Top tips on reducing your food costs

With the high cost of food a concern for 95% of consumers in Northern Ireland, we have put together some tips to help save you money at each stage of your food shop.


“We know from our consumer research that households in Northern Ireland are already changing their shopping, cooking and eating habits, due to the rising cost of living,”, said Philippa McKeown-Brown, Head of Food Policy at the Consumer Council.

 “Our most recent Northern Ireland Household Expenditure Tracker shows that in January to March this year (when food prices hit their peak at 19.1%), lowest-earning households were having to spend as much on food as they were on their combined housing and energy costs.

“This is placing a lot of strain on some households, with many low-income consumers having to sacrifice on the quality of the food they buy, and the quantity, with some parents reducing their portion sizes or skipping meals completely to ensure their children eat enough.”

Our research also shows that many consumers are doing all they can to save money on their grocery shopping, whilst others are only now beginning to adjust their spending. 

These tips may help you make your money and food go further:

Top tips:

Before you shop

  • Do a stock take of your cupboards and fridge to use up what you have.
  • Create a meal plan for the week and base your shopping list on this to avoid unnecessary purchases, use up ingredients, and any leftovers. There are plenty of resources online that cater for low budgets and time issues.
  • Plan meals you can cook in batches. This will save on home energy costs, give you an easy meal for another night, and avoid the need for last minute takeaways or ready meals.

Shopping tips

  • If you normally buy big name brands, try shifting to a ‘regular’ or supermarket own brand. Not only are they cheaper, but they’re often healthier too.
  • “Special offers” might not be that special. Always check the price per unit information on the shelf-edge labelling to work out if you’re getting value for money.
  • If you do your food shopping online, don’t just stick to your regular list – check offers and the unit price of your regular purchases against other options to make sure you are getting best value for money.

When you get the shopping home

  • Inspect pre-packed fruit and vegetables before storing them away, one bad apple or potato will quickly ruin the lot.
  • Is your fridge cool enough? It should be set between 3-5°C, but the average UK fridge is too warm at 7°C.
  • Use-by dates are there for safety. You can eat, cook or freeze food up until midnight on the use-by date shown. Cooking the food will give you an extra 48 hours to either eat it or cool it down and freeze it.
  • Best before dates mean just that, you can still consume food or drink after that date, but the quality may not be as good.

Useful information

  • food
  • Cost of Living
  • Food