How To: Save Money on your Supermarket Shop

supermarket shopMaking the leap to University means many students leaving home and leaving the comfort of home-made meals and food shopping done by our lovely parents. Whilst I chose to stay at home during my studies, here’s my top tips (with a little help from my dad) on how to save money on your food shop.

  1. Make a weekly meal plan

We usually plan our meals from Monday to Friday as these are the days when everyone in the house is busy with work/university. Changes can be made fairly easily to our lists as we try and stick to “base” ingredients such as mince allowing a variety of meals. I find this really effective as it allows us to ensure we use up everything in our stocks.

  1. Always take a shopping list

Before going food shopping, check the cupboards, fridge and freezer to effectively plan what you actually need to buy and make note of this. My dad never enters a supermarket to do the big food shop without a list in hand and will try and stick to this unless he sees the odd bargain reduction.

  1. Don’t shop hungry

Yes, I know it sounds like a bit of an odd one. However, entering a shop full of every possible food you could crave whilst hungry is a recipe for disaster which will probably overrule both of the above tips.

  1. Know your store reduction times

As I have a job in a supermarket part time, I’ve actively done and watched the reductions occur in store and you really can get some fantastic items with nearly 85% off. Many of these items, bread for example, can be bought and frozen as it is simply reduced due to its “display until” or “best before” date and NOT the “use by” date. Food can still be frozen to extend the “use by date” however which this article explains.

  1. Ignore the branding

Skip the branded products and try and lower cost own brand alternatives. I guarantee if the labels were covered on a branded tin of beans and a supermarket own brand, it would be almost impossible to tell the difference.

  1. Stick with basic ingredients

Instead of buying pre-made meals, buy the ingredients and make them yourself. This is something that we never used to do in our household but slowly but surely we’ve began making meals from scratch and have noticed this has saved us money. My dad often makes a larger batch at the weekend and then freezes the meals for throughout the week. If you’re struggling for some inspiration, my friend Josephine runs a fantastic food blog which is sure to get your creative juices flowing.

7. Start a spice collection

Start buying a few pots of spices from your local supermarket which can be added to basic meals to completely change the taste. Steer clear of the packet spices and buy the tubs instead as this is cheaper in the long run and they last for ages if stored correctly. Our favourites are mixed herbs, chilli flakes and paprika.

How do you save money on your weekly shop?

Best Of: Discount Codes 16/03/15

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There’s a lot of fantastic discount codes floating around the internet this week, so I decided to compile my pick of the best discounts with all the required codes and links needed to make some great savings. What better way to cheer yourself up on a gloomy Monday than by some (sort of) guilt free shopping?

Health & Beauty

Fashion

  • 20% off Topman via Unidays/Student Beans/NUS
  • 10% off Adidas via StudentBeans
  • 10% off full priced items at Matalan using code 63YT28UP75

Food & Drink

  • 35% off when you spent £35 at Dominos using code MARCHVOU
  • Free cheeseburger, hamburger or original McFlurry when you purchase an Extra Value or Deli Meal at Mcdonalds using student card instore
  • 25% off Pizza Express all day Monday-Thursday, sign up via the website 

Entertainment

This allows you to gain a 12 month subscription to the service for only £4.99 a month. Spotify Premium is a fantastic service as you can download songs to your phone or music device for free and listen to them with or without an internet connection.

  • Up to 15% off Apple using UniDays

I’ve already signed up to the Spotify offer and made a Feel Unique order.

Have you made any purchases with a discount code this week?

How To: Search eBay Effectively

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eBay is one of my favourite websites for finding well priced items and the occasional bargain. If the search function is used correctly, the possibilities are endless.

Benefit from sellers mistakes

Many sellers will list items in a rush or without proof reading their post, causing them to misspell vital words in their titles. A fantastic website to use for this is FatFingers, which allows you to enter the term you are looking for and it will then list all the common misspellings.

If you’re searching for a clothing item or a quantity of a specific item, use both the numerical and the written term for the number. For example, “dress size 10” is much more common than “dress size ten” however many sellers do still use the later.

Time your watched items effectively

eBay is most active on a Sunday evening, and the weekends are also a busy period for listings to end. If a listing ends during the day when many people are at work, or during a big event such as the X Factor final you will have less competition for bids and therefore more chance of winning your desired item.

The eBay app which can be downloaded is great as it sends reminders to your device before the listing ends, meaning you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to place your bid.

Use the sort by function

Within the search facilities, use the drop down function to change the format of the search results. The most popular function is “price & p&p lowest” which will then bring up the lowest priced items in your search terms. This function can also be used to find the items “ending soonest” which is a fantastic opportunity to buy a last minute bargain.

Lastly, the Advanced Search facility allows buyers to really narrow down their search. If you are looking for a large item which would require collection, such as a coffee table, the advanced search allows you to input your postcode and the distance you are willing to travel. It’s a really handy tool which I recommend playing around with to suit your own search requirements.

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What are your eBay search tips?

How To: Find Student Discount Codes

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Online shopping can be a dangerous game. You’re bored, find yourself browsing Topshop’s website and before you know it you’ve placed an order for £100 worth of clothes. We’ve all been there. However, being a student has more perks than just the university degree (yes, unbelievable I know), and allows us to have some amazing discounts to aid our weeping bank balances. There are various websites I use to source these codes.

Unidays

You simply register with Unidays with your University details and it then allows you to view an array of different discount codes. The website has separate sections for online and in store discounts so gives the best of both worlds.

You can visit the site here.

Student Beans

Again, you have to register with your University details to gain access to the site. Student Beans is aimed specifically at students and is separated into various sections from tech and mobile to home and utilities so covers all the bases regardless of what you’re shopping for. They also have a magazine section full of quirky articles (think BuzzFeed style) which I frequently find myself reading instead of actually shopping, so that’s got to be a bonus!

You can visit the site here.

Money Saving Expert

Whilst not solely featuring student discounts, Money Saving Expert is a fantastic website filled with discount codes and general money saving tips. Founder and editor Martin Lewis is a fellow journalist with a thirst for money saving tips and covers everything from fashion and beauty to cutting your electricity bills. This website is fantastic for the whole family to use and is one that my dad personally loves due to the straight forward layout and helpful posts.

You can check out Martin’s tips here.

What’s your favourite student discount website?

The £3.99 Hugo Boss Orange Dupe

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Fragrance is a definite weakness of mine; however some higher end perfumes can take a significant chunk out of my bank balance. I’d heard from a relative that Lidl had created a few of their own fragrances, one of which was being hailed as a dupe for one my most worn perfumes Hugo Boss Orange. At only £3.99 for a 50ml eau de parfum, I decided to give it a whirl.

The exterior packaging already gives a nod to Boss Orange due to the classic white and orange design. The bottle itself is very minimalist with a clear glass bottle and sleek metal lid. Whilst it wouldn’t make a statement sitting on your dressing table, the sturdiness of the bottle itself makes it ideal for your handbag.

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Left: Suddenly Diamonds // Right: Hugo Boss Orange

The scent has top notes of orange blossom and is quite zingy and strong upon first application, however does wear down to its softer base notes of sandalwood and vanilla. The fragrance lasted around 5 hours on my skin which is unheard of from a budget fragrance (although, of course, fragrance does wear differently on everyone) and caused no irritation. It’s a very fresh and generally easy to wear scent. One friend wouldn’t even believe me when I said it was from Lidl!

In comparison to Hugo Boss Orange, I must say that it really is hard to tell the difference as far as fragrance goes. Boss Orange does last slightly longer on the skin, which is to be expected, but for the price comparison the odd touch up is acceptable. Whilst the Lidl offering costs a mere £3.99, a 50ml bottle of Boss Orange would cost around £44.50, meaning a total saving of £40.51!

Hugo Boss Orange can be purchased here // “Suddenly Diamonds” can be purchased from your local Lidl supermarket.

Would you wear a £3.99 fragrance?

Beating the stigma of charity shops

Shopping in a charity shop is something that many people feel uncomfortable with, mainly due to the nature of the items being “second hand”. In 2015, the stigma is still very much alive however there are various reason why I believe these people should be converted.

  1. Charity

Possibly the most obvious reason is that these shops are designed to give money back to a charitable cause, therefore you’re supporting the charity with any purchases made.

  1. Individuality

When purchasing an item from a charity shop, you will rarely find someone else with it. Whether it be a clothing item, a home furnishing or indeed entertainment item, you will be able to stand out from the crowd.  And, unless you disclaim it, no-one need ever know it wasn’t purchased straight from the original manufacturer.

  1. Price

Whilst there has been a rise in some charity shops prices over the last few years, the price of most things is very reasonable and less than buying brand new. Vintage stores will be more expensive, therefore I would recommend these more for avid collectors.

  1. Local

My local charity shop actually supports the community, such as giving money for school productions from the funds raised in their store. This encourages people to want to donate and purchase as they can see where and how the money is being spent.

  1. The Unexpected

Charity shops are often full of many little hidden gems that you otherwise would not have thought to purchase. I largely buy books from my local store, which never cost me more than £1 and find myself engrossed in something I would not even have approached in a large bookstore. Likewise, I know relatives who have purchased ornaments and little details for the home.

  1. Eco Friendly

Buying items from a charity shop is ultimately like recycling items, therefore saving them from ending up on a landfill site.

If you can overcome the idea of using second hand items, and focus on the positives of the stores, charity shops are ultimately fantastic for your budget. I recommend having a look through your local store, you never know what you could find!

Would you shop in a charity shop?