Downshifting challenge: Day four

This week on the blog I have been investigating whether I can shift down a brand in my grocery shopping but still retain the same quality I expect from branded products.

I have to say that I was impressed with the cost of my purchases on Monday. While I often buy store own-brands and look for bargains, I have never tried to downshift all of my shopping in this way before, so despite all the frugal tips I have picked up over the years of writing this blog, it was still an eye-opener for me to do so and compare like with like. But as we all know, price isn’t everything and, as they say, sometimes you get what you pay for, right? So, how did my purchases measure up in terms of quality? Well, so far, so good.

Yesterday evening we made huevos rancheros for dinner (cook onion, tinned tomatoes, chopped pepper for 15 minutes, add some chopped chilli, crack two eggs into the pan and cook with a lid on for six minutes, serve with a flour tortilla – fab!) – using the flour tortillas and tinned tomatoes. The flour tortillas were great and actually much bigger than the more expensive branded ones. And, while DJ reckoned that the own brand tinned tomatoes weren’t as ‘meaty’ in flavour as the branded ones he likes to put in his spag bol, they were still tasty and did the job. Similarly, the tin of store brand baked beans was perhaps a little runnier than a tin of Heinz beans but were fine. I often buy store brand baked beans anyway and am not particularly fussy about them.

The store brand digestive yoghurts were delicious and have all but disappeared from the fridge, which is evidently a good sign! The lemonade doesn’t have the distinctive R White’s flavour but is very drinkable and fine as a mixer. I don’t know about you, but I tend to find it’s easier to get away with a store brand lemonade than it is with a store brand cola.

I was less confident about using the cheap shampoo as I have a sensitive scalp which often doesn’t appreciate cheaper brands. Luckily my scalp wasn’t itchy afterwards, which was a result. However, sometimes I find that it’s ok to use a cheaper shampoo for a couple of washes but the irritation builds up after multiple uses, so I will reserve judgement on this one for now.

This morning I was a bit greedy and treated myself to a sausage sarnie to test out the store brand sausages and Branston ketchup. DJ and I are a bit picky about our sausages and I was concerned they wouldn’t stand up to the usual Cumberland brand we buy. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them again. They were a bit too fluffy and less flavoursome than the usual ones we buy, but not bad for the price. I’m not sure they’d stand up in a toad in the hole dish but in a sandwich, smothered with ketchup, they were fine. As for the ketchup, it was possibly a bit more vinegary in taste than the usual brand we buy, but not bad at all. I certainly didn’t feel as though I was missing out.

Dougal (the cat) is one of my most fierce shopping critics but, for once, he failed to turn his nose up at the own brand cat food on offer. In fact, yesterday when I tried to feed him Whiskas as an alternative, he wouldn’t eat that. Kerri was right in her comment the other day about there being no rhyme or reason to what cats will eat!

The only item I haven’t had time to experiment with in full yet is the washing powder. But the washing is on this morning so I should be able to report back soon once the clothes have dried and DJ has acted as clothes horse/washing powder guinea pig…Next week I will be trying to apply the principles of downshifting to clothes shopping, so I hope you can check in with the blog to see how I get on.

Which grocery items have you regretted downshifting or scrimping on in price? Leave a message and let me know.

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9 Responses to Downshifting challenge: Day four

  1. Christine says:

    Store brand cola is usually disgusting. You probably only noticed the change of taste because you were looking for things as you had changed products. Think of all those of us to have to take the downshifting option through cash flow not through an option of trying to save money though. You can revert back to your favourites at the next shop that you do. Some of us just have to make do. May you never be really poor or you may well be really unhappy.

  2. Kerri says:

    I try to be careful about what I buy, not beacue I am totally forced to through economic circumstance like some, but because I don\’t agree with wasting money for the sake of it. As Christine said, store cola is usually gross, I rarely drink cola but prefer Coke to Pepsi.

  3. Kerri says:

    I downshift on some items, such as tins, so I can upshift on others like sasuages. I won\’t buy value ones and these days only buy British Outdoor bred bangers as I do care about the animals welfare, I will only buy Free Range chicken and British beef given the choice too. My savings on cheaper items mean I can afford this choice.

  4. Kerri says:

    Oh, as a fyi, Waitrose are the only place that seem to see \’essentials/value\’ ham that is outdoor bred and has no added water but which does cost under £2 for 100g (8 slices)…10 points to Waitrose!

  5. Kerri says:

    further update – Sainsburys seem to have broadened their range of ham now, and their Basics is marked as British (although has water added)

  6. Bill says:

    I could not buy or eat poultry, or eggs, unless I see \’em running live Free Range. Even then, I have ter slaughter \’em me\’sen, just ter be sure. I also check the eggs fers wieght, as they should not be over 2.5oz (70gramms) each, if they are genuine Free Range.

  7. Bill says:

    I also avoid all so-called "Organic", as it should be much cheaper than factory produce, due ter much lower production expenses, but is oft double the price. There is also little or no guarantee that it is genuine. Any super-store, or small market trader can stick "Organic" labels on any fruit or veg.

  8. Piper says:

    I drink a lot less cola nowadays, Kerri, as I find it dehydrates me. Like you and Bill, I prefer to buy better quality meat and save money elsewhere in my shopping. I\’d rather have a small amount of good quality meat than loads of poor tasting inferior meat that has no doubt led a miserable life too.

  9. Piper says:

    BTW – the washing powder was fine & neither of us were remotely itchy. I\’m wondering if that cat did taken offence in the end though at the cheap cat food as I haven\’t seen him for a few days. He seems to have done a runner!

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