However, these places are money making machines, quite literally, and they know just how to tempt you out of your hard earned money. So if you can't shop online and you have to go into the store, it's important to keep your wits about you and not be led astray by all the pretty signage and brands. So, I've compiled my top ten tips for keeping in mind when you are racing round the aisles chucking stuff in your trolley. Hopefully this list should help you save a bit of dough, cut down some food waste and make shopping in your local supermarket a little less stressful. One thing to note which I think is the most important is always to go with a list, otherwise you can come home with about 20 different things you didn't need ( believe me I have done it)! So, on with the tips...
1. When buying fresh produce like eggs, milk, vegetables etc. Have a root around and find the product with the longest use-by time, it's usually hiding at the back of the shelf. This means it will keep for longer at home and you will have less food waste. Also preventing you from having to return to the supermarket to replace the item if it goes out of date. Also, have a wee look online on how to store items before you use them to prolong their life after the trolley. Recently, I learnt that if you buy cut herbs or spring onions you can put them in a glass of water in the fridge and this helps to keep them longer.
2. Along the same lines, once you think your loaf of bread is starting to go stale, you can freeze it. Just toast the slices as and when you need it! If you have too much bread you can turn it into breadcrumbs and freeze or dry in oven to make croutons. You could even buy a loaf that is very reduced because it's near it's use buy date and pop it straight in the freezer when you get home.
3. When buying fruit such as berries out of season, buy them frozen. They are often much better value and taste better as they were probably frozen within hours of picking! They are great frozen with ice cream or in smoothies but also work great defrosted on porridge. It's also a good thing to know roughly when certain fruits and veg are in season as they are usually much cheaper during this time and just after.
4. Sometimes it is better value to buy things in bulk e.g. rice and dried pasta. These items will keep for a long time in the store cupboard and will always get used. Make sure when buying these items you look at the price per kg as this will let you know which is cheapest. This is only a good idea if it is something that you will definitely use.
5. If you find you always run out of milk, buy an extra pint or two and pop in the freezer. You can defrost it when you need it, all at once by submerging in warm water or a little at a time by leaving at room temperature.
6. Don't always go for big brands! Some supermarket own brands are really good and contain the same ingredients as the big brands but are much cheaper. Even the value products can be really good too, although this is all about trial and error until you find the ones that you like. I love the value frozen peas from Tesco, they taste so good, even better than the big brand leader.
7. When buying vegetables don't always go for fresh! Frozen and canned are also very good and very affordable, they are sometimes pre-chopped too which is so handy and a time saver. My favourite frozen veg are spinach, peas, chopped peppers, broccoli, broad beans, sweetcorn and cauliflower. Canned tomatoes, beans, lentils and chickpeas are also really good value. You can even get frozen avocados and smoothie mixes now, frozen is definitely the way to go!
8. Don't go for every buy one get one free offer! Only buy it if it's on your list anyway or it's something you will definitely use, like a bag of pasta or rice, not something that will go off very quickly or is too much temptation if you are trying to be healthy ( those biscuit and crisp offers i'm looking at you). The meat offers are usually pretty good value and you can freeze the meat for use at a later date.
9.Consider doing all your shopping with one supermarket, including toiletries, petrol etc and make use of the supermarkets loyalty scheme. You will get rewarded for being a regular shopper and may even save some money.
10. When going to a supermarket, consider the time of day! The best times are early in the morning or late at night! I find supermarket shopping pretty stressful and if there are lots of people about I don't feel like I can make the best decisions as I feel i'm being rushed! But if I go when it's quiet there is more time to think and consider these tips as I wheel around my trolley. Also, don't go when you are really hungry, really not a good idea people, trust me I've been there!
So there you have it! I hope you find these tips helpful and they make that weekly shop just a little bit easier! Do you have any tips you could share with me that I may not have thought of? I always like to hear other people's ideas? Also, it's nearly December now and that means only one thing, CHRISTMAS!! Our Christmas tree is going up next weekend and I am so excited, plus this week we have had the most beautiful winter weather in Northern Ireland, gorgeous sunsets and frosty mornings! I will leave you with a picture of the oh-so beautiful Northern Ireland...Thanks for reading, talk soon!
Porstewart Strand, Northern Ireland featuring my dog George
Porstewart Strand, Northern Ireland at Sunset
A Pretty winter sky