It’s possible to beat the marketing men at the big food companies and eat well for less. Here are a few tips to get you started…

Retailers spend a lot of time and effort enticing you to buy certain products, usually because there’s more money in it for them. Perhaps they will put a product on special offer, or they could simply place it in a prominent position, where it grabs your eye and makes you buy on impulse. If you know some of the techniques they use, you can beat them at their own game. Here’s a few things to think about, including an idea for doing your own blind taste tests.

1 Do the taste test
Most of us get sucked in by advertising to believe that branded products are much better than supermarket own-labels or unknown brands. However, this is often not the case, as the new discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl have proved to many people. Some of their ‘unknown’ brands have proved as good as, if not better than, famous-brand goods in blind taste tests. Even when it comes to the own-brands of our more established supermarkets, these are often as good as, or better than, famous-brand items. So, the advice is to try and ‘downshift’ on your usual brand, just as an experiment, to see if the quality really is that different. In many cases you may find that the cheaper brand tastes the same.
For a bit of fun, why not set up your own blind taste test at home, to see if friends or neighbours can taste the differences?

2 Look up or down
The most profitable items for a supermarket are normally placed at eye level so, to find the bargains, it’s worth taking the time to look down to shelves nearer the floor, or even up to higher shelves.
Just watch your back when you’re bending down to pick up a bargain!

3 Be prepared to change
If you can be flexible on the brands you choose, it’s worth picking up whatever is on special offer, instead of buying your usual brand.
However, be sure to check that the new brand really is cheaper and it’s not just a case of clever packaging hiding a lower quantity of the product.
On expensive items like filter coffee, you can save a lot of money by going for whatever is on special offer, as long as your taste buds don’t mind!

4 Plan your use of special offers
In some cases, offers like ‘BOGOF’ (buy one get one free) encourage you to buy too much of a product, which will go off before you have time to use it. Instead, be clever with your use of this type of offer and only buy products that last a long time, such as soap or toothpaste; then you’ll be sure to get the full value of the promotion. Also, think about foods that can be frozen, or perhaps even consider sharing out any offers with your neighbours, so that you all make the saving and all the food does get used up.

5 Look at ‘sell by’ dates
You can save money and cut waste if you know the difference between ‘best before/display until’ dates and ‘use by’ dates. The ‘use by’ date is the important one, as the food could deteriorate after this date. However, food that’s discounted because it has gone over (or is near to) the ‘best before’ or ‘display until’ dates could still be fine to eat. There are even websites where you can buy discounted food products, just because they are close to their sell-by dates. We have the full details of one of these websites below.