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Beating down the cost of food

foodShopping at the supermarket often feels as if it is an uphill struggle financially. Prices seem to carry on going up despite the advertising campaigns that your favourite place to shop is the cheapest or the loudly announced weekly priced reductions on display as you walk around the aisles.

There are a number of ways though to cut the shopping bill each month with some planning and organisation.

Growing your own food is now a big part of urban and suburban life. Waiting lists for allotments in a town or city is at an all-time high as more people look for a slice of the Good Life and set up their own little bit of self-sufficiency.

If you manage to find an allotment, it’s a great way to save huge amounts on many fruit and vegetables throughout the year. Whilst you won’t be able to grow exotic items such as bananas and pineapples, you can switch the food your family eats to seasonal ones which will grow quickly and easily in the UK climate. There’s lots of information online about growing produce so no need to invest in books on the subject and for those who end up with a glut, there’s money to be made by selling it to friends at either car boot sales or farmers markets. Even those without an allotment can grow a number of items from strawberries through to salad items and garlic in even the smallest of gardens and for those living in a flat, there is a growth in popularity of window sill growing for herbs and cherry tomatoes.

Using local shops can save money and build up great community relationships. Independent bakers, butchers, greengrocers and fishmongers are often cheaper than the supermarket would lead you to believe and as you get to know the staff, there’s often going to be an extra pork chop or few potatoes added to the bag when you visit.

It’s all about timing when visiting a supermarket. Every store will reduce fresh items on a daily basis and most will do this twice a day. Those who wait for the price stickers to show the lower prices save huge amounts and sometimes have fantastic opportunities to fill freezers with items such as bread for pennies per loaf.

Buying fresh and cooking from scratch often feels more expensive than a trolley full of ready meals and processed foods. Money goes a lot further though when buying the ingredients and cooking them yourself as you’ll get much more value than you would buying a pre-prepared dinner. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what ingredients have gone into the food and your family will feel much healthier for this.

If you have had an expensive few weeks and have had an unexpected emergency such as the washing machine breaking down, food shopping may be difficult even when changing how you buy produce.

Changing shopping habits can take time but each visit can be a positive step to saving money, finding new and exciting food to eat and helping the family to stay fit and healthy.

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