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Food inflation: 12 top tips to fight it

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UK inflation has hit a 40-year high and nowhere is it more acutely felt than on our grocery shop. Food inflation is pretty staggering and whilst there’s nothing we can do about rising prices, we can shop a bit smarter to keep costs lower.

Ways to counteract food inflation

By changing habits a little, being a bit more adaptable/flexible and knowing some of the pitfalls there are a number of simple ways to regularly save money. So here, in no particular order are 12 tips.

Don’t pay for convenience

Carrot batons, celery sticks, pre-grated cheese, prepared fruit, ready diced meat… they’re all more convenient, but this comes at a hefty price.

For example, 350g of pre-cut celery sticks are £1.10 compared with 70p for 470g (over 350g when cleaned); loose carrots at Sainsbury’s are 80p per kg versus its carrot batons, which are a whopping £2.50 per kg (and they’re pretty flavourless)!

Aldi’s Ashfields British Chicken Breast Fillets 1kg are £5.99 per kilo, the exact same brand’s diced version is £7.48 per kilo.

Ready-meals are a lot more expensive than making the dish yourself. I spotted an M&S Carbonara (for one), which was a staggering £4.75! That’s more than it costs me to make a Carbonara for five of us. Recipe here.

Shop around (literally)

Food inflation

Loyalty doesn’t always pay so mix up your shops. Chopping and changing where you do your supermarket shop often results in the ‘neglected’ supermarket sending you money off vouchers to entice you back.

If you’re trying to save, it’s tempting to only visit the budget supermarkets. However, if you shop at a variety you can access lots more deals, receive far more money off coupons and can also gauge which ones have the best prices on particular products. Also, many of the traditionally more expensive supermarkets now price match the likes of Aldi.

Check your marketing emails

The more supermarkets you’re signed up with, the more marketing emails tailored to your buying habits you’ll receive. I also get inbox notifications each week from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencers about my new vouchers, which are linked to my loyalty card.

I recently received a promotional code straight into my inbox for £10 off my first three shops on Amazon’s same day delivery service of Morrisons groceries. The minimum spend is just £40. You can receive the same by visiting here.

Freezer fodder

Food inflation

If you see a good multi-buy or just a good deal for something that can be frozen, stock up whilst it’s on offer. Yellow stickered items can be so cheap, but that’s often because they have to be eaten that day. If however, they’re freezable you’re onto a winner.

Fill up on frozen veg. It’s a common misconception that frozen veg is far inferior to fresh. In the case of something like peas, they are frozen within a couple of hours of being picked so very few nutrients are lost. The frozen varieties of things like sweetcorn, broccoli and peas are not only cheaper but also save on waste.

Switching brands and making substitutions

Food inflation

Chopped tomatoes is a classic example of where a brand substitution makes a huge difference; just look at the price per 1kg variations above! There’ll probably be differences in quality, but for making a basic tomato sauce/base of a casserole you don’t need the finest. The same applies to tinned beans and lentils.

My kids go bonkers with cheese on their pasta so I often substitute Parmesan for Grana Padana; the former is £15.50 per kg and the latter £10.23 per kg at Tesco. They’re both Italian hard cheeses made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and for the purposes of grating they can’t tell the difference.

Similarly, I was making a quiche that called for Gruyere cheese. It was an eye-watering £26.30 a kg so I opted for Swiss Fior Delle Alpi instead for £21.77 a kg. Again no one noticed.

Also, check out Tesco’s Perfectly Imperfect range, which tackles both food inflation and food waste.

Head to the baking and world food aisles

For nuts and dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas and berries, head to the baking aisle instead of the ‘snacking’ aisle. Often in bigger pack sizes and minus the recognisable branding, they are usually a lot cheaper.

Likewise hit the ‘world foods’ aisle to pick up your herbs, spices, sauces, rice and more on the cheap.



Swap to less popular/cheaper cuts of meat

I now use turkey thigh mince as opposed to breast mince to make turkey burgers. It’s much cheaper and actually more flavoursome. Check out the recipe here.

The same goes for beef/lamb mince that has more fat (5% versus 10/15%). It takes seconds to drain excess fat when you’re cooking and the saving is significant.

Pork shoulder steaks are really cheap. They require a lot of cooking time to become tender, but its completely worth it. I use them for a pork, cannellini and chorizo stew.

Buy seasonal

Obviously, you can’t do this for everything, but buying fruit and veg that’s in season is a major way to fight food inflation. Products also taste so much better if they’re in season and haven’t had to be picked early so they can be flown 1000s of miles; you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint.

Of course you can always visit a pick your own farm too.

Yellow stickers

Different supermarkets reduce the price of items (aka yellow stickers) at different points in the day. Find out what that time is and then go grab yourself some bargains. I follow a great Facebook group called Feed Your Family on a Budget – much kudos to member Tori Drinkwater who bagged everything in the picture above for an amazing £10.90.

Buy in bigger sizes

Food inflation

For your non-perishables, buy in bigger sizes/larger numbers as it works out substantially cheaper. For example, we buy three litres of olive oil and then decant into a Kilner bottle.

Check the deal is as good as it sounds

Watch out on 3-for-2 offers or buy two for x amount deals. Whilst some are great, others are simply a way for supermarkets to get rid of surplus stock. Check how the unit price or price per 100g/100ml compares to similar items and evaluate how good the deal actually is.

Then sometimes you just need to step away from the offer. There was a two for £3 on lemons, which I was about to take up. Did I really need 12 lemons? The answer was no. An offer is only good if you actually need the product!

Visit supermarket websites for ideas to tackle food inflation

Sainsbury’s has brought back its Feed Your Family for a Fiver . They provide the recipes; the prices for the ingredients required are valid for three weeks.

Aldi also has meal suggestions in its Feed the Family for £5 section: https://www.aldi.co.uk/c/recipes/feed-the-family-for-a-fiver-recipes

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Asda has announced its Kids Eat for £1 deal which will run throughout the summer holidays (25th July – 4th September). Children aged 16 and under will be able to get a hot or cold meal for £1 in Asda cafes (no minimum adult spend required).

I would love to hear your top tips, so please share in the comments below.



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About Author

I’m Fran: wife, mother-of-three and freelance publicist. My love for communicating and writing mirrors my passion for trying to be the best mum I can be. I love good food & wine, Italian culture and football and have a keen interest in personal finance. I also blog over on Epsom & Ewell Families and Habyts, and write sporadically for a number of other sites.

4 Comments

  1. Whilst cooking a dish that can be frozen, consider ‘doubling up’ and freezing the second portion for another day. This saves precious fuel as you only need to re-heat (thoroughly) the second portion. Also saves you time on a day when it is at a premium. These are called ‘Blue Peter’ dinners in our house – i.e. one I prepared earlier!!!

    • Great idea. I often do this from a time-saving perspective but hadn’t thought about it from a fuel conservation one.

      I just need to get better at labelling stuff for the freezer; we have had a few surprises before!

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