How to save money on supermarket shopping

Food prices have rocketed over the last two years. So, here’s a trolley-load of top tips showing you how to make savings on your groceries.

Supermarkets are experts in making us part with our cash. So, it’s important to know how to beat them at their own game. From discount vouchers and coupons, to store loyalty cards and cashback offers, we’ve got you covered.

It’s also worth checking out our guides to the key consumer rights you should keep up your sleeve when shopping, and how to cut your food waste.

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1. Use supermarket discount vouchers and coupons to bag money off products

Using coupons or vouchers for money off products you were going to buy anyway is a good way to save.

While you can still clip some coupons out of magazines and newspapers, or download them from the internet to print, that’s no longer the most common way. Using cashback apps, joining loyalty schemes and tracking down online voucher codes is likely to give you bigger savings. We round up all you need to know and the top coupons to use in our Supermarket discount vouchers and coupons article.

2. Compare supermarket prices the easy way

Most of us don’t have time to run between supermarkets to compare prices, but there’s an easy way to do this using the Trolley app.

This free app compares prices across most of the major supermarkets and claims you could save as much as 30% on your shopping. While it is looking at online prices, the general trend is the same in store, so it should help if you’re shopping online or in stores.

You can create shopping lists so you know which supermarket works out cheapest each week and set price alerts, so you know which is the cheapest supermarket to buy specific items. You could stock up on your freezer goods at the cheapest shop one week, then head to another the next week to fill your cleaning cupboard.

You should also factor in the cost of fuel or your public transport fare. Unless you can reach a competitor supermarket cheaply, you could wipe out any savings on the journey to and from it. It’s also worth considering the time cost of heading to different stores – after all, your personal time is a valuable commodity in itself.

3. Switch to supermarket own brands

Ditching brands in favour of a supermarket own-brand is an easy way to save well over £100 a year at the till. You can maximise these savings by going for the supermarket’s most basic range.

In many cases you may not notice the difference on taste, especially with store cupboard staples such as rice, pasta, tinned tomatoes and kidney beans. So it’s worth giving it a go.  

For example, we found that a tin of Napolina chopped tomatoes (400g) cost £1 at Sainsbury’s, but the supermarket own brand is just 49p for the same amount, saving over 50p a tin. Cheaper still is its budget Stamford Street Co. version at 35p, also for 400g. 

And if you’re buying cheddar cheese, switching brands could save you nearly £1 a pack.  At Tesco, a 350g pack of Cathedral City extra mature cheddar cheese costs £3,49, while its own version costs £3 for slightly more at 400g. Cheapest still is its own basic version, Creamfields Mature at £2.55 (400g).

4. Shop later in the day to bag yellow-sticker discounts

Most supermarkets start discounting fresh food with a short shelf life from midday onwards. That’s when those little yellow stickers start popping up. And if you can wait till around 7pm or later, you could save up to around 70%.  

Most supermarkets have special sections where they put all their discounted produce. If you shop in the same store regularly and get to know the staff, they may be able to tip you off about the exact times they start discounting fresh food.

To maximise your savings, it’s worth looking for items you can snap up and freeze after buying, rather than just products you intend to eat on the day. 

While eating out can be more expensive than cooking from scratch, supermarket cafes may also discount food later in the day too, which could make for a cheap tea. 

5. Don’t impulse buy, stick to your list

A quick dash to the supermarket on the way home from work can mean you spend more with impulse buys and poor meal planning. Impulse purchases are a way supermarkets make a lot of their money.

To save money (and help to prevent food waste), it’s worth going through the cupboards, fridge and freezer before heading to the shops. You can then work out meal plans for the week.

If you’re stuck for ideas, sign up to the free Kitche app, which comes up with recipes based on the ingredients in your cupboard and fridge.

Cutting food waste can save the average UK household £500 a year according to WRAP, as 70% of the UK food waste comes from within our homes. 

6. Join a supermarket loyalty scheme

Supermarket loyalty cards can mean savings on groceries, plus money off vouchers, points and even free food. Most stores now limit any in-store discounts to those with a loyalty card, so don’t go shopping without one. 

Most, with the exception of the Co-op (whose membership costs £1), are free to join, so it’s worth signing up for a card or downloading the app in case you end up shopping at a different supermarket.

Tesco Clubcard members can earn points on shopping to spend at the till or swap for treats such as days outs. Clubcard holders can also save up to 50% on more than 8,000 grocery and household items, both in store and online with Tesco’s Clubcard Prices offer. At the moment, the supermarket is offering double points

Sainsbury’s shoppers who have a Nectar card, can make savings with a similar scheme, called Nectar Prices, with discounts across hundreds of lines. Other supermarkets run their own loyalty schemes, such as Morrisons More, Asda Rewards and the Lidl Plus scheme.

It’s worth being aware that loyalty card prices can still work out as more expensive than a like-for-like (or, near-like-for-like) products at other retailers. See our tip on comparing higher up in this list to find out how to check.

7. Look low (or high) to find low prices

The cheapest products are often found on the lower shelves in supermarkets. But they may also be on the top shelf. Retailers almost always place pricier products at eye level – so it’s worth looking around more to save money.

8. Buy wonky fruit and veg  

Wonky fruit and vegetables may not look attractive, but you won’t taste the difference and buying them can help save on your weekly food bill.

Morrisons is one of several supermarkets selling a range of fresh wonky fruit and vegetables.  This includes apples, raspberries, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and courgettes. 

While you may not make big savings each time, over a year, those savings can add up.

Buying a pack of wonky carrots (1kg) costs 40p at Morrisons compared with a standard 1kg pack for 50p.  And its wonky parsnips cost 55p for a 500g bag, compared with 69p for the non-wonky version. If you want fruit for smoothies or pies, you can save 57p buying a pack of wonky raspberries for £1.58 (150g), whereas the standard pack costs £2.15 for the same amount.

These savings may seem small but if you’re swapping all your usual vegetables for the wonky version, you can easily save around £1 a week which is an annual saving of over £50 a year. Plus, you’re helping to reduce food waste. 

9. Eat seasonally

By timing your food choices with what’s being harvested in the UK, you may be able to save money. For example, when strawberries are in season, you’ll typically see big price reductions or more cost-effective large packs appearing on shelves.

The other benefit of eating seasonally is the quality of the produce. You’ll find the taste and texture of many types of fruit and veg noticeably improves when they’re in season. To find out what’s currently growing in the UK, visit the Eat The Seasons website.

10. Avoid smaller stores (if you can)

Research routinely shows that store prices are higher in supermarket convenience stores, like Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. An example of this came in 2023, when consumer site Which? found budget food ranges were not being stocked in smaller shops.

So, wherever possible, keep your food shopping to larger stores. If you can’t do this because you live in a city, seek out food markets or farm shops as they are usually cheaper.

11. Save with supermarket leftovers

You can save money buying up fresh food before it goes to waste with the free Too Good To Go app. It gives you the chance to snap up leftover food from supermarkets, cafes and bakeries at big savings. 

At Morrisons you can get a £10 Magic Bag with grocery items such as cheese, bread, fruit, vegetables and milk for just £3.09. Other places that are participating include Costa, Pret and Wenzel’s Bakery. While this is something of a lucky dip, you’ll get far more food than you pay for.

Go on the app, find out what’s available in your area, and then choose and pay for your Magic Bag before going along to collect it.

12. Take advantage of cheap delivery deals

Doing your supermarket shop online saves time and can save money as you may be less likely to give in to impulse buys. If you are a new online shopper, many supermarkets offer discount codes for first-time shoppers. For example, Ocado is giving newbies 25% off their first order. 

See Supermarket deliveries: how to save money on your online food shopping for more tips, including the pros and cons of delivery passes at each store.

13. Nearing the ‘best before’ date? It could be cheaper

Tinned or bottled food and drink items that are nearing or past their ‘best before’ date can be cheaper. Supermarkets often have a section near the back of the store where they add yellow stickers to products on the cusp of this date.

You can also stock up on cereals, tinned food, jams, spreads, soups and non-perishable food items from online discount warehouses such as Approved Food that are past their ‘best before’ but are still good to eat. It claims to have more than 11,000 bargains in stock  

Many are brand names including Kellogg’s, Heinz, Walkers and Cadbury. We found savings of over 50% on tins of custard, 25% off multipacks of crisps and over 30% off baked beans. Delivery costs from £3, or free on orders over £55.

While consuming things that are beyond their ‘best before’ date is perfectly safe, you should never eat food that’s exceeded its ‘use by’ date. Usually applying to fresh items, like meat and fish, items that are out of date are unsafe to eat.

Several supermarkets have started to remove these labels from dairy products in a bid to reduce food waste. For example, some retailers now ask consumers to do a ‘sniff test’ with milk before throwing it away.

14. Swap fresh for frozen food  

Buying frozen food can save food waste as you only get out what you need. The food you’re getting will also be just as nutritious as fresh food. You can usually save money this way, as frozen vegetables, meat and even ready meals can be cheaper in the freezer aisle.

In Asda, for example, you can pay 75p for a 360g pack of fresh broccoli, but a pack of frozen broccoli – more than twice the size – costs just £1.50 for 1kg. In Tesco, a fresh beef lasagne (400g) costs £3.25, but its frozen version costs just £2 for the same size.

If you do buy fresh, say if you spot a ‘yellow sticker’ discount deal, you can split packs, getting out what you need for your meal and freezing the rest.

15. Check out the international aisle

If you’re after products such as rice or soy sauce, it’s worth heading to the international food aisle to see how prices compare to elsewhere in the store. They’re not always cheaper, but often you’ll be able to bulk buy at a better price.

16. Bulk buy (if you can)

If you find a particularly good deal on a non-perishable item you tend to consume a lot of, it’s worth bulk-buying. You could save a fair few pounds over the course of a year.

17. Check if you’re eligible for Blue Light discounts

You can save money on food shopping at Asda and Iceland if you have a Blue Light card. To qualify for one you must work within certain professions, including the NHS, emergency services and healthcare. The card costs £4.99 for two years and entitles you to discounts at certain shops and restaurants. 

At Iceland, new customers can get £6 off when spending £45 or more online and all card holders can get £3 off when spending over £60 online. At Asda, Blue Light cardholders can get 10% off fresh food purchased in store, providing they also have the Asda Rewards app, and link this to their Blue Light card.

18. Earn cashback at the till

You may be able to earn cashback at the checkout depending on which card you pay with. New and existing Chase bank customers can earn 1% cashback on most purchases, including grocery shopping, when paying by its everyday debit card. You can earn 1% on qualifying spending of up to £1,500 a month, which means a maximum of £15 a month in cashback.

If you applied for your Chase account before 9 May 2023 the rules are slightly different. In this case you can earn 1% cashback when paying by debit card for the first year. The £15 monthly limit doesn’t apply in this case. In  both cases you have to pay in a minimum £500 a month to activate the cashback option.

You can also earn cashback on grocery shopping, as well as other purchases, with cashback apps including TopCashback. Offers can change but current ones include earning up to £16 at Sainsbury’s, up to £11 at Asda, up to £6 at Morrisons and up to 10% at Iceland.

19. Check your receipt to win shopping vouchers or cash

It’s always worth checking your till receipt in store in case of mistakes. However, there’s another reason to check it too. With some stores, your receipt may have details on how to win vouchers or cash prizes, which can all save money on your next shop.  

Stores want customer feedback and some will pop you into a free prize draw if you spend around five minutes of your time answering a short online survey. This can mean you win shopping vouchers or cash prizes of up to £1,000. Details of what to do will usually be on your till receipt.  

If you shop at Asda and enter its short online survey, you can be in with a chance of winning £1,000. And with the Co-op if you go online and give feedback about your shopping experience you could win £250 of Co-op shopping vouchers. 

Some feedback related prize draws run for a limited time, so it’s worth checking receipts every time you shop.

20. Enter shopping prize draws

Some supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons run regular customer feedback prize draws.  In exchange for spending around five minutes of your time sharing your opinions online about your shopping experience, you can win up to £1,000 in cash prizes.

Prizes, rules and the frequency of the prize draws vary according to the supermarket. You’ll usually need to keep hold of your till receipt if you shop in store, so you can enter the code number online.

You can win £1000 in cash each month if you share feedback on your in store shopping experience with Asda. You’ll need to enter your till receipt number on the website and only one entry per household per calendar month. Winners will receive the £1,000 prize by PayPal. 

Sainsbury’s shoppers who submit customer feedback online will be entered not a monthly prize draw to win £500 of Nectar points. Details can be found at the bottom of the store till receipts and your receipt is needed to access the survey.

And if you shop at Morrisons you can join its Morrisons Listens community to share feedback. If you do this, you will be entered into its monthly prize draw where you could win a £100 prize or one of ten £10 prizes. 

21. Take your own bags

Forgetting to pack your own bags for a trip to the supermarket can rack up your bill at the till. Most supermarkets sell a selection of ‘bags for life’ from around 30p, but more substantial ones can easily cost you £1 or more. So remember to dig yours out of the drawers.

22. Over 60s’ discounts at Iceland

If you’re aged over 60 and sign up for a free Iceland Bonus card, you can save 10% every Tuesday in store. There’s no minimum spend. All you need to do is show your bonus card and either your bus pass, driving licence or senior railcard to qualify.

23. Check your local farmers’ market for bargains

There are around 450 farmers markets across the country, so it’s worth vising your local to see if you can snap up any bargains. See how to find your nearest farmers’ market.

You may be able to save money on fresh fruit and vegetables by heading along to your local market later in the day, rather than heading to a supermarket.

While this does mean taking a chance on what’s left, heading along as traders are about to pack up, could mean you get more for your money as they clear the stalls or offer discounts. There is nothing to stop you having a haggle too to bag an even better deal. Plus, the added bonus with this is you’re supporting local producers and businesses too.

24. Look for deals on groceries at discount chains

Supermarkets aren’t the only places to find deals and it’s worth trying Poundland and B&M for your essential cupboard items.    

B&M stocks some of the big name brands including Heinz, Bisto and John West, along with cheaper lesser known brands such as Kingfisher and Seasons Harvest. Ranges include tinned fish and fruit.

Savings can vary. When we checked out the price of a multipack of Heinz spaghetti hoops, (4 x 400g), these were around the same price at B&M as most of the major supermarkets, but picking up Bisto gravy granules (320g) in B&M gave a saving of 21p compared with the best supermarket price.

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25. Should you bother with a ‘BOGOF’?

Snapping up a ‘buy one get one free’ can be a great deal if it’s something you can stick in the freezer, or it’s on non-perishable items such as toilet roll or toothpaste.

But when it comes to those ‘3 for 2’ offers, it’s worth thinking whether it’s worth buying two just to get the freebie. If it’s something you know you’ll use before it goes off, can stick in the freezer, or even give to a friend, it can be worth it. Or you could always donate the extra one to the local food bank, as most supermarkets have grocery drop-off points in store.

26. Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Sounds obvious, but if you shop when you’re hungry you’re more likely to give in to temptation. Or end up coming out having spent money on sandwiches or snacks. This can put a dent in your weekly shopping budget, so fill yourself up before you shop.

27. Take advantage of student discounts if you’re eligible

Students can get discounts on food shopping. For example, you can register with Student Beans to get £6 off a £45 online shop at Iceland.  

28. Can you win a free dinner?

There are no guarantees with this one, but it’s a free daily prize draw and you could win a meal worth £25, which saves the cost of making a meal from scratch.

To win a free dinner you need to register online, with winners drawn daily at 4pm. Check back and if you’re a winner, you can choose from restaurant gift cards or have money paid direct to your PayPal account.

In most cases you’ll get more if you opt for a gift card. Right now, options include a £25 gift card for Toby Carvery, £25 at Pizza Hut, £25 at All Bar One and £20 if you take the PayPal option.

29. Shop at your local ‘best before’ café

There are lots of local community schemes where you can turn up at a pop-up style shop, and fill a bag with surplus food from local suppliers for a nominal amount.   

The Best Before Café in Letchworth, Hertfordshire is just one example of these schemes. You can turn up and for a minimum £2 donation, fill your bag with fruit, vegetables and groceries. Plus, you get a free bag of bread. So do check what’s in your area and when it’s open.    

Other schemes may only be available to those who are struggling to put food on the table, and if this is the case you may be able to get a referral to a food bank organisation, such as the Trussell Trust.

30. Consider the best way to pay

When it comes to paying for purchases, and we’re not just talking about supermarket shopping here, your rights can vary according to the way you pay.

Paying by credit card for big ticket purchases that cost over £100, (and under £30,000), means automatic legal protection in the event the company you buy from goes bust or goods don’t arrive.  

This comes under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit act and makes both the supplier and your credit card company ‘jointly liable’. On a practical level, this means if you’re having problems tackling the retailer, you can contact your credit card provider and ask to make a ‘Section 75’ claim.

If you pay by debit card (or credit card for purchases under £100), you may be able to claim a refund in similar circumstances, using what’s known as the ‘chargeback’ scheme. 

Unlike Section 75, this is not enshrined in law, but a voluntary agreement between card companies such as Visa, Mastercard and Amex. In the event you pay for goods don’t arrive, or even buy a gift card from a store that goes bust, you can contact your bank or card company and ask them to do a ‘chargeback’. This basically reverses the transaction with the retailer’s bank so you can get your money back.