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Cambridge City Foodbank’s tips for keeping supermarket food bills down amid the cost of living crisis

Margaret Saner, of Cambridge City Foodbank, shares some advice.

Margaret Saner at the Fairbrite shop in Arbury. Picture: Keith Heppell
Margaret Saner at the Fairbrite shop in Arbury. Picture: Keith Heppell

In August 2022, prices in shops rose by 5.1 per cent – an increase from 4.4 per cent on the previous month. Fresh food prices rose the most with a staggering 10.5 per cent increase. This means that families across the UK are paying an average extra £454 per year across their food bills amid the cost of living crisis, with energy and fuel prices also rapidly rising.

In Cambridge, this crisis is having a stark impact on individuals and families.

From May until the end of July 2022, Cambridge City Foodbank helped more than 3,300 people with an emergency food parcel – this was more than at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Below are some useful tips for cutting your food bill while still feeding your family in a healthy, nutritious way.

Buy supermarket brands

Swapping premium or more expensive brands for supermarket own labels can save a lot of money in the long run, without compromising on the taste and nutritional value of your food. A recent study estimates that you could save 30 per cent a year on your food shopping this way. The same also applies to household products such as washing-up liquid, detergent and toilet roll.

Bulk buying

If you have the space, bulk buying can be very cost-effective. Remember to check the price per kilogram label on the shelf to confirm but, almost always, buying a larger quantity of something will be cheaper. Special offers like three for two can also help save money, although it is important to factor in your budget to ensure you can afford to buy two items rather than one. If you do decide to buy in bulk, it is best to go for items that have long shelf lives to avoid wastage.

Compare different supermarkets’ prices

Browsing different supermarkets’ prices can make a real difference to your budget; individual products are likely to vary in price in one compared to another. It may also be worth visiting local markets, butchers and greengrocers, as these can also offer food at a lower cost than a supermarket. However, remember to factor in transport costs too. For example, if it costs you more money to travel to a shop that’s further away rather than one within walking distance, this should be accounted for in your overall budget.

Plan your meals

Deciding what to eat each day and making a plan in advance means you are much more likely to stick to your mealtime schedule and avoid impulse purchases. Taking a shopping list out with you also helps with this and can ensure you only buy what you need – saving money and waste.

Look for the yellow-sticker aisles

Most supermarkets reduce the price of fresh items at the end of each working day – and savings can be as high as 75 per cent off. Check with staff or visit at different times of the day to find out when items are most likely to be reduced in price.

If you are struggling with the rising cost of food, Cambridge City Foodbank may be able to help – no one in our community should have go hungry.

We have eight distribution centres across Cambridge – and work with local agencies such as Citizens Advice and housing support officers to issue foodbank vouchers which can be exchanged for three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable emergency food, as well as bread, cheese, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

To find out more, or to see how we can support you, please visit the foodbank’s website at https://cambridgecity.foodbank.org.uk/.

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