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How to shop smart & save

We share our must-know tips that will help you cut the cost of your supermarket shop without compromising on quality or quantity!
With the 'credit crunch' in full swing and rising food costs hitting our wallets it's a pretty stressful time to be having a baby. However, with your maternity leave fast approaching, the easiest place to start saving is in the supermarket. To help you save on your weekly shop we share our top tips for beating the supermarket tricks that get you spending - they're worth putting into practice and could save you £100's every year!

1. Never shop hungry

This is the oldest trick in the book but nonetheless it's still a must and will stop you running straight to the chocolate/ice cream/crisp aisle as soon as you get to the store. Having a healthy snack before you shop will mean that you're less driven by what you want to buy and more by what you should be buying, often meaning that you'll spend a lot less on junk food in favour of more nutritionally balanced ingredients that are better for you and baby.

2. Say no to your nose

Ever wondered why supermarkets always smell of fresh bread even though the bakery is by the back of the store? Well, rumour has it that to get our taste buds going they actually pump this smell forward to the front of the shop to create that same tummy rumbling 'must have carbs' effect that shopping hungry has. So, next time you do your weekly shop, enjoy the smell but avoid falling into their cunning trap!

3. Make a shopping list

Again, another oldie but it's a classic money saving tip for a good reason. When you plan your meals for the week in advance, check what you already have in your cupboards and write down the list of ingredients you need before you even leave the house you're onto a winner for two reasons. Firstly, you're far more likely to only buy the things you need (so you won't end up with 7 bags of pasta and 12 tins of tuna in the cupboard) and avoid expensive and unnecessary impulse buys that will see you throwing away good food that is past its best - this is very easily done with fruit and veg. Secondly, as supermarkets spread the staples of your weekly shop throughout the store so that you have to stroll along all the aisles past all of their special offers to make your way from the milk to the tinned tomatoes, by making a list you'll be able to keep focused and avoid coming out with more than you'd budgeted for.

4. Say no to short cut food

As with most things in life, the more that you are willing to do yourself, the less you'll pay and this stands true for the weekly food shop too. By avoiding convenience foods in favour of fresh, 'cook it yourself' ingredients you'll not only end up with a healthier diet but will also start to notice the difference in your food bill. However, this not only applies to microwave meals (that let's face it aren't great for us anyway), but also to the bags of lettuce, ready boiled rice, pre-chopped carrots and grated cheese that make life that bit easier but also add pounds to your shopping tab. The same can be said for bagged fruit and vegetables - pick out your own and you're not only guaranteed to get your hands on the best they have on offer but will also save yourself a few pennies too.

5. Look a shelf lower

This may sound like a strange tip but there is a method to our madness! Supermarkets place the brand products that they know you'll recognise and automatically put in your trolley at eye level, 'hiding' the cheaper own brand products on lower shelves. There's often very little difference between brand products and the supermarkets own offerings so try going down a brand and test which products cut the cost without compromising on quality. Downgrading from brand products to 'supermarket's own' products across the board (or even just on half your shopping) will make a huge difference to the cost of your shopping as you're not paying for the brand name or fancy packaging. You should apply the same logic to fruit and vegetables as 'value' items tend just to be those that didn't make the grade in terms of appearance but will be no less tasty.

6. Only BOGOF on non-perishables

Spur of the moment buys will help send your weekly food budget out the window so only take advantage of special offers on products that you would have bought anyway. This is particularly the case with non-perishables like shampoo and conditioner as well as freezer food that you'll know you'll eat. However, the branded 'special offer' products that often sit on the end of aisles should be eyed with caution as they may simply be encouraging you to spend more on something you don't need.

7. Stock up

It's often a lot cheaper to bulk buy non-perishable products such as tea bags and washing powder so going for a bigger box to keep in the cupboard can really help you to economise. Compare the cost per kilogram (kg) detailed on the price labels next time you're in store and see how much buying ahead can save you.

8. Shop outside the box

While we all have our 'favourite' supermarket that we return to week after week you may be able to save a bundle by changing where you shop. Try your farmers market or local veg box scheme for cheap seasonal produce that will help you cut down on food miles too and try out discount stores like Aldi and Lidl as while not all of their produce may be top notch a lot of it is very good and provides an inexpensive way to stock your cupboards. It's likely to be a case of trial and error but once you find high quality products that help you save you'll be laughing to the bank.

9. Go online

A great way to save time and money is to do your shopping online. You'll be able to save your favourites and avoid all of the supermarket tricks that you're tempted by in store. Just make sure that you choose your delivery time carefully so you don't end up paying out expensive charges that will undo all of your savvy shopping (mid week evenings tend to be the cheapest time for many supermarkets).

Do you have any money saving shopping tips or recipes that you could share with other members who are looking to save the pennies? Why not visit the AskBaby forums for a chat?

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My boyfriend's mum had her baby in October this year. It's great because her baby will have grown out of his stuff by the time my baby is due. Already a massive saving.
by kittyyyyy 23rd Dec 2010, 4:19pm
hi all, always except second hand clothes, toy etc it saves u so much money i have two kids already and third on way and im gettin all our kids old stuff back of friends once they have finished with them. then all we need to do is buy a few bits on top. also i buy one pack of nappies or wipes a week all in different sizes so i spread the cost. it really does help
by lisa86 2nd Sep 2009, 10:47am
you don't have to do it the expensive way but there are some necessities!! getting a travel system is a good way - about 250.00 for a pram, pushchair, car seat and carry cot. we're not gonna need a moses basket as it comes with a carry cot. and our baby rocker was 20.00. clothes wise we just followed the suggestions on the magazines only get waht you need not what you might need. you can get really cheap bibs, vests and sleepsuits from 2.00 for a pack of 3. save the 'pretty' stuff for others to buy you and believe me they will buy for you. keep an eye out in charity shops and sales too - don;t buy everything newborn/0-3 months as baby will grow pretty quick!!
by clairetimney 17th Feb 2009, 9:53am
hi i was just wondering how much it would cost to buy all your baby stuff ie.crib, clothes, prams etc...
by deldel 6th Feb 2009, 12:51pm