Friday 23 February 2018

Keep the pennies in check with these useful shopping tips

Are you prepared before you go food shopping? Really?

happy young housewife with shopping bag full of vegetables
happy young housewife with shopping bag full of vegetables

Caítriona Redmond

Are you prepared before you go shopping? Really? Here’s some shopping kit that you may already be using and others that you may not.

Storage Clips

These little fiddly plastic clips are worth far more than you pay for them. You can expect to pay around €2 for a packet of 20 of varying sizes. From holding freezer bags of sweetcorn or peas closed in the freezer, to keeping bags of sugar tightly closed or cereal etc, storage clips are a fantastic investment. By using them on every open packet you have, you’ll cut down on waste from items spilling out and you’ll also save on food because it will last longer. If you are very stuck and have none in the house a hairgrip will do the job either.

Resealable Jars/Containers

I like to use heavy “kilner” style jars because they wash well and are great for storing jams, chutneys and preserves when they’re not holding dried goods. It’s expensive to buy a good number of these at once. They are relatively inexpensive when bought in IKEA but you will also find them cheap enough in your local hardware or homeware store. To cut down on costs buy a packet of storage clips to start and then buy a jar once a week until you have the required number.

Sandwich/Freezer Bags

Not just for sandwiches, freezer bags are always on my shopping list. I bulk buy meat and separate it into meal sized portions when I get home, then package them into the bags before putting into the freezer.

Great for popping spare egg whites into before lashing into the freezer (perfect for macarons), a thick freezer bag can double up as a disposable piping bag when you’re stuck. Sandwich bags also serve as perfect glove covers when it snows, preventing kids hands from getting wet when making snowballs. Just remember to keep a stash of elastic bands on standby to stop them slipping off.

Shopping bags

Bring your own bags when shopping. If you get caught short and need to buy a roll of bags in the shop, chances are you’re going to have split shopping bags by the time you get home. That’s at a minimum, you run the risk of broken/damaged shopping as well. I use a stash of cotton, washable bags that I’ve accumulated over a couple of years along with strong laminated woven ones as well.


Yes, yes I know you have to have money to go shopping!

Seriously though do you bring cash?

With the advent of Laser/Visa Debit/Credit Cards, it has become more easy to pay with a card when you reach the till. This also means that it’s far easier to pay for a bigger bill than you intended. It’s hard to stick to a budget when you don’t have a defined amount of money before you start. The easiest way to deal with this is to take out your cash budget before you go shopping. It sharpens the mind and is a constant reminder that you only have that amount to work with.

Shopping List

This might seem incredibly obvious but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who go to the shops with a list in their heads. This makes you vulnerable to impulse buys, not coming home with everything you need and wasting your time wandering around the shops looking for x, y & z.

Write your list down before you go. If you’re too embarrassed to carry your shopping list around scrawled on the back of a used envelope (who me?) then save your list to the notes in your phone instead.

Extra Shopping Tips:

Where possible, only one person should go shopping. Extra people put extra stuff in trolleys. Himself calls them the “sneaky, sneakies”, I call them budget busters.

If you do have to bring kids, bring along stuff that will distract smallies in the trolley like a favourite toy. For older kids challenge them to work out prices per 100g etc as they go around which should distract them from the goodies.

If you’re on a really tight budget, use a calculator on your phone as you go around the store to tot up your expenditure. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises by the time you checkout.

Stuck for time? Use internet shopping to shop within your budget and deliver to your house. The only thing is you will miss out on instore deals and discounts like yellow sticker items.

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