How to save money on your supermarket shopping bill including the best TikTok hacks for keeping grocery prices down
The internet is full of money-saving tips and tricks with millions of users sharing hacks for how far they can stretch their supermarket shopping budget.
From yellow sticker hunting to not shopping only at eye level, the world wide web is jammed with suggestions on how to make money go further when you're at the tills.
Experts at money website NerdWallet say viral video sharing app TikTok is now getting in on the act too, with clips tagged #Groceryshoppinghacks ramping up more than 2.5 billion views in recent months as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.
And while not all of its content is something new – reminding people to reach to the backs of shelves, for example, for the best 'use by' dates is advice most experienced shoppers will say has been around for decades – none the less the viral videos are at the very least teaching Generation Z how to become savvy shoppers.
But what are the best ways to save money on your weekly shop, according to TikTok? We take a look at the hints and tips NerdWallet says are gaining the most attention so how many of them do you already do?
1. Time your weekly shop
Timing your visit to the supermarket to find the optimum number of reduced items labelled with a yellow sticker is a grocery challenge preoccupying one small corner of the internet.
A great way to save money at the supermarket is to look out for the cheaper items now close to their sell by date and with supermarkets choosing to bring out their reductions at certain times of the day and week – the web is full of ideas on how to capitalise on this saving hack.
However, says NerdWallet, the tip comes with a word of caution. And while you might feel a sense of achievement at getting 12 croissants for an eighth of the price, yellow stickers can have a habit of tempting you into buying items unnecessarily so you should still only pick up the items you had planned on and not just because they've money off.
2. Bring your own bags or baskets
Often abbreviated to BYOB for the purposes of a hack on the internet – TikTok is full of tips on how to make sure you leave for the supermarket having remembered your own bags to avoid an extra charge at the till which so often catches many of us out.
Keeping them on a hook near the door, storing them near your car and house keys so it's impossible to leave without them, writing a list of reminders for the inside of the front door or shoe cabinet and starting your shopping list by writing 'BAGS' at the top are among the suggestions social media fans say they have successfully adopted.
And if that's not enough bag and packing chat for you – for shoppers taking the car when they shop there's a number of guides to using storage baskets in the boot too, which seasoned shoppers say makes packing and unpacking groceries both quicker and easier as you can unload your shopping straight from the trolley and carry the baskets indoors when you get home.
3. Choose loose over packaged
For those wanting to save money and save the planet – choosing loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged can make things cheaper and reduce plastic consumption.
The internet is full of videos highlighting the amount of plastic that goes into food packets but if you're opting to buy loose, not only will you reduce your impact on the environment but you're more likely to buy the quantity and size you need too.
4. Make the switch
Who doesn't love a food tasting test? The internet has become full of blindfolded product tests in recent years as users compare everything from American and British snacks, whether they can replicate the taste of a well known takeaway and whether a supermarket's own range of foods can compete with the premium brand alternatives.
And while those types of videos are great entertainment, it's true that shoppers can make considerable savings when willing to swap their favourite food for the value-range alternative.
5. Meal plan
The TikTok generation are, unsurprisingly, big fans of internet shopping and there are plenty of videos out there to show you how to plan your family's meals and then shop from that very specific list without deviating to the chocolate éclairs or that multibag of popcorn no one needs but which you might be more tempted to toss into the trolley if you're in the aisle.
Doing a food shop online also grants shoppers 24/7 availability say the money saving experts at NerdWallet, which in turn helps people take their time, browse deals and offers more effectively, avoid impulse buys or panic purchases and therefore they potentially save money in the long run. The hashtag #mealplanningonabudget is a popular one for those keen to get through the week with a supply of nutritious meals that won't break the bank.
6. Avoid baskets
It's a piece of advice that's been around for generations – and that's to avoid the shopping basket or trolley unless you really need it.
If you're just nipping in for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread don't collect a basket as you walk through the doors because it increases the temptation to fill it.
While there are some comical videos on TikTok of people snapped in supermarket aisles with their arms overflowing with items, the message is a salient one – the fewer items you're able to carry, the less you'll buy and the more money you save.
So once you've grabbed the items you need – by hand – make a beeline for the checkout and don't look back!
7. Get a loyalty/reward card
The internet is one of the most successful ways that many of us these days keep up with the latest offers, deals and exclusive promotions and most of these are open to people with a loyalty or reward card.
From the Tesco Clubcard to Sainsbury's Nectar there are many ways shoppers can collect points and turn them into prizes – or discounts against your shop – and TikTok, along with Facebook and Instagram are full of videos promoting the best ways to save.
These exclusive offers can save you money but it's important to remain savvy. The savings are only worthwhile if the promotions are giving you money-off items you would normally buy and it's important not to be tempted to spend money for the sake of a discount to get something you don't really need.
8. Pick items from the back of the shelf
Seasoned shoppers will know supermarket staff will most likely put the earliest dates to the front of the shelf when restocking, which often catches out those customers in a rush who will grab the closest item to them. But if you take your time and dig a little deeper you are more likely to find the longer best before and use by dates tucked away at the back.
The fresher the food, the longer it should last, and while it's a simple and somewhat obvious hack it should mean less food waste for you at home and lengthen the time between needing to replace crucial food items that will cost yet more money.
9. Don’t shop at eye level
Do supermarkets really place the premium items at eye level to encourage shoppers to grab them over cheaper alternatives? The internet is full of such theories and so the advice is to scan the shelves from top to bottom before settling on whatever it is you need.
A similar rule applies for fresh items and those on the longer life aisles, which can often provide a cheaper alternative that won't need using as quickly.
10. Download food waste apps
With 6.7 million tonnes of food wasted per year in the UK, we can all play a part in the far reaching problem of food waste.
And over the last couple of years the internet has started to develop food waste apps that can alert you to the best ways to use up items that may otherwise go in the bin.
Some of these apps involve rescuing food from cafés, restaurants, bakeries, shops and other businesses. You might buy per item or for a mystery bundle or bag, but the initiative allows customers to eat more cheaply and do their bit for the environment.
Too Good To Go is among the food waste apps currently connecting shoppers with a bargain on food that companies would otherwise be throwing away.