How to become a smarter supermarket shopper and beat rising grocery price inflation

The busiest shopping season of the year is upon us, with Christmas just four weeks away. But with soaring food prices putting a huge strain on household budgets, Christmas 2022 may not feel like the happiest time of the year for many consumers.

In fact, food inflation hit a new record 13.4 percent in the 12 weeks ended Oct. 30, figures from Kantar showed earlier this month. This means that if you didn’t change your grocery shopping and shopping habits, you would end up spending almost €1,000 more per year on groceries.

“As food and drink prices continue to rise in tandem with a rise in household bills, the impact on shoppers’ budgets is inevitable for many Irish consumers,” said Emer Healy, Senior Retail Analyst at Kantar.

The average shopper now spends €7,019 a year on groceries, so it makes sense to get smarter when shopping. Here are 12 tips and tricks to help you beat food inflation:

1 Plan your meals for each week

Look online for family meal plans — many with a detailed shopping list you can download to your phone — and shop with those recipes in mind

“These recipes should preferably be for meals that you can make in bulk to last a day or two, like cakes and pasta dishes,” Carol Brick, who runs personal finance firm CWM Wealth Management.

If you don’t plan your meals in advance, you’re more likely to waste food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Research released earlier this year by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that the average Irish household wastes €700 a year buying food they don’t use, with 55 per cent of people throwing away food because it has expired.

“Throwing away food is literally throwing away money,” says Brick.

2 Write a shopping list

Review what groceries you already have in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer, then write a grocery list based on any extra ingredients you’ll need to turn what you have in stock into meals for the week ahead to convert When you get to the supermarket, stick to the list.

3 Make a note of any discounts that are advertised

Be aware of special offers advertised not only in-store but also online, in newspapers and other media.

“It can be worthwhile for you to buy a month’s supply of an item that you would normally buy if you could take advantage of a huge discount,” says John Lowe of financial consultancy

4 Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry

If you go to the supermarket right after work and haven’t eaten since lunch, have a healthy snack like a banana beforehand – Studies show you’re more likely to buy foods that can be eaten faster or make unnecessary purchases – Food when your stomach is growling.

“Being hungry hampers the decision-making process and you may leave the supermarket with more than you intended and with more snacks than essential foods,” says Brick.

5 Leave the kids at home (if you can)

“Shopping with kids can add significantly to your weekly grocery bill, and supermarkets know it,” says Brick. “That’s why sweets at the checkouts and snacks are at eye level. Leave them at home and avoid the power of pests and overspending.”

6 Don’t Forget Your “Bags For Life”

Keep them in the trunk of your car when you go to the supermarket. If you don’t bring your own bags, you will have to pay more at the checkout when the trolley is full. Most grocery chains have ditched the 22-cent plastic bags and instead sell reusable, recyclable or paper bags. Dunnes Stores charges 70 cents for each reusable bag, while Aldi charges between 55 cents and 99 cents depending on the material used.

7 Look for the yellow or red stickers

If you’ve noticed shoppers hanging out in a certain aisle at the same time every day, they’re probably waiting for a salesperson with the yellow-sticker (or red-sticker, in the case of Aldi) bargains to come by.

Foodstuffs with a yellow sticker are rewarded with huge discounts because of their declining shelf life. You can also find bargains with yellow stickers at the end of a holiday or a big event like Christmas.

Find out what day of the week or what time of day your local supermarket releases their yellow-sticker groceries and shop at those times — you can often cook entire meals around what’s discounted. However, keep in mind that you may have competition from other buyers on the same game, so get there in time.

8 Have a No Spending Day

Brick says: “Leave your wallet at home at least two days a week and do your best not to spend. Use the groceries in your freezer or pantry for convenient meals that will save you a fortune and leave you smugly satisfied.”

9 Being a regular customer of a discount chain

The discounters can usually offer cheaper prices because their stores are usually smaller than those of other chains, which keeps running costs low. As they often sell just one label for groceries rather than a range of brands and private labels, this further keeps costs under control through greater economies of scale.

10 Avoid ready meals

You pay a huge premium just for the convenience of ready meals. For example, SuperValu sells two fresh ready meals for €12 (it was €10 earlier this year). If you cook from scratch, for €12 you can make enough dinner for at least three days.

11 Don’t be a brand snob

If you’re old enough to remember the Yellow Pack generic brand sold by Quinnsworth, you might remember the stigma that came with bags full of Yellow Pack purchases. Today, consumers pride themselves on bagging a bargain in the form of private label products – private label now accounts for almost half of the Irish grocery market. And rightly so, as many of these products are made by the same company that makes the branded versions.

“The cheaper supermarket own brands are often very similar in taste and quality and can come from the same production line and just be packaged differently,” says Brick.

12 Buy less meat

You don’t have to go vegan or vegetarian, but eating less meat isn’t just good for the planet — it’s good for your wallet, too. Instead of chicken fillets (which have skyrocketed in price), use more eggs and seasonal produce.

“Follow the recipes in free supermarket magazines, since most of the ingredients are seasonal and available at the store,” says Brick.

13 loyalty cards

If you’re pressed by your weekly grocery shopping, it’s worth downloading your supermarket’s loyalty program app and checking before entering the store to see what discount vouchers or coupons are available that could reduce your grocery bill.

There are a few caveats to keep in mind before using a loyalty card. First, supermarkets don’t reward you with discounts just for that — they want the data they can glean from your personal spending patterns.

But if you regularly share personal information on social media, you probably won’t mind a supermarket chain collecting data about your shopping habits.

Typically, with most loyalty programs, such as For example, the Tesco Clubcard gives you a point worth 1 cent for every euro you spend, which means you would need to spend €100 in store to earn just €1.

However, these points are more valuable when redeemed at Tesco’s rewards partners such as, Milano and Stena Line. SuperValu moved away from the points model this year and instead offers coupons and vouchers. Dunnes Stores ValueCard sends out coupons a few times a year once you’ve earned 200 points, but the most popular among regular discount shoppers is their Shop and Save offer of €10 off your next purchase when you spend €50. But be careful when tracking coupon limits in case you overspend.

“Try to ONLY buy around the $50 mark,” says personal financial advisor Carol Brick. “Supermarkets rely on you to spend more to recoup their margin.” How to become a smarter supermarket shopper and beat rising grocery price inflation

Fry Electronics Team

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