I keep planning to have a no buy month and use what I have in my freezers. But then I go for a quick reckie in the supermarket and there are loads of good deals, a lot of it foods with long use by dates or fresh products that can go in the freezer. Temptation is hard when there’s a bargain to be had!
June was an odd month, I was away for most of it. So I stopped shopping and used what I had for the 10 days I was at home, but it hasn’t made much of a dent in the contents of my counter top freezers and I could really do with the space, so July needed to be a lower spend month, and I managed it in part.
But honestly, that’s okay because something in the back of my mind tells me I need to keep stocking up. That at some point with the way price rises are being threatened for the rest of the year and the way frugal advisors are tapping into reduced shelf deals as a resource for less savvy shoppers, that run of cheap deals and yellow sticker offers is going to end or at least going to become very few and far between. It could become a competitive market and that’s what worries me, and shops could counteract price rises by not making the deals as generous. People have to eat, right, so they’re going to buy it no matter how small the discount.
This is what happened during 2020 when supply chains were stretched and we were all in lockdown and stockpiling like we were in an episode of the Walking Dead. Reduced shelf offers stopped. App promotions stopped. This time, I figure that either stores will just stop stocking as much because of the waste as shoppers rein in their budgets (and there seems to be a lot of that at the moment), or deals won’t be as generous because yellow stickers are a percentage off the full shelf price. My £20 a month budget cannot go up to accommodate that.
Growing my own veg will help as the year progresses, but it’s a small amount. Whilst I have a good stock of long shelf life items, fresh veg is a tricky one because it needs regular replenishment. And that’s why my freezers are so full right now, because I’ve been freezing cheap vegetables. I have all sorts growing in my pots this year, many plants which return without help each year and others which are cut and come again and I’ve managed to successfully grow some crops from seeds I got on supermarket shops – like yellow sticker runner beans and planting the seeds from the pods.
I know I can afford to eat less than I am now (I’m still working on that snacking habit) and I have successfully dropped my monthly food budget from £23 to £20 thanks to cashback apps, Sainsbury’s gift cards for taking surveys and my continued commitment to only buying yellow sticker foods where possible. But to avoid temptation, I am also going to Morrisons less. Whilst picking up an excess of dented cans is fine, it’s the fresh stuff that gets me every time.
Given that Morrisons have rolled back some of their saver prices to last year’s figures, I am adding a few extras to my basket for products like tins, packets and baking ingredients which are always hit hard by price rises when things get tough. But already I have seen them starting to creep up.
My local supermarket was starting to look a little bit like lockdown 2020 again in certain departments. Vegetable oil was a tricky one. Empty shelves and ‘two per customer only’ requests are standard, and I’ve started to use water instead of oil in the pan, but apart from that, things still look relatively normal as I write.
Cashback apps and surveys which only pay in supermarket vouchers (Valued Opinions pays me in Sainsbury’s gift cards) help me add to my stash. So for now things are ticking along, but I am under no illusion that these will also stop if supplies become scarce. Businesses will be reluctant to give away freebies if things get tight.
So what’s to come? After all, this isn’t 2020. This is different, and I don’t think people’s behaviour is going to be the same since budgets are now the primary concern, and it’s cutting back, not stocking up, which is likely to be on most consumers minds. Predictions are that price hikes won’t really start to bite until later this year, since food producers will still be using pre price rise produced products for now, but some of the more observant savvy shoppers out there have noticed that 2 pints of milk is now the same price as 4 pints were in January.
I am watching headlines in the news, not taking all of it too seriously, but being mindful that interest rates, and economic issues will play a part in what happens over the next six months and beyond. I expect the cheap deals I have been living off, to dwindle to some extent and it pays to plan ahead, think carefully and be mindful of what’s in your control.