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shopping basics
Things to keep in stock
Keep a basic supply of food in stock and add the extras as you need them e.g. bread, butter, milk, cheese, rice or dried pasta or pulses such as couscous or bulghur wheat, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, stock cubes, onions, mixed herbs and salt and pepper.

If you enjoy small scale gardening in a pot or window box, grow your own herbs from March until October – cheap and much tastier than dried herbs.

Make a list
Or use a quick chart or Mind-Map to categorise your shopping into fruit and veg, tins, dairy, cleaning products etc. to save time, and reduce temptation as you wander through all those aisles of food.

Buy wisely

Eat before you go!
Have a small snack e.g. tea and biscuits, or toast before you go. If you go when you’re absolutely starving, then all reason goes out the window and you’ll fill up the trolley with all the things you won’t be able to eat before the sell-by dates – wasting precious cash.

Not sure what to buy?
If in doubt, go first to the bargain shelves and see what has been reduced for consumption that day, and that could influence your menu.

Buying a lot?
If using a supermarket that offers online shopping, check how much the delivery charge is. It could be cheaper than you think, and save you a lot of time and effort. If you and your housemates do your online shopping together you can split the delivery charge.

Hate fighting through the crowds?
Avoid busy times around the weekend, and take advantage of 24 hours shopping when available. Bear in mind that certain types of stock may be limited or unavailable later in the day and early in the morning.

Cheaper lines
Instead of buying the more expensive brands, go for the store’s own brand. Some stores even do an economy range, with fairly plain packaging. There’s not much in it when it comes to taste, but quite a bit when it comes to paying.

Buy big
If you can afford it, buy larger packs of things, which are always cheaper in the long run e.g. washing powder, multi-packs of juice.

Loyalty cards
These are good if you always use the same store, and various supermarkets offer different deals. They are not credit cards. The card is swiped each time you shop and after a period of time (often about 3 months) this is turned into money-back vouchers to spend in the store. The card can also be swiped when you buy fuel at the store’s petrol station.