You’ve heard of switching your energy supplier to slash your bills, and hunting down the best mobile phone prices online. But when it comes to food shopping, we’re more likely to trudge along, barely even thinking as we grab whatever’s on the shelf and toss it straight in our basket.

Now, with the recent news of a merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda that promises to bring a lot more competition to the market – and price drops for us! – we’re turning out attention to the best ways to bag a right bargain when you’re out food shopping…

Use coupons and redeem reward points

It’s the first lesson in food shopping, isn’t it? Don’t forget the coupons and don’t leave your store cards on the side. It’s easy to toss those leaflets and mail-outs away unread; to hit delete on that email – but have a quick peek before you do. It could lead to untold wealth – or, at the very least, knock a few quid off the grocery bill.

The same goes for reward points, which are often posted to you or dispensed at the till. And since those cards track your purchases, they’re likely to offer money and discounts on products you actually want to buy.

Skirt around the edges

If you want to save on your shopping start by changing how you walk around the supermarket. See, every step of your well-worn route is so cunningly designed to place the right products in your path so that they end up in your basket.

The more expensive brands and the processed foods tend to be situated in the centre of supermarkets. That’s when you’re in your zone, right? But that also means that if expensive goods are in the middle… the cheaper goods on the outside. So, one habit you’ll definitely want to make is to shop around the edges first, and see what savings you can make before you get whatever else is on your list.

Don’t be fooled by ‘premium’

Recently, an investigation by The Mirror revealed that value brands and the mid-tier supermarket own-brands were essentially the same product – but with very different price tags.

And even when ‘extra special’ means extra special, that doesn’t mean you should be shelling out for it. Breaking that name-brand habit can be difficult, but try cheaper brands. That way, if you like it, you can stick to it and save a few pennies too.

Do two shops

It might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s worth considering two shops: Once for your cheap or budget foodstuffs, and once for the expensive, branded products. For one thing, you’ll be able to get a pretty good idea on price disparities – and you may end up adjusting your budget accordingly.

But the main reason is a bit of a shopping hack: Doing two shops lets you take advantage of price match deals run by the store. That’s because your ‘expensive brands’ cart is likely to get a price match refund, since there aren’t any cheap products dragging down your average spend.

Only buy what’s on your list

Let’s make this brief: You know exactly what we’re talking about here. Those little ‘treats’ here, that too-good-to-miss bargain there. It’s the quickest way to over-spend. If you’ve made a list, stick to it (and if you’re really, really good, budget for everything on it too).

Time your trips wisely

The trouble with supermarkets these days is that they’re so convenient. Always there when we need them. So, we go whenever we want – and that’s when we really pay for it. If you want a solid habit to get the very best bargains, the first thing you want to do is figure out when the store starts reducing items. The products are fine, but sine the store can’t sell them on the next day, they’d rather turn a quick profit than make a loss.

Either visit at all hours of the day and night or ask a really nice assistant. Typically, stores begin ‘yellow-stickering’ products they can’t sell the next day around 8pm – although it varies from store to store. Before you know it, you’ll be buying top-dollar products for rock-bottom prices.