Money-saving tips to HALVE your grocery bill – avoid special offers, shop at 7pm & sign up to free food apps

GEMMA Bird has never been ‘rich’ and at times she has had to scrimp and save to put food on the table.

So the 39-year-old super-saver, who has never earned more than £25,000, knows every trick in the book when it comes to saving money on your supermarket shop.

This week, in the fifth of her six-part exclusive series with Fabulous, the mum-of-two reveals how YOU can save hundreds on your groceries with a few simple swaps.

Gemma, who lives in Billericay, Essex, with husband Adam and their kids, son Brody, eight, and two-year-old daughter Bronte, says: “As a mum I know how expensive food can be.

“But you really don’t have to spend a fortune to feed your family a decent meal – no matter how much you earn!

“I live and breathe deals, I shop around and I never spend more than £60 a week on my shop – I hope my tips will inspire all the Fabulous mums out there!”

DO A CUPBOARD INVENTORY

Before you even hit the supermarket, scour your cupboards, fridge and freezer and make a note of what you have and haven’t got.

Overbuying not only causes waste but it will also waste your money.

Look out for loose vegetables. The odd tomato and mushroom can easily be used to make a pasta sauce even if they’re looking a bit worse for wear.

Equally if you spot something that’s about to hit its sell by date make sure you incorporate that into your weekday dinners.

WRITE A LIST (and stick to it!)

This is my number one rule – write a thorough list of what you need and stick to it.

Don’t deviate, bunging the odd treat in your trolley is what will really add up in the long run. 

If the kids are begging me for a snack while I’m shopping I will let them have a bag of crisps each from the multipack I’m buying rather than forking out for individual treats.

When you’re writing your shopping list, plan every single meal out so that you know exactly what you need and you’re not overbuying.

Most importantly buy for the people you’re feeding – bulk buy if you’ve got a large family but don’t buy too much if you’ve only got one child because you’ll end up throwing things out and wasting food.

ALWAYS PACK A LUNCH

If you are heading back into the office now make sure you take a packed lunch.

A loaf of bread could cost you as little as 50p and a jar of peanut butter costs a £1 meaning a week of sandwiches will cost you just £1.50, less than a takeaway coffee.

Pad out a packed lunch with a multipack of crisps and an apple and you will quickly see your pennies pile up, rather than buying snacks on the go.

When you hit the supermarket, avoid heading straight for the end of the aisle deals.

FREEZE DON’T THROW

Make use of every inch of your freezer – you’d be amazed at how many things you can freeze.

Herbs looking a bit sad? Stick them in the freezer. Milk nearing its sell-by date? That can go in too. 

Even cheese can be frozen! I always cut a new block in half and grate it and pop it in a sandwich bag to be used at a later date.

Almost anything can go in the freezer, just make sure you consume it within three months.

AVOID SPECIAL ‘OFFERS’

When you hit the supermarket, avoid heading straight for the end of the aisle deals.

While it might look like you’re getting an amazing price but you could get the exact same product for cheaper if you venture down the aisle.

Look at the cost per weight, for example how much you’re paying per sheet of toilet paper or the price per gram, (the information will be provided on the price sticker by the supermarket) and that way you can work out what really works out as the cheapest option.

Take time when you’re shopping to explore those prices – just by spending an extra 20 minute in store you could save a fortune.

THE LATER THE BETTER

As tempting as it might be to save your shop for a Saturday morning, the best time to go is around 7pm at night.

That’s when you’ll find most supermarkets will put out yellow sticker deals on products that haven’t sold that day.

You can bag yourself some really amazing bargains and it’s ideal for picking up a quick dinner especially if you’re living on your own.

MAKE USE OF FOOD SAVING APPS

The app Too Good To Go is great if you’re struggling with food. 

You can commit to paying £2 for a ‘Magic Bag’ at cafes like Greggs or Costa and come the end of the day you’ll receive a bag full of goodies they haven’t been able to sell.

Olio is another excellent app where you can bag completely free food if you’re struggling.

Olio connects you with neighbours who have surplus food, in an attempt to cut down on food waste while bagging you a free meal.

CUT BACK ON JUNK 

It’s very easy to become tempted by sweet treats and sugary snacks in the supermarket but you will see your bill soar.

If you are hankering for a treat opt for own-brand alternatives.

Rather than buying individual chocolate bars, opt for a packet of chocolate digestives for 70p as a dessert or simply make up a packet of angel delight rather than splashing out on a fancy trifle.

BULK OUT WITH VEG

Meat and fish is very expensive so if I am on a tight budget I will try to substitute those where possible. 

For example if you’re cooking a bolognese try adding more blended carrots in there, you can pad it out and make it last for two nights.

It is also the perfect way of adding extra veg to your kids’ diet.

BULK COOK TO SAVE TIME & MONEY

I always recommend bulk cooking meals – set aside a little time at the weekend to do it and you will reap the rewards. 

I love Fabulous’ Batch Lady – she has so many good ideas and great tips for cooking in bulk, I use her recipes all the time.

Cooking in batch cuts down on food waste and ensures you use every last bit of food in your fridge.

By doing so you are also saving money on your energy bills, and then you can freeze meals without anything going to waste.

There are always a few essential items on my shopping list to make sure I can make a meal at a moment’s notice.

CHEAT FANCY INGREDIENTS

Looking at a recipe can be quite daunting if it is calling for a lot of fresh ingredients – but you don’t need to spend a fortune.

Frozen veg has all the nutrients of the fresh stuff and they’re are so much cheaper than fresh – plus you can keep them for much longer and prevent waste.

Equally Morrisons does a Wonky Veg box that will set you back £3 and you get so much for your money just because your produce doesn’t look perfect.

AND DITCH FANCY RECIPES

Don’t feel pressure to cook a storm in the kitchen – if you’re struggling there are plenty of ways to make a tasty meal for little money.

One of my staple dishes is to cook some pasta before stirring in a 99p packet of cream cheese to make a sauce.

You can bulk it out and add flavour with an own-brand stock cube and some frozen spinach or broccoli.

STOCK UP ON STAPLES

There are always a few essential items on my shopping list to make sure I can make a meal at a moment’s notice.

You’ll always find pasta in my cupboards as well as a few jarred sauces so I can whip up a meal when I need to.

I like to have bananas and eggs on hand too – you can give your kids a piece of fruit or a boiled egg as a snack for next to no money and know they are getting some good substantial protein.

I always have crumpets in the house. They’re so much cheaper than buying cereal for the kids and you can just pop them in the freezer.

SIGN UP TO LOYALTY SCHEMES

They may seem a pain to set up but it is so worth getting a loyalty card at a supermarket.

Tesco offers special Clubcard prices across a range of products in store that aren’t given to all customers.

Equally I love the Lidl app – simply by having the app customers are given money off extra products in-store as well as coupons and rewards. 

Follow Gemma Bird @MoneyMumOfficial

Previously, Gemma revealed how you can look a million bucks on a budget.

And she revealed how she got her home looking like a boutique hotel without spending a fortune.

Plus Gemma shared her tips for becoming the ultimate money-saving mum.

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