How I use vouchers to save money on the food shop

When I assess the supermarket prices each week for this column, there is one thing that I don’t factor in. As the sample shopping basket I use is generally too small for the purchaser to benefit from shopping vouchers, I don’t include the value they might add. Still, there is a huge benefit to using vouchers, depending on your supermarket of choice.

Excluding certain products such as alcohol, tobacco, and baby food most of the retailers have some form of a rewards system in place.

Aldi doesn’t use a voucher or rewards card system and is very much the outlier in the Irish supermarket battle. Interestingly, they consistently feature as the lowest priced in my trolley survey though.

At Dunnes Stores, it’s a double system of both the Valueclub and grocery shopping vouchers. Spend € 50 in Dunnes and you’ll receive a voucher of € 10 off € 50 to use on your groceries the following week. The technical barrier to this is getting started by spending € 50 the first week but the vouchers are not connected to your Valueclub card so it’s worth asking your friends and family before heading to the supermarket. Similarly, you collect points for shopping on your Valueclub card and receive additional discount vouchers in return.

Lidl don’t offer money-based shopping vouchers as a rule, although you may get the odd € 1 discount off your next shop using the Lidl Plus app. The app allows you to scratch and win after your in-store purchases; this week I won either a bar of white chocolate or a roll of cling film; make of it what you will about my shopping habits! You can also claim percentage discounts off certain items instore which change every Thursday. If you’re a member of the Parkrun community, you can claim a special offer or item for free weekly too.

SuperValu’s rewards system is called Real Rewards and returns 1 point for € 1 spent. They also offer regular promotions for customers in the form of a € 5 off per € 35 spent and so on, providing you use the app and scan your barcode at every transaction.

Finally, Tesco has the Clubcard. On a basic level, it returns 1 point per € 1 spent to your pocket, but there are ways to boost the value of this 1 point / € 1. You can also save points by filling in Certa Fuel Stations and having a Tesco Mobile account. 1 point is roughly equivalent to 1 cent value. Uniquely, Clubcard benefits can be boosted for activities and charity donations but bear in mind how much money you’d need to spend to exchange for these boost vouchers. An adult pass to Dublin Zoo requires € 4 worth of vouchers or a spend of € 400 to claim.

Personally, I save up my Clubcard points in their Christmas savers scheme so I get a bulk amount of vouchers back in November. You can also make cash payments at the till making it a handy savings system for an expensive time of the year.

You can see where, if you shop at four of five main supermarkets there are savings to be made by being a member of their loyalty schemes. My recommendation is that you sign up for the lot and cherry-pick which system suits you depending on where you’re shopping. Plus chat to your friends and family before you head to the shops, you never know who may have a shopping voucher that will benefit you.

I continue to track the cost of a basket of groceries in the supermarkets over the coming weeks, you’ll see this week’s findings below.

Strawberry Cream Cake

recipe by:Caitriona Redmond

Irish strawberries are just coming into season so no better reason to make this super-light sponge.

Strawberry Cream Cake

Preparation Time

25 mins

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggs

  • 85g caster sugar

  • 85g plain flour

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 300ml fresh cream

  • 4 tbsp strawberry jam (best if it’s slightly warmed)

  • 300g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

Method

  1. Preheat a (fan) oven to 170 °, line 2 sandwich tins (12cm diameter).

  2. Whisk together the eggs and caster sugar until light, frothy and the mixture has about trebled in size.

  3. Turn off the whisk. Stir baking powder into the flour, and then sieve one-third of the flour into the egg mixture. Fold using a metal spoon. Repeat two more times until the flour is gone.

  4. Divide the cake batter between the two sandwich tins and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden on top.

  5. Remove from the oven and allow cooling for 20 minutes before turning out of the tins and assembling the cake.

  6. To assemble the cake, whip the cream to soft peaks. Take one of the cakes and place it on a cake stand. Spread the top liberally with the strawberry jam.

  7. Top with two-thirds of the chopped strawberries then lashings of whipped cream. Gently put the second cake on top. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top of the cake and finish with the remaining chopped strawberries.

  8. This cake is best eaten on the day it is served but will keep for a further 24 hours in the fridge.

Slow Cooker Potatoes

recipe by:Caitriona Redmond

Cook your potatoes in the slow cooker for this low energy, and minimal waste stuffed potato skins recipe

Slow Cooker Potatoes

Preparation Time

5 mins

Cooking Time

4 hours 0 mins

Total Time

4 hours 5 mins

Method

  1. There is no peeling, no chopping and no boiling in this recipe. Simply prick the skins to make sure they don’t burst.

  2. Pop them into the slow cooker with no water or seasoning (you can add seasoning later). Lid on; cooker on high for four hours or so until they are perfectly cooked.

  3. Scoop out the potato from the inside and mash with warm milk, fresh pepper, and a knob of butter for the perfect mash.

  4. Spray the skins with oil, season, and crisp them in the oven or air fryer for crispy potato skins. Sprinkle with grated cheese if you like.

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