SOARING inflation is squeezing households’ wallets and purses – but there’s help if you’re struggling to pay for food.
Research from analytics company Kantar revealed food inflation shot up to 17.1% in February.
Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) level of inflation in the same month rose unexpectedly to 10.4%.
It means people’s money isn’t going as far as the cost of everyday essentials rise in price.
Some products have shot up more than others – Galaxy chocolate bars have soared from 99p to £1.50 in Tesco.
Meanwhile, Cadbury cut the size of its Dairy Milk sharing bar and bags of its buttons by almost a quarter earlier this month too, while keeping prices the same.
But there are ways to get your food for cheap, or even free.
Healthy Start Vouchers
You can pick up vouchers to spend on food through the Healthy Start Scheme.
You get one or two vouchers per week, per child, depending on how old each child is.
They can then be redeemed in supermarkets to buy milk, formula, fruit and vegetables.
Some convenience and drug stores accept them too.
Those eligible for the scheme get money added on to their Healthy Start card every four weeks.
The amount you are entitled to depends on your circumstances, but you’ll get:
- £4.25 each week of your pregnancy from the 10th week
- £8.50 each week for children from birth to one year old
- £4.25 each week for children between one and four years old
You’ll be eligible if you get Universal Credit and:
- you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
- your family’s monthly ‘take-home pay for this period’ is £408 or less from employment
Or if you get Child Tax Credit and:
- you have at least one child under 4 years old
- your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less
- you do not get Working Tax Credit
You can apply online via the Healthy Start website.
You just have to go through a few different stages, including adding your personal details and where you live.
Household Support Fund
The latest tranche of Household Support Fund (HSF) is ending on March 31.
But, it has been extended until March 31, 2024, with a further £842million added to the pot.
The help on offer depends on where you live, as each local council can decide themselves how to distribute their share.
But, some authorities offer out food vouchers to struggling households.
In other cases, you might get a direct bank transfer, which you can always use towards the cost of groceries.
You should check with your local council about what help you might be able to get.
Food waste apps
A number of apps have sprung up in recent years aimed at tackling the problem of food waste among both consumers and retailers.
Through them, you can often get produce from restaurants, cafes and supermarkets that is due to be thrown out for cheap, or even free.
It’s not just food you can get a hold of either – you can pick up everything from toiletries to baby clothes.
Some apps worth checking out are Olio, Too Good to Go and Karma.
Supermarket loyalty schemes
The vast majority of supermarkets run their own loyalty schemes, where in most cases you can pick up points and turn them into vouchers for food.
Tesco has its Clubcard while Sainsbury’s customers can pick up points through the Nectar Card.
Meanwhile, Asda has its Rewards scheme and there’s also Lidl Plus.
Bear in mind, in most cases, you have to spend a fair bit of money to get enough points worth redeeming.
But every little helps, and if you already shop at one particular supermarket, you might as well sign up to its loyalty scheme to bag yourself a treat later on down the line.
Wonky vegetables and fruit
A number of supermarkets sell wonky fruit and veg that’s cheaper than more visually pleasing produce.
It’s a way for retailers to further reduce their food waste while keeping costs down.
And it helps farmers too, who in the past might have seen their misshapen fruit and veg rejected.
Shoppers can also pick up wonky fruit and veg boxes from some supermarkets.
For example, Lidl’s Waste Not scheme sees customers given the chance to buy five kilos of produce for just £1.50.
Meanwhile, Aldi recently extended its Too Good to Go scheme across all 990 branches, where customers can get £10 worth of food for £3.30.
You just have to sign up to the Too Good to Go app via the Apple store or Google Store.
Because I’m ‘appy
Make sure you sign up to all the apps you can – whether that be for Greggs, McDonald’s or Costa.
Some companies offer you free food or drinks on your birthday, while others will give you free food if you’re a first time customer.
Costa, for example, sometimes offers customers a free drink, if they make another purchase.
Meanwhile, Greggs gives you a free sweet treat on your birthday.