It’s easy to get carried away at Christmas, especially when you’re surrounded by festive food and drink. But you don’t need to be a scrooge to save money in the supermarket – here are our top 10 tips.
1. Make a list
Don’t spend extra money on the packaging without realising. Go straight to the fruit and veg aisles and choose your own vegetables from the loose items section. It’ll save you money and take away the tendency to overbuy.
2. Go to the market
Supermarkets have to pay for electricity, water, building rents etc etc and some of that cost is passed on to shoppers in the price of their products. Market stalls don’t have to pay those charges so are often a lot cheaper and there are real bargains to be had at the end of the day, so shop late!
3. Think about turkey alternatives
With everyone going mad for turkeys, sales of other meats suffer, so they’re discounted more regularly. Roast beef is a popular alternative to a turkey and chances are you’ll already have horseradish sauce in your fridge so you won’t have to splash out on cranberry sauce, stuffing, or other trimmings.
4. Spread the cost
If you know you’re going to need snacks like crisps, nuts, sweets, spirits etc for the relatives, buy some every week. That way you can take advantage of weekly offers in the run-up to Christmas and it means you won’t have to buy them all at once when they may be full price, just before the big day itself.
5. Shop online
Shopping online saves time, money and effort, but it also stops you from impulse buying. In fact, a recent study showed that shopping online could save the average family £160 this Christmas. While you’re going up and down the aisles you’ll often pick up things that aren’t on your list just because you like the look of them (supermarkets are designed to make you do just that). Food websites will also try and encourage you to buy extras, but they’re easier to ignore.
6. Don’t overbuy ‘just in case’
Christmas is such a social time and when you have guests you’ll want to give them food and drink, especially when people pop round. But don’t forget that chances are you’ll be going out more than usual too to parties and other social gatherings, so be realistic and think carefully when you’re buying for guests.
7. Look out for special drinks deals
Drinks are one thing you can buy in advance as and when you see the deals. Try not to be seduced by posh champagne labels, even if they’re heavily discounted, supermarket-label wines and champagnes can be just as good and you’ll save even more money. If you’re having a party, don’t buy your Christmas Eve/Day drinks until that’s out of the way – you may have enough left over to get you through Christmas without spending any more cash!
8. Don’t buy too big a turkey
If you do buy one (see tip 3), work out how much turkey you’ll need for the exact amount of people you’re feeding so you’re not eating turkey for the rest of December. 9. Don’t be sucked in by special offers
Special offers do, of course, save you money, but you often end up buying more items simply because they’re cheaper than usual. And, in the run-up to Christmas, supermarkets will be filling their stores with bright, cheery decorations, music and money-saving offers to make you spend more. Stay focused and only buy things on special offer you were going to buy anyway.
10. Buy own-brand
Supermarkets offer their own ranges of popular products at cheaper prices, so think before you reach for branded items. For example, if you’re buying biscuits to go with your cheese, if you lay them out on a plate and throw away the packaging, none of your guests will know you’ve bought the cheaper own-brand version. Check our guide to supermarket value products you swear by.