How to halve your shopping bill…easily!

I was recently asked for one of my biggest money saving tips, and I quickly realised that by shopping monthly we have reduced our shopping, essentially halved our shopping bill pretty much overnight, and we have been doing this for 18 months now. If you want to know how to save money on food shopping, read on…

lower cost of food shopping trolleys

Monthly and Online Shopping

First of all if you have kids (especially toddlers) shopping in the store is not easy is it? We stopped going into the store when Nate turned 18 months, it just got to be too much hard work, with the tantrums and the ‘I wants…’ and grabbing things and him disappearing, it is way too stressful. The good aspect of living in the age we do is that we have options now and therefore we opted to shop online, using either delivery or click and collect, that was the first step to making our shopping lives easier, and it is also the best way to shave a lot of money off your food shopping bill. Mostly because when you are in the store, you cannot easily keep a running total, and you get swept up by ‘deals’ and purchase things just because you see them.

Reduce your bill

How do you reduce your food shopping bill by 50%?

Step 1: Shop online

Step 2: Shop monthly

Since we used to shop every week my husband was reticent at first but we eased ourselves in and did bi-weekly shops to start with, then every 3 weeks, and finally started shopping just once per month, but how?

What you will need is….a very large freezer(s), a pantry or lots of cupboard space, will-power, organisation skills and a bit of creativity.

How do we do it? Even though I was inspired by a lovely american blogger, I didn’t want to spend as much time, visit as many stores as she did, and spend a whole day prepping the food – because I am inherently lazy, so this is our method which is very much adjusted for our family and I suggest you adjust to fit your needs:

  1. Before you do your first shop, you need to keep a list of all the essentials you run out of, we have a list we keep on the fridge and add to it as we throw it away. This is very important, so that you don’t purchase items you already have in stock.
  2. Set a budget and stick to it (although to start with you may have to adjust to it to get it just right), this is very easy to do when shopping online as you know your total all the way through the process. Our budget is £170 per month, but we allow £10 per week for incidentals, which I use to purchase fresh fruit and yoghurts for Nate’s lunches, I think it is very important to have fresh fruit every week, so this is my non-negotiable. That brings our monthly total to £200, which is half of what we used to pay (by purchasing weekly in the store).
  3. During the first week of the month we start putting our list together by using the list on the fridge, by checking all the cupboards and fridge and freezer to see what is remaining, then we shop online with Tesco, adding all the items to the list that we need. We do this over the space of a week because we are only shopping once a month, and you don’t want to forget anything! Although we are much quicker at this now that we have a long list of favourites stored with Tesco. We mostly compile the list using the Tesco shopping app, I use the one on my Iphone and hubby uses the Ipad, so we can simultaneously add to the shopping list wherever we are.
  4. Think carefully about your quantities. We usually go through a loaf of bread per week (for example) so we knew to buy 4 to last a month, but of course you will need the freezer space for these hefty loaves too.
  5. Meal planning. You will need to plan your meals, at least a little, so that you have enough food to last the month.
  6. Think about what freezes and especially what doesn’t freeze so you can have back-ups in mind. Some examples of items that do not freeze well: fruit, eggs, cream, tomatoes.
  7. Place your order only once you are happy with your total and that you are within budget, although don’t be hard on yourself if you are new to this process, it will take a few months to get the perfect monthly shop and to work out what is the budget your family can stick to without feeling like you are missing out on any food. We don’t actually have less food in the house, it’s just we don’t have all those superfluous items on our shopping bill that we used to have such as: that magazine that had your favourite celeb on the front cover, a chocolate bar to keep the toddler happy, that fabulous chocolate dessert that just looked amazing… or wow those crisps are buy 3 packets get 1 free…

shopping trolly full of food

I think you see what I mean. If you have gone over budget it is very easy to review your basket, have another look, make sure you and the hubby haven’t bought the same item twice (that has happened to us a couple of times), do you need everything on the list? Are the quantities right? If you are going over budget every month this is a sign that your budget is not realistic.

8. Click ‘order now’ use any vouchers you have and then wait for your delivery…it will be a shock at first…putting away a month’s worth of food can take some time, you will have to freeze a lot more items than usual, you may have to break open some items and divide them into four to last you through the weeks. We do this with ham for example, we divide the slices into four and freeze them in small freezer bags, then take one out a week, that is how we have fresh ham (and other items) every week.

Big Savings

That’s it! By shopping online and shopping only once per month, you will significantly reduce your food shopping bill, which will save you a lot of money, we save £2,400 per year by doing this, which pays for our family holiday! It also saves us time, energy and no supermarket tantrums.

We used to spend £400 per month on our food shopping, what does your family spend? What do you think you could reduce it to, using this method?

Image credits: First image is by Gayle Nicholson, second image is by Randomwire


27 thoughts on “How to halve your shopping bill…easily!

  1. I’d definitely agree – I do one big (huge) monthly shop then top-ups, but I need to get more organised about those. As you say, things like fruit and yogurt need picking up more regularly, but it seems like I’ll nip in to get some bananas and spend £20 on odds and ends.

    With the favourites, at least it’s easier to whip through the regular stuff once it’s set up too.
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Why you shouldn’t apologise for babies on planesMy Profile

  2. This is really interesting! We were looking into buying one of the big chest freezers to put in the garage so we could stockpile food instead of shopping weekly.
    From what you’ve said it does sound like you have to be really organised to make this work which we as a family fail at miserably.
    How long did it take you to get into the new routine of the monthly shop and do you meal plan for a whole month?

    Thanks for linking up to #ThriftyThursday
    Gina Caro recently posted…Thrifty ThursdayMy Profile

    • Actually hun, you don’t have to be super organised, that is the beauty of this easy method, you will simply save money just by shopping less frequently and because you can buy things in bulk and not get swept up in the shops. I am not terribly good at meal planning, I started doing it at first and now I just have a sense of what is the right amount of food.

      We shopped every 2 weeks about 3 or 4 times, which was pretty easy, then went to 3 weeks and did that about twice, a bit trickier, then 4 weeks which was tricky at first but now we have it down to a science and I can’t believe (looking back) that we used to spend over £400 on food, considering we don’t feel at all hard-done-by and have plenty of food in the house for a lot less money and time.

      Give it a try hun, if it doesn’t work you can always go back but I am sure you would save money even if you did every 2 weeks.

      Kat x
      Mum for Fun recently posted…Top 10 Movies of 2014 – part 2My Profile

  3. Really interesting post, my husband has challenged me to reduce our food budget. Currently at £450 for 4 (one of our children eats pretty much adult portions), with extremely fussy eaters. I do think if we switched from Sainsbury’s to Aldi that would make an enormous difference but they won’t eat their yoghurts! This month I am trying to use what we have in the freezer so we would have room to bulk buy:)
    vicky myers recently posted…Tips for Thrifty ShoppingMy Profile

    • That can indeed be true, although if you are referring to fresh fruit and vegetables, there are a lot of studies that show that frozen fruit and veg are actually healthier than fresh and retain more nutrients than those that are bought from super markets (less so if you buy from farmers markets) as they are frozen very quickly after picking, whereas some fruit and veg that arrives in our supermarkets can be over a week old by the time we purchase them. Just something to think about 😉
      Mum for Fun recently posted…How to halve your shopping bill…easily!My Profile

  4. I really like all these tips, and it is in fact pretty much how we used to do our shopping when we lived in the UK.

    Here in Italy we live in a teeny-tiny flat with a teeny-tiny freezer, so shopping once a month doesn’t work as well. A shame because I think you’re absolutely right about it saving you money! Once you get past the initial stock taking it’s so quick, too.

    Now we do a big shop (in a big superstore) once every 2-3 weeks, and I buy lots of dried and tinned things rather than freezables. I get my fresh fruit, veg and cheese from the local market (ridiculously cheap, unlike at farmers markets in the UK) once a week. The one thing I also trip up on is “little shops” at convenience stores to see us through when we’ve run out of things like milk and yoghurt for the toddler – I ALWAYS add other stuff that I know I could get cheaper elsewhere.
    Hmm. Perhaps it’s time to get a bit stricter with myself!
    Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork recently posted…{The Ordinary Moments} #29 – City KidsMy Profile

  5. This is a very good advise! We do the same although we do not have much freezer and cupboard space so we do online shopping more than once a month but it is a huge savings. #twinklytuesday

  6. Worth a try but I think I need to get some courage before I do it. I live between two major supermarkets and I’m just a complete sucker for a supermarket wander round! #twinklytuesdays
    doctomum recently posted…Why Babies CryMy Profile

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