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MONEY

Nine ways to save money on grocery shopping in Spain

Food shopping has definitely put a dent in all of our wallets recently, so here are our top tips on how to save money at Spanish supermarkets, from the cheapest 'supermercados' in Spain's different regions to the apps that'll help you cut costs.

Nine ways to save money on grocery shopping in Spain
Ways to save money on supermarket shopping in Spain. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

Inflation in Spain stood at 10.4 percent in August 2022, 0.4 percent lower than that registered in July, according to the latest data from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE). 

This only represents a slight decrease in price, not enough for it to be noticeable when you reach the checkout during a weekly food shop. 

Supermarket prices have risen considerably since 2021 in Spain. Carrefour has raised its prices by 12.1 percent, Mercadona by 11.4 percent and Euroski by 9.5 percent. 

Some of the products that have risen the most include sunflower oil (up by 44.4 percent), Red Bull (up by 15.9 percent), ketchup (up by 15.2 percent) and Coca-Cola (up by 14.3 percent). 

Here are our top tips on how to save money on your supermarket shop in Spain. 

Know which are the cheapest supermarkets to shop at

It pays to know where to shop and can save you a significant amount of money by shopping at more affordable chains. The cheapest supermarket may not be the one just down the road from you, so you may have to go slightly further, but as long as it’s not costing you extra petrol money, it might be worth it.

The cheapest supermarkets will depend on where you live in Spain. According to the latest data from the Organisation of Consumers and Users in Spain (OCU), these are the cheapest places to shop in your region of Spain:

  • In Madrid the cheapest supermarket chains are: Alcampo, Supeco and Mercadona.
  • In Catalonia the supermarkets offering the lowest prices are Alcampo, Supeco, Consum, Mercadona and Lidl.
  • In Galicia the cheapest are Alcampo, Familia, Mercadona and Gadis.
  • In the Valencia region the most affordable are Family Cash, Alcampo, Consum and Mercadona.
  • In Andalusia you can get more for your money at Híper Dani, Más Ahorro, Consum, Alcampo and Mercadona.

Buy supermarket store brands

Forget fancy brands of peanut butter and Kellogg’s cereals, if you want to save money, the best way is to buy store brands. According to the OCU, Aldi sells the best value own brands, followed by Mercadona and Lidl.

Be organised and make a list

Make sure you’re organised when you go shopping – have a budget and make a list of ingredients you need. If you have it all written down, you’re unlikely to go rogue and buy other items, just because you like the look of them. Remember never to shop when you’re hungry as you’re bound to overspend and load up your trolley with more than you need. 

And while you’re at it, if you can help it, try not to go shopping with the kids. You’re more likely to get lots of extra items in your basket if the little ones get any say. 

Pay attention to promotions

Look out for promotions and vouchers both in-store and online. You may be able to get money off, buy one get one free offers or coupons for discounts on certain products. 

Make use of loyalty card schemes

Not all supermarkets offer loyalty cards in Spain, but the main ones that do in Spain are Carrefour, Dia, Lidl and Eroski.

The Dia Club card gets you benefits such as coupons and special prices, while Lidl’s Club Plus enables you to get discounts through the app as well as enter you into prize draws. It can also get you discounts at certain petrol stations, as well as deals for family days out to local zoos.  

Those who opt for Carrefour’s scheme can get savings on insurance offered by the supermarket, a five percent deduction on your energy bill if you’re with Iberdrola, and eight percent if you’re with EDP.

You can also save one percent on food prices, as well as enjoy an eight percent refund on the petrol cost if you refuel at one of their own service stations or four percent if you fill up at a CEPSA station.

Take your own shopping bags

This should be something that you’re doing anyway in order to help the environment and not use so much plastic, but taking your own reusable bags will save you money too. Shopping bags on average cost around €0.05 to €0.30 cents.

Look out for discounted items

Sometimes items may be discounted because they need to be used up quickly or have gone past their sell-by date. Usually, these items are labelled with a bright yellow sticker and have a percentage discount on them. As long as you plan on using up the food soon, these discounted items can help you save a lot.

Use apps

Using apps such as Too Good to Go can also be a great way to save money on food shopping. Simply sign up to the app and you’ll be able to see all kinds of deals available.

It could be a bakery that needs to sell off their bread and pastries quickly before they go stale or a greengrocer that needs to sell the rest of their tomatoes before they go bad. This means that you could grab yourself a whole box of food for just a few euros.

Buy loose grains

If you’re buying for just yourself or yourself and a partner instead of a whole family, it can sometimes be cheaper to buy smaller quantities. Rather than buying a whole family bag of rice, it might make more financial sense to buy loose rice from dispensers and get a smaller amount. Of course, this option won’t be available in all supermarkets, so shop around and find out where you can buy grains this way. 

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For members

ELECTRICITY

The cheapest rates Spain’s electricity companies don’t want you to know about

Finding a cheaper tariff is one of the best ways to counteract skyrocketing electricity bills, but a leading consumer watchdog has warned Spain’s electricity providers are not always open to telling customers about the best deal they can get.

The cheapest rates Spain's electricity companies don't want you to know about

Like in many parts of the world, inflation triggered by the war in Ukraine has made the energy market incredibly volatile and sent household electricity bills soaring in Spain. The average bill reached €158 in August, an eye-watering increase of over 60 percent compared to 2021.

To give you some idea of just how much prices have risen in Spain, in August of 2020 the average electricity bill was €64, in 2021 it was €93, and in August 2022 €158.

According to recent figures from Eurostat, electricity bills in Spain have risen eight times more than in France and four times more than in Germany. Whereas the average Spanish household paid 60 percent more in August compared to 2021, in France it rose by just 7.7 percent and in Germany 16.6 percent.

The Spanish government has tried various methods to ease the burden on households. In June the tax (IVA) on electricity bills was cut from 21 percent to 10 percent, and then it was quickly reduced again from 10 percent to 5. The European Commission agreed to cap gas used for power generation at €40 per megawatt-hour known as the ‘Iberian Exception’, with the price limit projected to average out at €50 over the coming 12 months.

READ MORE: Spain to cut electricity tax by half to ease inflation pain 

The Spanish government predicted the measure — which will be in effect until May 31st 2023 — would lead to a reduction in household energy prices of up to 20 percent, yet it has done little to limit the rise of electricity bills so far.

READ MORE:

Unsurprisingly, many Spaniards are now seeking ways to cut down on their bills, whether it be by using the washing machine at certain times to take advantage of off-peak hours, or limiting their use of air-conditioning.

Another method of saving on electricity costs is finding cheaper tariffs.

Yet finding the more affordable rates can be difficult to do, and often the electricity companies make them deliberately difficult to get hold of. That’s according to Spain’s Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU), which have identified some of the cheapest tariffs on the market today. 

Understanding peak and off-peak

Spanish electricity companies offer different prices depending on the time of day you use your electrical appliances. The tariffs are often broken down into hora punta (peak time), hora llana (flat time), and hora valle (off-peak).

If you live in Spain, this is why you might’ve heard the incessant spinning of washing machines through the night in recent months. Nowadays many people simply wait until the weekend, when the tariffs are always off-peak.

So, if you’re thinking about switching, which are some of the best electricity rates you can find in Spain?

Repsol Tarifa Largo Plazo

According to the OCU, the Repsol Tarifa ‘Largo Plazo’ can only be found via this link, because the offer is actually hidden on the Repsol website. And for good reason, too. The Repsol tariff is among the best offers the  market in terms of price per kWh consumed, although the power for off-peak time is a little more than some of the other offers on the list.

The tariff is non-permanent, with a fixed price rate for 3 years.

kWh Prices

Price per kWh consumed: €0.17/kWh.

Peak hours: €29.90 per kW.
Off-peak hours: €29.90 per kW.

Iberdrola Online Plan

The Iberdrola Online Plan, which you can find here, is only available until September 30th, so be sure to take advantage of it as soon as possible.

Using Iberdrola’s online tool, you can select a kW rate and it will give you price estimates for the different values. If you’re environmentally minded, Iberdrola’s Online Plan claims to use 100 percent green electricity, so you can enjoy renewable energy and reduce your CO2 emissions.

There’s also 14 hours of savings during the night up until mid-morning.

This plan is only for customers who take out the contract online, as the name suggests, and features entirely electronic billing.

kWh Prices

Price per kWh consumed: €0.159353 + metered gas cost (in August €0.161529 /kWh).
Price per kW contracted during peak hours (fixed term): €30.66747.
Price per kW contracted during off-peak hours (fixed term): €4.104338. 

Not the prices will be revised in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on January 1st. 

Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy tariffs are not permanent and is all done online, which allows you the flexibility to move around again in the future if you come across a better offer. Octopus offer two fixed prices:

Octopus 3: price per kWh consumed during peak hours is 0.254 €/kWh; at flat time 0.209 €/kWh; and at off-peak hours 0.185 €/kWh.

Octopus Relax: price per kWh consumed of 0.212 €/kWh.

kWh Prices (both Octopus tariffs) 

Peak hours (fixed term): €32.85.
Off-peak hours (fixed term): €6.57.

Iberdrola Special Plan

The Iberdrola Special Plan offers a 15 percent discount during the first year, and its kWh prices for both on and off-peak are competitive with other cheaper tariffs.

kWh Prices

Price per kWh consumed: €0.178662 (minus the 15 percent extra discount) but plus a gas metering cost (which in August was €0.161529/kWh.)

Peak hours (fixed term): €30.52381
Off-peak hours (fixed term): €3.512901

Endesa ‘One Luz’ Tariff 

Endesa is currently offering the ‘One Luz’ tariff, which offers a 10 percent discount on consumption and an additional 10 percent reduction throughout the first year.

kWh Prices

Price per kWh consumed: €0.189 (plus the 10 percent +10 percent discount) + the metered gas cost (which in August was €0.161529/KWh).

Peak hours (fixed term): €33.86.

Off-peak hours (fixed term): €7.9973

Total Energies

Another interesting option is Total Energies, who offer entirely personalised pricing plans. Basically, Total Energies want to attract your business by outdoing your current rate. In order to receive a quote and see how it stacks up against your current provider, you simply upload a copy of your current bill to the website and Total Energies make an offer, often bettering your current rate.

If they make an offer, Total Energies promise a discount lasting for 4 years, although the price on which the discount is fixed is only valid for 12 months.

READ MORE: 11 ways to cut costs as Spain’s electricity rates beat all-time price records

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