How to beat the supermarkets

For many of us, the most convenient way to shop is under one supermarket roof. But every time we go we overspend by £30, says YouGov research. Lack of preparation combined with sneaky supermarket tactics mean we go wild in the aisles. So use our supermarket-beating tips to save £££s at the checkout!

Before you set off...

  • Go surfing instead. Supermarkets are keen to get you shopping online and new customers can get discounts such as £10 off a £50 shop, so check for savings. is useful for checking cheapest prices in different stores.
  • Audit your cupboards. Check what you have so you don’t buy more. Then write a shopping list – and stick to it!
  • Be freezer savvy. If you’ve got things in the fridge about to expire, use them up or pop in the freezer for later. Milk, cream cheese and juices all freeze well.

When you get there...

  • Downsize your trolley. It’s easy to think you’ve not bought much when you use a large trolley, so opt for a small one instead.
  • Use your loaf. If you pop in for bread, don’t pick up a basket or you’ll fill it!
  • Go at the right time. Shopping later in the day means many items will be reduced.
  • Use your coupons! Don’t leave home without your money-off vouchers. Keep them in your purse so they don’t get forgotten about.

Resist temptation...

  • Flowers, fresh fruit and the salad bar are there to gratify your senses. Wait until the end of your shop to see if you still want them.
  • Frozen food cabinets are positioned to block your path to the checkout. Ready meals are convenient, but expensive!
  • Avoid higher-priced items at eye level – scan shelves to spot cheaper deals. Be offer-savvy. Make sure a deal will save you money – if something’s buy-one- get-one-half-price, will you just end up throwing the second product away?

Be offer-savvy...

  • A good deal? Make sure a deal will save you money - if something's buy-one-get-one-half-price, will you just end up throwing the second product away?
  • Stock up on basics. If there’s an offer on items you use frequently that won’t perish, such as jam, crisps, rice and toiletries, buy them up. Check out the supermarket’s own-brand ranges, too. Use discount food websites such as for pasta and cereals.
  • Read shelf tickets. Look at the weight of items and compare this with price. Calculate whether it’s cheaper to buy fresh produce loose or packaged. With multi-buy purchases, it can be cheaper to buy one big product rather than two smaller ones in an offer. Get the calculator out if you’re unsure!

At the checkout...

  • Avoid impulse buys. Queuing is boring but don’t look at the checkout temptations. They are treats you don’t need with a high mark-up!
  • Watch the register. Check what name an item is scanned as. If the cashier mixes up oranges for grapefruits you’re going to pay a lot more per pound than you need to.
  • Check your receipt. Ensure nothing is scanned twice or is marked at the wrong price. Check multi-buy purchases are deducted and query anything in store.

Check out the discounters...

While Tesco and Morrisons close stores, budget rivals Aldi and Lidl are flourishing. “It’s no secret - they’re cheap!” says Phil Dorrell of Retail Remedy. “An average weekly shop at Aldi costs £1.87 less than at Asda, the UK’s budget store. They keep costs down by selling own-label products and limiting ranges. Through effective marketing, Aldi and Lidl are now regarded as places of quality, keenly-priced produce and have gained customers’ trust.”

  • Shop for less. When we compared an average basket of shopping from all the supermarkets Lidl’s was cheapest at £29.49, then Aldi was next cheapest at £30.58, while Waitrose was the most pricey at £44.93.