[Article updated May 18 at 16:15]
As inflation continues to rise in France – currently predicted to hit a 6.2% annual rise in June, alongside a 26.5% rise in fuel prices – we offer tips on how to make savings on your supermarket shop.
1. Compare prices across different supermarkets
Price gaps between supermarket chains in France hit 23.5% in May this year, a study by research group l’Institut de recherche et d’innovation (IRI) found. It can pay to shop around. Out-of-town supermarkets are usually cheaper than inner-city stores.
Consumer group UFC-Que Choisir has put together a map of 4,000 stores with the lowest prices closest to you on its website.
It may also help to opt for ‘discount’ shops, which sometimes have a poor reputation, but which can save you a significant amount of money compared to mainstream stores.
Sticking to less processed items, with as few ingredients as possible, is a good tip to buy cheap but maintain acceptable quality.
2. Find promotions and cashback deals
It can also pay to switch up your products depending on promotions available.
Many apps, such as Fidme, Fidall and Stocard, can also help you see promotions, while some such as Shopmium also highlight coupons to use.
Some apps will also collect together available discounts and apply them to your account in the form of cashback after you shop, while another, Mon avis le rend gratuit, offers shoppers free products in return for reviews.
3. Choose supermarkets with anti-inflation offers
A number of major supermarkets, including Leclerc, Lidl, and Intermarché, have introduced anti-inflation offers with promotions or ‘price freezes’ lasting longer than traditional offers.
E. Leclerc, for example, has frozen the price of 120 everyday items (such as coffee, rice, nappies, eggs, flour and toiletries) until at least July (the full list is on the supermarket’s website here).
Lidl is also set to offer monthly 5% discounts for shops of more than €50, with the free Lidl smartphone app.
Intermarché is also offering 5% discounts for lower-income households, up to €20 per month per loyalty card holder (for all items except alcohol). Proof of CAF or MSA benefits and proof of ID are required.
4. Make a list and budget, and stick to them
Among tips to save include being extremely strict on budget or list, and not letting yourself be tempted by “good” offers in the supermarket. Similarly, some budgeting experts recommend filling envelopes with a set amount of money per week or month, and only spending what is in your envelope to stay on track.
Some websites also help with this; the cooking website Marmiton has a “good and cheap” category, with recipes costing less than €5 per person.
5. Buy products near their sell-by date and freeze them
Products close to their sell-by date are often sold at a hefty discount (sometimes up to 50 or 75% off). These can be bought at a low cost and then frozen at home, so you can stock up without breaking the bank.
Obviously, you are more likely to find these cut-price items if you visit a supermarket at the end of the day. In addition, some apps such as Phénix and Too Good To Go help to highlight which shops have discounted, leftover and near-to-sell-by-date products available.
6. Cook more at home than using ready-made foods
Although it may take slightly longer, buying cheaper ingredients to make food at home can save significant cash compared to buying ready meals or pre-prepared dishes.
As Olivier Dauvers, a journalist specialising in supermarkets, told FranceInfo: “When you buy a dish prepared by someone else, you’re also paying for the time they spent on it, so it will always cost you more.”
7. Shop local
Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ shops, markets or retailers who favour local produce can sometimes save money.
This is often because the food has travelled for far fewer kilometres to its point of sale and has not been grown in expensive greenhouses. However, this is not always the case, so consumers are still advised to pay attention when shopping at markets or other local stores.
8. Replace fresh items with canned or frozen alternatives
Products with the highest inflation year-on-year in France (from April 2021 to April 2022) include frozen fruit (+33.9%), fresh fish (+12.1%), fresh vegetables (+8.9%) and mutton, lamb and goat meat (+7.7%), according to the latest figures from Insee.
Specialists therefore advise switching to other foods from the same family (for example by replacing some of the meat with eggs, which are also rich in protein).
It may also be cheaper to opt for canned rather than frozen food or fresh fruit and vegetables, which studies suggest offer similar nutritional value to their fresh counterparts.
9. Batch cook to reduce waste
Every year in France, 20kg of food waste per person is thrown away in household waste, including 7kg of food products that are still in their packages, according to a report by ecological transition agency Ademe.
To reduce the amount of food you throw away, it can be helpful to batch cook several portions of the same meal to use up all of the ingredients that you buy. You can then freeze anything you want to save for later.
Alternatively, planning meals with similar ingredients can obviously reduce the amount sitting and slowly going off in your fridge.
10. Use price-comparison apps
It comes as figures show that shoppers are turning to apps and similar tools to shop more cheaply, and find out about the best offers near them.
Parisian, Sébastien, told FranceInfo that he manages to do his food shopping for €10 per week, and saves €80 per month overall on excess spending, by using apps, including popular platform Phénix.
The app helps him to compare the prices of everyday items such as milk and fruit and vegetables, he said, and sometimes enables him to shop up to three or four times cheaper than if he went to his nearest supermarket or more mainstream store. Another such price-comparison app is called Prixing, which allows you to scan the barcode of a product and find which supermarket sells it for the cheapest price.
11. Do your food shop online
When you buy your supermarket shop online, it is sometimes easier to find discount offers and apply them to your shopping cart.
It also means that you cannot be tempted by items you see while walking down the supermarket aisles but which were not on your original list.
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