The weekly food shop is something dreaded at the best of times and now with the cost of living crisis meaning products are at an all time high, it’s horrendously stressful, especially for those struggling to make ends meet.
With energy bills and council tax rising, the cost of fuel extortionate and other bills pricier than ever before, everyone is trying to cut back. One of the best ways to do it is to look at shopping habits and see where it is possible to save money.
I’m well aware I’m fortunate. I’m not living on the breadline, I can pay my bills and have money left over. I’m also shopping for only two people, meaning my total cost is drastically scaled back compared to most. So when I went to purchase my Asda shop, I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who would be looking to feed a full family and who would be looking to create full meals to last from a budget range.
Read more: Asda launching cheaper Just Essentials range and axing Smart Price to help shoppers save cash
Plenty of people still turn up their noses at the idea of the cheap ranges but haven’t actually ever tried them. For things such as Smart Price’s pasta and rice, it’s something I’ve always purchased as the vast quantities can last my household for weeks on end. As far as I’m concerned there’s no difference in taste between brands of pasta and rice and they’re such a cupboard staple, it makes sense.
There’s a reason the likes of Asda Smart Price and Morrisons Savers have soared in popularity and customers flock to supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl. The value for money can not be denied and the longevity of the products due to size is great. I got 30 items and did not even spend £ 30, meaning most of the items were less than £ 1. But my heartbreak came from what was actually on offer.
I aimed to buy food that I could create whole meals with, all within the Smart Price range. That did not go to plan. I was able to get the essential items that would form the base of a meal – a humongous bag of porridge oats for breakfast, pasta and rice to bulk out dinner. I could get a few sauces for a Bolognese and for a curry. The Bolognese sauce was perhaps not the best but it was nice enough and made a meal.
I could get tinned veg in the range – I tried to stick exclusively to Smart Price but it is worth noting Asda offers a slightly different veg range, similar to Morrisons’ Wonky veg. You can get 2.5kg potatoes for 91p and 1.5kg for 45p, which are all pretty reasonable and similar in cost to stores like Aldi. Tinned wise, I was able to get carrots, sweetcorn and peas and while I was not really a fan, I was able to get part of my 5-a-day in.
What are your thoughts on the budget ranges on offer? Let us know in the comments.
The big bags of veg do expire quickly and for a family looking to make that shop last, that could pose quite a challenge. A big sticking point was the offer of meat.
There are cheaper options like chicken breasts costing £ 3.38 for a large 620g pack and 300g of bacon for £ 1.25. But when I went for my shop – on a Wednesday, around midday – there were not any of the cheaper options available.
The same was true for the veg. Instead, for chicken you’d be looking at spending over £ 5 for a pack that wouldn’t feed an entire family. I was able to get some cooked chicken pieces, usually used for sandwiches but this Smart Price product still cost £ 1.99.
There was a lot more on offer for the frozen sections. Chicken nuggets were available for 85p, fish fingers on offer for 69p and some frozen burgers for £ 1.50. Quick and easy meals but one glaring point stuck in my mind.
The government is concerned about the rise in obesity and health complications, so much so they’ve rolled out a requirement for restaurants to put calories on the menu. Frozen items like chicken nuggets or burgers are not the healthiest.
They’re not fresh and neither are tinned vegetables. Those on a tight budget will have no choice but to go for the cheapest option and I could easily picture a stressed out mum, looking for the best thing to feed her kids and wanting to avoid the oven food, being left disappointed.
For those customers who wanted to avoid meat and try the vegetarian options available, products like Quorn or tofu are well out of price range. I did also look for some sweet treats – a luxury I’m fortunate enough to afford. Strawberry trifles, which actually tasted pretty good, cost just 85p and some tinned peaches cost 20p.
However cheese, which many actually consider a staple, costs £ 3.65. It was a sizeable block and should last a while.
Going for the Smart Price products absolutely makes sense. It was a massive money saver as going for branded versions of those products would cost well over double that.
Without a doubt, it’s a life line for families and for those struggling. The reason I felt disheartened was in no way Asda’s fault.
They’re offering a brilliant range that is great. Not everything jam packed full of flavor but good enough and saved me my hard-earned cash.
It’s got to be remembered that actually, it’s still hard for these supermarket giants to be able to offer all products at these cheap prices. They’re a business and the crisis causing the hike in expenses is hitting them too.
I’m definitely intrigued by their plan to ax Smart Price and replace it with Just Essential. They’re hoping to make it a bigger and better value range which means plenty more options for consumers.
My heartbreak came from the fact that even buying from the Smart Price range would not be enough for customers to have a full shop with everything they need or wanted, like fresh fruit and veg or meat. If £ 20 is all that’s left over for the month – which for quite a few people, it is – the cost of living crisis has made things near impossible.
My Smart Price breakdown
- Toilet roll – £ 1.93
- Garlic bread – 32p
- Biscuits – £ 1.25
- Tinned peas – 21p
- Quiche – £ 1.35
- Cooked chicken breast pieces – £ 1.99
- Pasta sauce -39p
- Baked beans x2 – 44p
- Soup X2 – 48p
- Peanut Butter -85p
- Squash – 41p
- Porridge oats – 75p
- Carrots – 20p
- Mild curry sauce – 28p
- Tinned peaches -20p
- Tea bags – 28p
- Pasta – 29p
- Spaghetti – 20p
- Rice – 45p
- Frozen chicken nuggets – 85p
- Fish fingers – 69p
- Macaroni cheese – £ 1.18
- Frozen burgers – £ 1.50
- Plain flour – 45p
- Coffee – 75p
- Tinned tomatoes – 28p
- Strawberry trifles – 85p
- Cheese – £ 3.65
- Tinned sweetcorn – 35p
- Fresh orange – 69p