On Monday I headed to my local supermarket, my shopping list in my hand and a new mission to fulfil. My task this week is to try to save money by shifting down a brand from the items that I might usually buy. I want to see if this approach can save me money and how the quality of the products compares. Over the next few weeks I will also be trying to apply the principles of downshifting to other areas of my life, but first things first.
Normally I zoom around the supermarket but this particular shopping trip took a lot longer than usual. That’s because I had to examine each item on my list carefully to determine which product I should replace it with and whether it was actually cheaper than the usual brand I might buy. As a few of you said on the blog last week, sometimes it can be hard to determine if an item is cheaper than another one because the weights and measures can be different. I went shopping with a notebook and wrote down the price of each item and its price per 100g, 100ml or kg.
This was my shopping list:
8 flour tortillas
Old El Paso £1.56
Store brand £1.00
Store brand 33p
Store brand 44p
R Whites 80p
Store brand 48p
Heinz £1.61 (35p per 100g)
Branston 98p (21p per 100g)
Head & Shoulders £4.70 (95.2p per 100g)
Store brand anti-dandruff £1 (25p per 100g)
Washing powder tablets
Fairy non-bio £3.88 (12.9p each)
Store non-bio £2.56 (7.1p each)
Felix £4.35 a box (£3.62 per kg)
Store brand £2.46 a box (£2.05 per kg)
Broadoak £2.78 (£5.68 per kg)
Store brand £1.97 (£2.20 per kg)
Activia £1.60 for 4 (32p per kg)
Store brand £1 (20p per 100g)
Usual brand total cost = £22.42
Store brand cost = £12.22
Wow. I have to say that I am amazed by the difference in total cost because I didn’t even go for the very cheapest store ‘value’ brand products as replacements but the supermarket’s main own brand. In the case of the tomato ketchup, I actually plumped for the next brand down in price, which happened to be Branston (in my ignorance, I thought they only made pickle!). As I was shopping, I didn’t feel as though I was actively scrimping either. Last week we talked about the packaging tricks that retailers use to get you to buy more expensive items, but I didn’t feel from the effect of the packaging that my shopping trolley was filled with cheap, inferior products.
That said, washing powder was one of the most difficult things for me to switch. DJ is very sensitive to it. He won’t thank me for telling you this, but he once came out in terrible hives after changing powders, so I was a bit nervous about buying the supermarket non-bio, even though it states on the packet that it’s for sensitive skin. I’m also curious about the anti-dandruff hair shampoo (which claims to be for sensitive scalps and yet is only £1) and food items such as the tinned tomatoes and sausages. One of my foodie friends tells me that she always buys the cheapest tinned tomatoes and never notices the difference but DJ is quite fussy about them, especially about the ones he puts in his Bolognese recipe. Will Dougal eat the store brand cat food or turn his nose up at it? I let you know later in the week how the quality of the downshifted items compared to the branded products.
Which supermarket items are you comfortable downshifting and which ones do you prefer to pay more for?
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