Tips for managing food bills

With the increase in the cost of living, it is important to manage your food bills. Below are a range of tips and tools you can use to help you make savings on food bills this winter.

1. Meal prep

A lot of money is wasted on groceries that aren’t used and are just thrown out. Meal prepping is planning your meals out in the week – this helps you know exactly what you need to buy and in what quantity, reducing the size of your grocery shop, saving money and meaning less wastage. All you need to do is sit down with a pen and paper, make a seven day chart and choose what meals will be made each day. You can use websites like ‘BBC Good Food’ and ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’ to help with ideas, recipes and accessing quantities. More on healthy eating on a budget here.

2. Supermarket reduced ‘yellow sticker’ discounts

'Yellow sticker' discounts are when items have been reduced to clear, and have got a yellow sticker on them. The first yellow stickers tend to appear mid-morning, and price reductions begin early evening, when stores cut prices by 75% and more, but timings depend on the supermarket.

3. Use a free app to find end-of-day discounts at cafés, restaurants & supermarkets

Too Good To Go aims to reduce food waste and save you money at the same time. It links you to local restaurants, supermarkets, cafés and bakeries which have leftover food at the end of the day, and lets you buy it at a discounted rate.

Plus food-sharing app Olio links you with others nearby who have surplus grub to give away, so it's not wasted – like Freecycle does for unwanted furniture and other items.

4. Changing supermarkets

Consider changing supermarkets for budget ones like Lidl and Aldi for cheaper groceries. A handy comparison tool, Trolley, lets you compare the cost of products at the major supermarkets.

5. Own brand or ‘Value’ groceries

Consider switching the brands you use. Rather than buying branded goods, get the supermarket’s own brand version which will save you some money. Do this for each product and you could find your grocery bill down by a third or even more.

6. Loyalty schemes

Make the most of supermarket loyalty schemes and discounts.

7. Cut out non-essentials

Cut out non-essentials such as snacks, fizzy drinks and unnecessary food.

8. Use by dates VS Best before dates

A use-by date on food is about safety. Never eat food after the use-by date, even if it looks and smells ok, as it could make you ill.

However, the best before date (BBE) is about quality and not safety. Foods with a best before date indicate it will be safe to eat after this date but its flavour and texture might not be as good. If something is past its best-before date, you don't necessarily need to throw it away – use its appearance and taste to decide.

9. Tools to use up fridge/cupboard leftovers

To stop wasting food that you don't know what to do with, use special sites that suggest recipes for the items left over in your fridge or cupboard. E.g  SuperCook or BigOven – just input what items are in your fridge or cupboard and they will suggest a recipe for them from thousands. Alternatively, just go to this site's Old Style Recipe Index and scroll down to the relevant ingredient.

10.  Get free food from signing up for apps/offers

Make sure you supplement these supermarket shopping tips by making the most of all the food freebies available, usually by signing up for a newsletter or app. The likes of Krispy Kreme, Burger King and Taco Bell offer freebies to get you through the door, yet often you don't need to spend anything to get the freebie. See this guide for more detail on which apps/offers are available.

11.  Check out supermarket schemes

Check out supermarket schemes for places kids can eat free or for as little as £1: