Friday, 26 April 2013

Frugal Friday...

Notice the unusual opening hours...
   The evil bods at that Supermarket beginning with the letter before U in the alphabet are at it again - sending me vouchers, that is! I invariably find that when I go easy on my shopping there for a few weeks - buying just the very bare basics that we need - they pop a few vouchers in the post, or I get a few more "till spits" than normal, and this time that coincided with their "Spend £20 and get a £5 voucher off your next £40 shop" promotion, so I decided that I may as well make the most of it to stock up on odds and ends that we will use anyway. For these sort of shopping trips I usually make a "2 part list" - so the stuff that we definitely want (in this case the usual weekly basics - Milk, Fruit, veg, then a complete re-stock of our frozen veg, (the last of the previous lot was eaten the week before) Cheese, butter and some more cold meats etc for lunches) plus a range of things that can be used to bring the value of the shop up to the voucher threshold - in this case of course £40. I then pick and choose from those items depending on which are on offer, and how far through our existing stash we are.

Most special offers happen on a recurring cycle, the trick to getting the most for your money is to know how often they recur - so 2 Fairy Liquid washing up liquid bottles for £2 for example, which is one of the offers I spotted when I shopped, I ignored because I know it comes along quite often. Finding "Ham ends" - the scraps from the ham-on-the-bone on the deli counter, for 40p per 100g, however, happens less often, so I bought a bag full! Some things I pretty much only buy on offer - Cheddar cheese for example, costs £5 for two big blocks, and if it's not at that price, I'll either go somewhere else where it is, or I'll go without.

This weekend I will be cheering these chaps on in their Cup Final...!
We shop to "Target prices" - a 4 pint container of milk is £1, crisps are 10p per packet, Fairy Liquid and cheese are, as you now know, £1 (per 500ml) and £2.50 per item respectively, and there are plenty of others too. Some people keep a notebook with these written in, I'd forget to update that though my list is far less detailed than many, and mainly lives in my head. Most of what we buy though we try to get as close to these target prices as possible Some things seem to be consistently going up in price - Apples are a good example of this and at the moment it certainly pays to compare pre-packed and loose prices. Crisps, oddly enough, don't seem to have increased that much over the last 10 years or so - although now we rarely buy in the supermarket, preferring to keep an eye out for the bargains in our local B&M, or on the stalls at the market. Does make you wonder when there is so much talk about healthy eating, and encouraging people to eat the "right" sort of foods, how come you can get three packets of crisps for the price of one apple!

When I'm shopping to a threshold like this, I keep a tally of the cost on my iPhone calculator as I'm going round the store, making sure I remember to add absolutely everything. I've done it in my head before now, but the calculator is easier and helps to make sure that you're not caught out by being a few pennies under the threshold at the till. It doesn't always work out though - this time round when everything had gone through it came to just under that precious £40 target, and that's when another nifty trick comes in - always have in your mind an "emergency top up item" - it needs to be something you will definitely use, and be within a 10 second dash of your chosencheckout - in my case this week it was an extra bag of the soda crystals I had already bought one pack of, costing £1.

I'm looking forward to these making their annual appearance...
One thing that has really jumped out at me recently is the tendency for products to "shrink" whilst staying at the same price. In my store cupboard is a big bottle of Mild Green Liquid Fairies bought just a few months ago - containing 1250ml of washing up juice. The "identical" bottle now contains 870ml - an absolutely huge drop! This is far from the only shrinkage too - you have to be ever more wary, I've found it's always worth keeping an eye out for old and new of the same product alongside one another on the shelf, too. Always compare various sizes of product and don't just assume that the larger size will be better value!


ps - before people start shouting, I HAVE tried Ecover and similar brands of washing up liquid, but our water is simply too hard to make them economical!

(Oh yes, random photos again....)


Marksgran said...

Shopping should be a subject at university now! You need a degree to do it these days lol. We're on the last week before our pensions are paid so we're living on a fiver for this week. Thankfully my freezer is full of meals made earlier in the month so only milk and fruit will need to be bought but I like your idea of shopping to price, I may try that once I have money again!!

Scarlet said...

I have a flinch point on groceries too, and the jars of Smart Price peanut butter at Asda had shrunk alarmingly when I last bought them! It's the only one that KL likes , and I doubt I could get it any cheaper, but it really annoys me. And the mixed beans in tomato sauce that J really likes had gone up by 18p per tin - a hike of 41%!!

Robyn said...

Marksgran - I was very good in Tesco on Friday - went in, went JUST round the "fresh stuff" and once I'd got the milk, fruit & veg we needed, plus a couple of bits of cheese off the reduced, I went straight to the checkout and that was that! Good luck with your fiver!
Scarlet - it used to be that the "Route 66" branded peanut butter in Lidl was the best value you could get, but last time I looked those had escalated alarmingly in price too - I've bought Tesco value the last few times. You do just have to check absolutely everything now - funny how the manufacturers are quick to put "bigger pack - better value" on when they increase the size (and price) but never advertise changes the other way around!