Food banksWatch this thread
And in the case of my big weekly food shop which is done exclusively downtown at Tesco's I since have had to cut way back on that expense. So I went over to a food bank at a local church a few times in order to see if I qualified for any more financial support and general help etc.
These are usually items which are about to go past a sell by date but there is some overlap with stock clearance too.
Most supermarkets will have a small section dedicated for reduced items. In some cases, they may have several sections for reduced items, e.g. one for refrigerated items, one for non-refrigerated items and one for fruit/veg. You may also find reduced items scattered around the store.
Items can be reduced a little bit from their original price or quite substantially. The size of the reduction often depends at the time of the day. For example, you will rarely find good reduced offers at Saturday midday. Note that reduced items are usually visible by yellow stickers placed on the packaging of the product.
These are items that the store wants to get rid off because they no longer want to sell the product. Alternatively, they may have a fresh batch of the product and the older one needs to be removed, even if it has a long time before expiry.
Supermarkets will occasionally need to clear stock. You will find for a product on the shelf, or sometimes several shelves, with the label "clearance" underneath its advertised price. These items will be heavily discounted but may not necessarily contain a yellow sticker, as with reduced items. Instead, the word "clearance" will be placed on the label on the shelf and the product itself will have no stickers/ markings. There is no hard rule though with regards to which advertising method is used to denote clearance items.
Items for clearance could be located anywhere in the store. I have noticed it occurring for tin cans, biscuits and pet food.
Price per weight:
Always look at the price per weight of an item. This is just as important as its absolute price. You will often find two items which are, say, £1, but one item is costed less per gram than another item. Often buying multipack is cheaper, but this is not a hard rule - you may find single packed items cheaper per weight as well. If there is a promotion, the stores should update the price labels per weight to reflect the promotion, which should help you to make a better comparison.
Supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi may often appear cheaper for some products - and they can be - but for others, they may be more experience per weight. Watch out for this!
Best Before date:
In the UK. this date refers to the quality of the food. It is fine to eat food (that has been stored correctly and its packaging is not damaged etc) beyond the best before date. The best before date is NOT the same as the "use by" date:
So do not be afraid of buying items such as tin cans and storing them for long-term use.
Many of the supermarkets offer reward schemes, which provide discounts for items that you buy regularly. Use these offers as much as you can. However, if on budget, only use them if you actually intended to buy the item in the first place..
Some expensive branded food is made in the exact same factories and with the same ingredients as the cheaper supermarket brand. I reckon tin can soups are an example of this and perhaps some biscuits. Always check the ingredients (and the quantity of the ingredients). Try different (and cheaper) brands as you may find them tasting exactly the same or better.
Store layout/ Impulse buys:
Cheaper items are often located on the lowest or the highest shelf, away from your line of sight. This is done deliberately so that your focus is drawn to the more expensive items.
Supermarkets will usually place random items that have promotions at the ends of the aisles (see spoiler below). As you go past each aisle looking for your regular products, you will notice them. This is done deliberately to entice you to make an impulse buy i.e. an item you buy but which you did not originally intend to buy when you visited the store.
Notice the £1 items at the end of the aisle in this tesco store?
Supermarkets will also place confectionary near the checkout tills as well, to also entice an impulse buy. The items near the checkouts rarely offer good value for money, so it is better to visit the dedicated confectionary aisle instead.
You may find fresh food being cooked e.g bread and meat. This may also entice you to make an impulse buy.
So be wary and make sure you eat food before visiting the supermarket!