Frugal Living

Tip 2: Be Prepared with Essential Equipment

Are you prepared before you go shopping? Really? Here’s some shopping kit that you may already be using and others that you may not.

Storage Clips

These little fiddly plastic clips are worth far more than you pay for them. You can expect to pay around €2 for a packet of 20 of varying sizes. From holding freezer bags of sweetcorn or peas closed in the freezer, to keeping bags of sugar tightly closed or cereal etc, storage clips are a fantastic investment. By using them on every open packet you have, you’ll cut down on waste from items spilling out and you’ll also save on food because it will last longer. If you are very stuck and have none in the house a hairgrip will do the job either.

Positives: Cheap to buy, easily replaced.

Negatives: Fiddly to catch, not for those with arthritis in their hands.

Resealable Jars/Containers

I like to use heavy “kilner” style jars because they wash well and are great for storing jams, chutneys and preserves when they’re not holding dried goods. It’s expensive to buy a good number of these at once. They are relatively inexpensive when bought in IKEA but you will also find them cheap enough in your local hardware or homeware store. To cut down on costs buy a packet of storage clips to start and then buy a jar once a week until you have the required number.

Positives: Good for sterilising, durable. Essential if you have a risk of rodent infestation over the winter as they are impossible to get into.

Negatives: Expensive to buy, glass can break, unless cleaned well and dried well after every use they will get a bad stale smell.

Sandwich/Freezer Bags

Not just for sandwiches, freezer bags are always on my shopping list. I bulk buy meat and separate it into meal sized portions when I get home, then package them into the bags before putting into the freezer.

Great for popping spare egg whites into before lashing into the freezer (perfect for macarons), a thick freezer bag can double up as a disposable piping bag when you’re stuck. Sandwich bags also serve as perfect glove covers when it snows, preventing kids hands from getting wet when making snowballs. Just remember to keep a stash of elastic bands on standby to stop them slipping off.

Positives: Cheap to buy, handy around the house.

Negatives: Flimsy bags can crack and break in the freezer so be careful with what you buy, not very eco-friendly.

Shopping bags

Bring your own bags when shopping. If you get caught short and need to buy a roll of bags in the shop, chances are you’re going to have split shopping bags by the time you get home. That’s at a minimum, you run the risk of broken/damaged shopping as well. I use a stash of cotton, washable bags that I’ve accumulated over a couple of years along with strong laminated woven ones as well.

Positives: You’ll save money in the long run, good for the environment.

Negatives: Always having to remember the blinking things before you go shopping!


Yes, yes I know you have to have money to go shopping!

Seriously though do you bring cash?

With the advent of Laser/Visa Debit/Credit Cards, it has become more easy to pay with a card when you reach the till. This also means that it’s far easier to pay for a bigger bill than you intended. It’s hard to stick to a budget when you don’t have a defined amount of money before you start. The easiest way to deal with this is to take out your cash budget before you go shopping. It sharpens the mind and is a constant reminder that you only have that amount to work with.

Positives: Reminds you of your budget, you only spend what you have.

Negatives: It could be embarrassing if you overspend by the time you get to the till.

Shopping List

This might seem incredibly obvious but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who go to the shops with a list in their heads. This makes you vulnerable to impulse buys, not coming home with everything you need and wasting your time wandering around the shops looking for x, y & z.

Write your list down before you go. If you’re too embarrassed to carry your shopping list around scrawled on the back of a used envelope (who me?) then save your list to the notes in your phone instead.

Positives: You only buy what you need.

Negatives: It takes a bit of time before you go shopping.

Extra Shopping Tips:

Where possible, only one person should go shopping. Extra people put extra stuff in trolleys. Himself calls them the “sneaky, sneakies”, I call them budget busters.

If you do have to bring kids, bring along stuff that will distract smallies in the trolley like a favourite toy. For older kids challenge them to work out prices per 100g etc as they go around which should distract them from the goodies.

If you’re on a really tight budget, use a calculator on your phone as you go around the store to tot up your expenditure. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises by the time you checkout.

Stuck for time? Use internet shopping to shop within your budget and deliver to your house. The only thing is you will miss out on instore deals and discounts like yellow sticker items.

Do you have any shopping tips that you’d like to add? Why not comment below?

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • Magda

    Even if you go without kids check price per kilo or 100g, often bigger packages cost more than smaller ones.

    Check prices for products you often buy in different shops. Did you know that fresh ginger costs 4€ per kilo in Asian Shop while 10€ per kilo in Tesco?

    I think you mentioned that while ago, but check your pantry before shopping. You probably have rice/pasta/beans/lentils so use what you have and only buy bits and pieces to enhance the flavour.

    • Never Cooked

      Re asian shops, also for many other items such as rice. Example Tilda Thai Jasmine Rice – Tesco €3 for 500G, Asian shop €5 for 2KG. If you use any of the most used sauces soy, oyster etc… you can get triple the quantity for same price as all supermarkets. Same applies to many spices people use on a regular basis. Also as a general tip, plan what your cooking so less waste

  • chantelle

    Some great tips here! I always use a calculator (I learned that in college) and always sue cash. I am to ise the atm just once a week! I need some kilner jars for storage though!

  • Yaz

    good tips, really looking foward to more 🙂 Love the sandwich bags for over the gloves too haha! And bringing himself is always a NO-NO! He just puts crap in it lol!

  • Yaz

    Oh yeh ment to say aswell, go after youv’e eaten otherwise the munchies will attack and the chocolate muffins get put in the trolly haha!

  • Maud

    I do all these (except the snowball one). If I have kid(s) with me, they get a bagel at the start of the supermarket, which keeps them happily occupied till at least halfway round and is at least better for them than candy at the till. Sometimes an apple is demanded when we get to the veg department, and I’ll happily give her one and weigh one of the others twice to account for it.

    When I was very organised, I used to reorganize my shopping list in order of supermarket aisles, so that I could go through it from top to bottom. If you’re short on time or tend to skip things, it really helps.

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