Doing the family food shopping can be a daunting experience at the best of times but when you're trying to stick to a tight budget, it can reduce a grown adult to tears.
And while we'd all love to cut our food shopping bill in half, few of us have time to do much more than a mad dash round our local Tesco or a frantic online shop. But never fear - there are some quick and easy ways to trim the fat from your food shopping bill. For starters, try these tricks for cutting your food shopping bill…
Create less food waste
According to Love Food Hate Waste we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink at an annual cost to us of £12.5bn a year, and the average family could save a whopping £700 a year simply by throwing away less food. One way to do this, they recommend, is to make sure you're storing your food correctly so that it stays fresher for longer. Keep apples in the fridge rather than the fruit bowl, store potatoes in a cool dark place rather than the fridge, and try keeping your bread in the freezer. That tip alone has put paid to the shocking number of half-eaten loaves I end up chucking out. Check out their list of surprisingly freezable foods, too. (Bananas? Who knew!)
Make friends with meal planning
Chances are you're already a convert to this canny money-saving way of doing your food shopping, or totally convinced that you just don't have enough time for meal planning. I was in the second camp until I discovered just how much money - easily £30 per week - I save by meal planning and shopping online. No more last-minute dashes to the shop to 'get something for tea' that invariably ends up with me buying a bunch of other things I hadn't really planned on buying but end up picking up because they're on special offer. Or because I gave in to pester power. Which leads me to my next point.
Always shop online
No such thing as pester power when you shop online. Time your delivery slot carefully and you can snaffle getting your groceries delivered to your door for as little as £1, and most major supermarkets offer money-saving delivery deals in the form of a regular 'pass' where you buy a set number of deliveries in advance. Or try ordering your groceries online from your supermarket and then opt for their click and collect service, picking up your shopping at a time that suits you. It goes without saying that you should make the most of supermarket loyalty cards when you're shopping online, too, and keep an eye out for the online-only exclusive offers that most supermarkets run year-round.
Use vouchers and coupons
Keep a close eye on our vouchers page because the savings you can make by using supermarket coupons and vouchers soon add up. Remember Jordan Cox, the teenager who paid 4p for £600 worth of shopping a few Christmases ago? Extreme couponing is never going to be my bag but it might be yours!
Invest in a slow cooker
I love my slow cooker for how much easier it's made my life - there's nothing like throwing the family's dinner in the slow cooker in the morning and coming back several hours later to a home-cooked meal ready to be served. But a slow cooker can also save you stacks of money, too - ditch the pricey cuts of meat we all tend to favour and opt for cheaper alternatives which are equally tasty (if not more so) when cooked in a slow cooker. Mine's this Morphy Richards from Amazon* and I wouldn't be without it.
Try new recipes
We all get stuck in a rut from time to time when it comes to planning the family's meals but it can be hard to save money on your food bill if you only ever cook the same things. So why not spend some time seeking out some money-saving recipes that you can try at home - you can't beat Cooking On A Bootstrap for this, if you ask me. You could even set yourself a challenge to see how little you can spend on family meal shopping in one week, using new recipes and a spot of careful meal planning.
Don't forget the 'cheap' shops
Whether it's fruit at an unbeatable price from Aldi or an amazing deal on nappies at Lidl, the smaller supermarkets can often save you pounds. And not just the obvious stores either - it's often assumed that small, independent shops are more expensive than supermarkets but I regularly bag bargains on basics like tea bags, biscuits and cereal by nipping into my local indie stores to see what's on special offer.
Brave the supermarket's own brand
I tend to steer clear of 'own brand' anything on account of that time my kids claimed that our local supermarket's version of Rice Krispies were basically inedible. But if you buy carefully, opting for things like tinned produce and household goods that won't elicit a meltdown at the breakfast table, you can shave a good few pounds off your grocery bill. Incidentally, I happen to think that Sainsburys Basics peanut butter is hands down the tastiest there is. At 65p for 340g it's only a couple of pence more than Asda's cheapest! (I'm still tempted to try decanting the 'inedible' breakfast cereal into an empty Rice Krispies packet to see whether they can really tell the difference.
We'd love to hear your ideas for saving money on your food bill. What tips would you add to this list?