Cost of living crisis: 10 savvy ways to save money at the supermarket- inspired by TikTok

From yellow sticker hunting to picking items from the back of the shelf

As the cost of living crisis rages on, many of us are looking for ways to make our money go further at the supermarket tills.

The boss of Aldi recently claimed the budget retailer gained 1.5 million additional customers in 12 weeks, with switching to discount stores just one of the hacks customers are adopting to save cash.

A woman holds a shopping basket of groceries. Last week, the UK Office for National Statistics reported an 6% average increase of food and drink prices year on year, but some staples, such as milk and pasta, had risen by more than 10%.

To coincide with this, experts at NerdWallet have delved into #Groceryshoppinghacks videos on TikTok to reveal some of the savviest ways consumers can scrimp on their supermarket bills.

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    From yellow sticker hunting to bringing your own bags, the hashtag #Groceryshoppinghacks has over 2.5 billion views. Here’s a round-up of the best hacks:

    Time your weekly shop to find most the yellow sticker items 

    A great way to save money at the supermarket is to look out for the yellow reduction stickers on items that are close to their sell-by date. Supermarkets will often do their reductions at a certain time of day, so it could be useful to find out what time this occurs in your preferred shop.

    However, it is important to not let yellow reduction stickers tempt you into buying items unnecessarily. Shoppers should still only buy the item if they had planned on purchasing it as part of their shop - not just because it has money off it. Otherwise, this could lead to more waste and spending more on items overall as you’ve purchased items you do not need.

    Supermarkets are more likely to put out reduced items bearing yellow stickers at certain times.

    BYOB (bring your own bag)

    It can be easy to forget your bags when you head to the supermarket meaning an extra charge at the till, so savvy TikTokkers have created a system to ensure they always have a bag with them.

    This could include always keeping spares in your car, keeping them by the front door or near your keys, placing a reminder on the door or writing ‘bags’ on top of your shopping list.

    If you’re taking your car with you when you shop, another clever tip is to keep storage baskets in the boot. This will make packing and unpacking groceries a lot quicker as you can unload your shopping straight from the trolley. Plus, you’ll have fewer trips to and from the car when you get home.

    A person leaves with their goods in reusable plastic carrier bags after shopping.

    Choose loose over packaged

    Purchasing loose fruit and vegetables instead of pre-packed can not only save you money, it can also reduce plastic consumption.

    You might also not need the quantity of fruit and vegetables that are in the packets. Therefore, by opting for loose produce, you only buy the quantity, size and quality you actually want.

    When opting for loose produce, you only buy the quantity, size and quality you actually want.

    Make the switch

    Another TikTok hack could help households save up to a third on their weekly food shop - switching from premium or branded products to supermarket own or value products.

    Usually, the main difference between premium/branded items and supermarket own, is the price. Many often match the branded products when it comes to taste tests, so it’s always worth seeing if they hold up on taste.

    You can lock in savings every time you buy these cheaper items, and if you’ve found that they don’t match up and you can taste the difference, you’ve spent less and you can try an alternative product that suits your budget.

    Shop online

    Another savvy tip from TikTok is to shop online instead of in store. This can reduce the temptation to impulse buy as you walk around the store, and is especially effective if you food shop whilst hungry. As we all know, cravings can result in buying far more than you had planned.

    Doing a food shop online also grants shoppers 24/7 availability and allows them to shop at their convenience. Many supermarkets offer free shipping if customers have spent over a certain amount on their shop, as well as loyalty programs that can save shoppers extra money when ordering their next online shop.

    Shoppers can also take their time before heading to the checkout, meaning they can browse deals and offers more easily - potentially saving more money in the long run on their bill.

    Shopping online can reduce the temptations to grab extra items while in store.

    Avoid baskets where possible

    Many TikTok hack videos advise shoppers to avoid using a basket if you’re just at the supermarket for a couple of things. This reduces the temptation to pick up items you didn’t plan on buying.

    Avoiding a basket where possible can be a simple, yet effective, way to stick to your grocery list, and just buy what you came in the store for - especially if you only came in for a few ingredients you forgot during your last visit.

    Once you’ve grabbed the items you need, there’s only a certain amount of extra items you can carry, which should keep your grocery budget in check and help prevent impulse buying from being tempted by deals whilst in store.

    Avoiding a basket where possible can be a simple, yet effective, way to stick to your grocery list.

    Grab a loyalty/reward card

    Another hack from savvy TikTokers is to get loyalty or rewards cards to start collecting points which can be redeemed for discounts against your shop.

    Other benefits of these types of cards include birthday discounts, early access to products and exclusive deals/offers.

    These exclusive offers can save you a lot of money over a year, however, it’s important to   never just shop at one store because of a loyalty scheme.

    It’s also worth targeting your spending at places which have savings on items that you would usually buy. Some vouchers sent to you by supermarkets, such as through the Clubcard or Nectar card schemes, may be incentivising you to spend money that you would have saved otherwise.

    Benefits of loyalty cards include birthday discounts, early access to products and exclusive deals/offers.

    Pick items from the back of the shelf

    We all want to get the best dates possible on our food products and make sure the bread we’ve purchased will still be in date in a few days’ time. Well, savvy TikTokers have revealed their trick for getting the best dates - pick items that are further back on the shelf, as they will most likely have longer best-before dates.

    Supermarket staff will often put the earliest dates to the front of the shelf when restocking, so customers will be tempted to grab the item closest to them. But if shoppers dig a little deeper, they may be likely to find the best dates.

    As they may be fresher, they should last longer, and reduce the likelihood of it being wasted by going out of date before being used.

    Pick items from the back of the shelf as these are usually the freshest.

    Don’t shop at eye-level

    Supermarkets reportedly place premium items at eye level to encourage shoppers to pick them over cheaper alternatives.

    That’s why many Tiktokers suggest scanning the shelves from top to bottom to find the cheaper priced items.

    Alternatively, shoppers may be able to find cheaper priced products in the longer life aisle as opposed to fresh options.

    Scanning the shelves from top to bottom to find the cheaper priced items.

    Download food waste apps

    With 6.7 million tonnes of food wasted per year in the UK, we all play a part in the far reaching problem of food waste.

    Over the last couple of years, the development of food waste apps means that it’s never been easier to tackle the problem - and it can all be done on your phone.

    Some of these apps involve rescuing food from cafes, restaurants, bakeries, shops and neighbours that might otherwise be destined for the bin. This initiative allows consumers to eat cheaply and do their bit for the environment, while businesses can enjoy extra customers and avoid throwing away their produce.

    Downloading food waste apps such as “Too Good To Go” can help shoppers pick up a bargain on food that stores would otherwise be throwing away.

    A man collects his food, ordered through food-sharing app Karma.