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During food shopping




It is difficult to estimate individual CO₂ savings in this section but if we could eradicate most food waste in UK that would work out at around 830kg CO₂ per household per year.

In this section we will look at tricks to help keep the cost of your food shopping as low as possible when you are in the shops.

Currently, we throw out 30% of food in UK (9.2 million tonnes) and it is time we all worked together to stop this terrible waste. If we stopped this waste, the greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road.

Money saving tips

Takes the downshift challenge

Move down one product level e.g. Premium to Branded, Branded to Own Brand, or Own Brand to Value. Just remember when buying animal products, this may come at a cost to animal welfare! If you drop a brand level on everything you can cut your bill by about 30%. If a family’s weekly shop is £100 then that’s a saving of £1,560 a year. Even if you only drop half the brands, that’s still a saving of £780 a year. Note: this shop will include some non- food items such as toothpaste and toilet roll but mostly it is food and drink products.

Don’t buy bottled water

Brilliant marketing. This industry is worth £2 billion in UK. It may come as a surprise to you but there is very little difference between water coming out of your tap and the water in bottles. The cost difference is outrageous, about 0.1p per litre from the tap and 65p per litre in bottles.

If you bought 5 litres of bottled water a week that’s a staggering £169 a year for something that could be costing you 26p per year. That’s a saving of £168.74


If you go food shopping when hungry, you will inevitably buy more than you need, or buy packs of your favourite naughty snacks and eat them before you get home. We’ve all done it!

A small pack of cashew nuts (£1.50) can disappear by the time you reach the exit from the supermarket, do that once a week and you’ve blown £78 in a year.

Yellow sticker discounts

Its a saving on perfectly good food that is nearly out of date! Reduction times vary by store/opening time, yet some definite patterns emerge. The first yellow stickers appear around 10am, and the silly-price reductions begin at 7pm, when stores cut prices by 75% and upwards.

The time supermarkets put out these bargains tends to vary, but generally supermarkets tend to slap a yellow sticker on items first thing in the morning, after lunch, and just before closing time – and the biggest discounts are usually just before stores shut however don’t just buy an item because it’s reduced. It’s only a bargain if you need it!

‘Best before’ on-line stores

There are local specialists and even an online store, Approved Food, which specialise in food that is either near or just passed its ‘Best Before’ date. Approved Food has a minimum £5.99 delivery charge, so it’s worth bulk-buying. There are no finite rules on how far beyond a ‘best before date’ it’s still safe to eat products, so you need to make the decision yourself.

Discounts from on-line supermarkets

It’s possible to get big discounts from online supermarkets by simply leaving the (virtual) shop. When you don’t complete an order, they often email you a discount as a way to entice you back to make a purchase. To try it, pop something in your basket, without buying. You may well find a discount code or offer lands in your email inbox within a few days. Make sure to then sign back into your online account or they won’t know who you are.

Check cost per kg/lb/gram/ml

Check the cost per kg / lb / gram / ml on each item to make sure you are paying the lowest price. This figure is often shown on the price sticker on the supermarket shelf, not on the product itself.

Buy ‘Own Brands’

‘Own brands’ may well come from the same factory as ‘Brands’! Take a look at for a whole range of ideas.

Don’t be seduced by BOGOF offers

If you are buying food that goes off quickly, don’t be seduced by ‘Buy One Get One Free’ (BOGOF) offers. That extra pack may end up in the bin.

Swap lists

Go shopping with a friend and swap lists. This way you buy only what’s on their list and your friend buys only what you need, no impulse buying!!

What if you find a sale item is sold out?

If you ever go to the supermarket and find that an item on sale is sold out, you can ask for a ‘raincheck’ voucher. This is a kind of rebate or coupon to make up for them not having the stock. Most of the time it is at the store manager’s discretion, but don’t be afraid to ask at the customer service desk.

Do I need it?

Think “do I really need it?” before you buy something.

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk means less cost, less packaging, and fewer trips to the shops. Look for items with a long ‘best before date’ e.g. pasta, pulses, coffee etc.

Ignore sweets and magazines placed by the till

A decade ago most supermarkets said they would stop placing snacks near tills but unfortunately many of them still do it. These are deliberately put near the till to give stores one last attempt to grab your cash as impulse buys. Our advice is try and resist them. Its better for your health and pocket.

Look high and low for best deals

The most profitable products for the supermarket are those placed at eye level. These are often the worst deals for shoppers, so look on the high and low shelves for the best deals.

Look high and low on supermarket shelves for the best deals.

Avoid tempting treats

Avoid the treats dotted around supermarkets. ​Try not to be seduced by the end of aisle bargains, you probably don’t need them.

Go shopping without the kids!

If possible, go shopping on your own or with a friend. Children can be a big distraction and you may find you’ve been persuaded to add a whole heap of extras to your shopping trolley.

Nice smells in-store? Don’t fall for it!

Supermarkets make sure there are yummy smells (such as baking bread) in their stores. This type of aroma is intended to make you feel hungry so you are more likely to buy more food, increasing the supermarket’s profits.

Environmental tips

Buy loose (rather than pre-packed) fruit and veg

If you purchase unwrapped (pre-packaged) produce such as fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you reduce packaging and can save money (the price per kg is often less for loose produce).

Buy fresh foods

Buying fresh food can save money and improve your health at the same time.

Buy foods in season

Try to avoid buying produce out of season. Fruit and veg sections at supermarkets look pretty much the same all year round but many of the fruits and vegetables are only available from UK farmers at certain times of the year. Beyond these times the food is coming in from overseas or grown in energy hungry greenhouses.

We are fortunate to live in a country with four distinct seasons and enjoy a fantastic variety of fruits and vegetables from local farmers. It makes for a rich, most delicious and healthy diet…we just need to make a conscious effort to discover it! Have a look at

It will also help to reduce your CO₂ imprint due to lower production and transportation costs.

Buy less produce that can spoil

Buy smaller portions of produce that goes off to prevent excess waste. For example, if you are continually throwing out mouldy bread then buy smaller loaves.

Buy imperfect shaped (ugly!) fruit and veg

If you are buying from a local farmer or farmers market, the fruit and veg. may be the ‘wrong’ shape but they still taste the same (or even better) than the perfectly shaped products from supermarkets.

Buy local produce

Buy from local suppliers such as farmers, farmers markets or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Co-op to find bargains and quality food. This will also help reduce food miles and your CO₂ imprint.

Buy products with minimal packaging

Try to pick items with minimal or no packaging to help reduce the world packaging / plastic pollution problem. Check to see if packaging is made from recycled and/or recyclable material.

Avoid purchasing pre-prepared frozen meals

Cook your own meals at home, try and avoid pre-prepared frozen equivalents. Cooking using fresh ingredients means you know exactly what is going into your food, and, if you’re diligent about sourcing, where it came from. This option cuts out steps of the food’s lifecycle (and the associated energy in processing and transportation that comes from each step). It can also be a healthier and cheaper option.

Eat less meat

We only need to eat meat 2/3 times per week, a more vegetarian diet is good for your health, your pocket and the environment.