Friday, 18 April 2014

Frugal Friday...

Come on then - hands up, who's done Martin Lewis's "Downshift challenge" - where you switch your regular shopping choices for a brand level lower to see if the family notice the difference? Hmmm...that's a LOT of you. In which case I bet you have also, at some stage, ended up with a product sooooo appallingly bad that you practically had to hold everyone else at gunpoint to get it finished? (The flip-side of course is the really nice things you find that you end up preferring to the earlier, pricier version...value jaffa cakes, anyone?)

For those that don't have the foggiest what I'm talking about - the premise of the challenge then - if you normally buy a store's premium own brand goods, then you try dropping those to branded. If you normally buy branded, you drop to store own-brand, and if you usually buy own-brand, then it's the good old budget ranges for you. Good idea, eh? There's even a special section on the Money Saving Expert site with a calculator thingy with clever sliders that you can use to see how much you might be able to save.

Orkney - Easter 2013
There are other tricks to saving money in the supermarket too, but to fully capitalise, you need to get inside those sneaky supermarket head-honcho's brains a little - in order to really save money, firstly you need to understand what they're trying to make you think. Firstly, have a think about your local Supermarket - and specifically about any value/savers/budget range goods you buy. How often do you reach a hand out at eye-level and grab one of those items from the shelf? Pretty much never - that's how often! The goods they want you to buy are the ones you'll find at eye level - those are most commonly branded goods (carrying a higher price tag in the first place) and their own brand (because they get the biggest mark-up on those, for the most part). Premium store brands tend to be higher up (the higher on the shelf, the more people think the quality has gone up with it) and value items right on the very bottom - where only those who are actively searching for them will find them.  Stores also put tempting items right near the door - if the first thing you see when you walk in is something like bags of apples for a bargain £1, or a special offer on some tasty looking tomatoes, the subtle implication is that the pricing throughout the store is like that - wrong!

Constipated Unicorn at Hampton Court
We've talked before about shopping armed with a list - and how that avoids some of the impulse-buys that so often push up spending. You can take this one step further though - by learning the layout of your local store. Watch people shopping in a supermarket, and how often do you see people walking up and down each aisle, regardless of whether they want anything there or not. Try putting your list in order - so the things you encounter first at the beginning (usually fruit/veg, and dairy) then jars and tins, and finally frozen food right at the end.  This means you can then miss out whole great chunks of the store by only visiting the sections you need, and because you're only covering each section of ground once - it's quicker, too! It also has the advantage of often finishing you up right near the less-used tills at the far end of the store away from the doors, meaning you get through that stage quicker, and your frozen stuff gets home still frozen!

Turnstones on the beach - Balranald, North Uist.
How about those "Special offer" "Big Pack - Better Value!" type signages - those have got to be the ones to go for, surely? Well, not always, no. Buy One get One Free offers are great, but ONLY if you will actually use the product before it goes off, or it can be frozen for later use. Sometimes those offers will let you choose the "free" product from a range - salad goods for example that let you have two from a range of produce and the cheapest one comes free, or you can get both for £1. Far more useful than 2 iceberg lettuces! Bigger sized items need careful checking - that 1kg box of cereal is only a good buy at £3 if the 750g packs aren't on BOGOF at £3.20! Look at all the sizes of a product before making your choice, and if necessary get a calculator out and work out the "per g" or "per ml"  cost.  If branded is cheaper than value because of special offers - then buy the branded product - it's not rocket science after all!

So - the value products then - which are worth trying and would you not go near? We find value or cheapy washing up liquids are a complete false economy, and always now buy Fairy. We keep our eyes open for special offers, BOGOF deals etc, and buy only on special offer. The same applies to coffee - MrEH has tried various other brands, but he likes Nescafe - so we stock up when prices are good. Cream crackers - Tesco own brand are nicer, we think, than their pricier Jacobs counterparts, and value fruit and veg is nearly always worth a look - although sometimes the bag sizes mean that again, you need to do the maths around whether you will actually use than many carrots before they go soft and bendy. (If you have freezer space, then carrots make delicious soup, would be my tip!) The best suggestion is to give it a try - if you don't like a particular item you don't have to buy it again, and the good thing about the value ranges is that you're very rarely going to spend a fortune on anything! Over to you then - any recommendations for us?


Ps - yes, random unrelated photos again this week - enjoy!


Scarlet said...

I've been buying Basics products since they were introduced when KL was tiny( she's 18 now). I think most things have been absolutely fine, apart from cereals.Of course they may have improved now, but I've never been tempted to buy them again, and usually just buy Asda's own ( much cheaper than S'bury's own- about 80p cheaper!) I bought Asda Smart Price frozen mixed veg recently - that made fantastic soup!

Robyn said...

Yes, we've stayed away from the cereals too - I did look a while ago at a basics/value muesli type thing and it failed my "ingredients check" quite comprehensively!