Shopping Smart In The Time Of COVID

Whether you’re a keyworker trying to grab lunch on empty shelves, have been furloughed and are eating your bodyweight in snacks, are a single person with a passion for cooking, or live in a household of 12 and have discovered how much children eat when they’re not in school – we’ve all felt the pinch over the past few months when it comes to food shopping.

But fear not, bargain hunters! We’ve put together a guide on how to fill your cupboards for less:

Home-Grown Produce

You may not have your own garden, or access to an outdoor space, but don’t let that put you off! Whether you live in a top-floor flat or a country estate, everyone has the ability to grow something – no matter how green-fingered you are (or aren’t).

Indoor Potting – There are many herbs, fruits, and vegetables which don’t need as much space as you think; you don’t even need a plant pot! Lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries can be grown vertically in a PVC pipe, potatoes in a clean dustbin, and an old ice-cream tub can become your new herb garden (plus you get to eat the ice cream first, which is always a bonus!).

Gardens – If you’re lucky enough to have your own garden, then you have an allotment just waiting to be used. Plant the fruit and vegetables that you and your household love the most, and not only will this eliminate the need to buy them every week, but you can’t beat home grown! Plus, planting things in bulk means you can freeze the produce for future use.

Allotments – Allotments are located in most places throughout the UK; usually for an annual fee of between £15 – £35, depending on their size and location. Although each site will have their own guidelines, in general the space is yours to use as you wish. Some even allow for livestock such as pigs, goats, and chickens to be kept.

Not everyone can give the time and care to nurture a plot of land, be it on your doorstep or further afield (pun intended), so if this is the case – ask around.

Speak to friends, family, and neighbours. See if there are others in your circle or your local community who would benefit from reduced bills and delicious food.

Know Your Community

The high street is not what it used to be. Shops are struggling to stay open (especially since lockdown) and a town centre is often not the hub of a community like it once was.

However, knowing what shops are available to you, and how they work, means you can often source foods which you can’t grow yourself, for a fraction of the normal price.

Cornershops – Instead of doing your weekly shop in at a supermarket, try shopping around at alternative stores. Newsagents and independent cornershops often sell own-brand versions of their big-name counterparts – usually at low cost. This way, you can pick up many a bargain and cut your weekly budget.

Trust Stalls – You’ve probably seen trust stalls dotted around in country lanes or small villages. Most of these stalls are unmanned and work on trust (hence the name!); they’re perfect for supporting your local community and snapping up bargains. So ask around, do your research, and go exploring!


Knowing how your preferred supermarket works can save you bundles of cash.

Reductions – Every day your supermarket will reduce items that have reached their sell by date, and it’s not just fresh products like meat and fish. Any cans and tins, multipacks, or damaged boxes are usually reduced, even though their contents may be perfectly fine.

Reductions usually happen 2-4 times a day, with the items getting cheaper each time. Ask a staff member when these times are, and plan your shopping trip around them.

Promotions – Every few weeks your supermarket will have brand-name items on offer, so why not start paying attention to when your favourites are half-price or cheaper? Staff members should also be able to tell you how long a promotion will last, when the next promotion is due, and which offers to expect.

Seasonal Changes – This applies to smaller branches of big-name supermarkets. Because these stores are limited by their size, they have to carefully pick and choose which items to stock. To maximise profits, they tend to choose their stock based on the season, and when a new season starts, the older stock will be moved into a ‘reduced to clear’ section.

And keep an eye out for changes to packaging. When a product has its packaging changed, supermarkets will sell off the older versions quickly and cheaply. This is done sporadically, so keep your eyes peeled for bargains!

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