


Just like loans, it pays to compare. You could save a serious amount of money just by shopping at different supermarkets. Check out each of your local supermarkets, compare your shops and find out which is cheapest. Lidl and Aldi are rising in popularity and often have great quality products at rock bottom prices.

If you’re having to travel for miles to get to the cheaper shop, have a look at how much you’re spending on travel. You might actually be spending more in petrol than you’re saving on your shop.


If you head to the supermarket or start an online shop without knowing your money limit, you could eat up more cash than you would ideally like to spend! If your food shop is breaking the bank, set a lower budget and challenge yourself to only spend this much once you're in the supermarket. You can use our budget planner to see if you are overspending in any other areas too.


Generally, the more money you pay for something, the prettier the packaging becomes. This makes us think it must taste much better than the cheaper options so we buy it! But don’t be fooled, often you can’t tell the difference between branded products and the supermarket’s own. It might only be a few pennies less but once it comes to paying, you will notice a difference!

You could save up to £850 per year just by swapping for own branded products. For example, a single can of Heinz beans can cost as much as 75p whilst an own brand can is as little as 23p!


The average family in the UK throws away £420 a year in food! If we handed you the cheque of the same value, the last thing you would do is throw it in the bin so why do the same with the food you spent your hard earned cash on. We’ve given you a breakdown of when it’s okay to throw away:

  • Best before date: This is all about quality and less to do with being a health risk. The food will taste best if eaten before this date but don’t let this put you off. Use taste, smell and sight to find out if the food is okay to eat.
  • Use-by date: Don’t risk it! The use-by date is a warning for you to make sure you eat it by then. Throwing away grub you thought had plenty of life in can be a pain but it's not worth the risk. Keep track of the dates on your food and make sure it gets used before the date.
  • Display-until and sell-by: Ignore these dates, they’re instructions for the people working in the shop. Find the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date instead.
Supermarkets store the foods with the soonest use-by date at the front of the shelves. Pick from the back of the shelves and you’ll have more time to use your food before it goes out of date!


If you’ve got the room to spare at home (i.e. a second freezer outside, under stairs storage, etc.) then take advantage of big saver deals. If you can get beef mince on a buy one get one free deal, buy in bulk and pop it in the freezer. It’ll save you money and you will probably need to go shopping less.


During deliveries and shelf-stacking, items can become damaged but still have plenty of life left in them. Although not aesthetically pleasing, prices can be really reduced. Dented tin cans (for beans and peas for example) can be as low as 10p each but the product is just the same!


It can be easy to grab the microwave ready meals or pre-cut vegetables but it can cost twice as much to buy your food ready-to-go. It takes a little extra time but you could save some serious cash each week by opting for the unprepared options.


Making an extra effort to save money on your food bills can feel like a real chore but it can certainly pay off in the long run. Get organised and it will become second nature for you to start reaching for the own brand or unprepared iterms instead of their much more expensive alternatives.


Get started on your Take Control journey.

Tara Flynn
Written by
Tara Flynn
COO, Co-Founder & Take Control Author at Choose Wisely

Tara started working in consumer finance in 2008, and then went on to co-found Choose Wisely back in 2011.