With the cost of living crisis hitting families hard, and many left choosing whether to “heat or eat”, Manchester Evening News’ Emma Gill decided to test out supermarket budget brands to see which, if any, products were a worthy swap for branded groceries.
Emma headed to supermarket giant Tesco with the objective of doing a full grocery shop that would feed a family of four for the week, but only with food items from Tesco’s budget brands, to see where savings could be made.
She began by comparing the appearance and branding of budget items with regular products.
Emma said: “Unlike other budget ranges – which tend to have nothing more than the words and if you’re lucky a picture on an otherwise plain white label – Tesco’s merge in with the rest of its products. It’s pretty much been that way since the scrapping of its old ‘Everyday Value’ branding and while yes, it might make the items trickier to find, if you’ve got children or another half who might turn their nose up at cheaper brands, chances are they might not notice.”
Most importantly, Emma set out to compare the taste and the prices of the items with what she would usually buy.
She said: “With some of the products I knew what to expect as they’re a regular feature of my Tesco big shop – like the chicken goujons, cheese pizza and tortilla wraps for instance. I mean, why would I pay £1.35 for a pack of branded wraps, when you can get the eight-pack of Nevill’s ones for 75p? It’s not like there’s a huge difference in taste, as it’s more about what you fill it with after all.
“There were lots we hadn’t tried before though and it was like taking a trip back to the 80s with some of the budget products – refreshingly with prices as well as the food. With our chicken Kievs, £1.65 for two, and potato croquettes, just 61p for 700g, all we needed was the Blockbusters theme tune and I would have been right back there eating my tea after school and mithering about what’s for afters.
“And some of those were a blast from the past too. I think I was a bit over excited at the prospect of Angel Delight, 49p a pack, as the reaction from my children was one of pure underwhelm – followed by ‘I don’t like the texture’. Who even are they?”
But she was able to appease her children with plenty of budget-branded sweet items.
She said: “There were lots of treats they did like from Tesco’s Ms Molly’s range, with everything from flapjack traybake and ice cream roll, to milk lollies and trifle. She might not have the status of Mr Kipling, but I’ll take Ms Molly’s prices over his any day of the week.
“The tray of flapjack for instance was just 80p for 360g. That’s less than half the price of Tesco’s £2 pack of flapjack bites (two for £3 with Clubcard) and there’s really no hardship in chopping it up yourself.”
Emma then moved on from desserts and sweet treats to savoury meals.
She said: “There’s plenty to make substantial meals from in its budget ranges, helped by the Aldi Price Matches on some meat and fruit and its cheap-as-chips frozen vegetables, like the 900g bag of broccoli and cauliflower florets for 80p and the 900g bag of Grower’s Harvest garden peas for just 55p.
“Talking of chips, I’d challenge anyone to make a tastier fish, chips and mushy peas any cheaper. With the 1.5kg of Hearty Food Co straight cut for 90p, Growers Harvest British mushy peas 300G for 25p and the Hearty Food Co four breaded fish fillets 600G for £2.39, the meal worked out at around 90p a head.
“The Willow Farm whole chicken, a bargain at £2.89, was enough for a Sunday dinner, and we still had some meat leftover to stick in a curry afterwards.”
However, not all of the budget-brand products were a success, and her children managed to sniff out some of the cheaper items.
Emma said: “My Heinz beans-loving kids were quick to spot the 22p Stockwell & Co baked beans and there’s nothing savvy about chucking away something they won’t eat. I couldn’t persuade them to even try a chicken paste butty and while it’s not something I’ve eaten since, oh here we are with the 80s again, it was actually OK.
“And there were some pleasant surprises too – like the Stockwell & Co teabags, at just 55p for 60, less than half what you’d pay for Tetley or a similar brand.”
Emma’s Tesco budget shopping haul came to a total cost of £72.43. Here is an itemised list:
- Tesco Thin Cut Beef Steaks 395G £3.06
- Woodside Farms 8 Pork Sausages 454G 80p
- Eastmans Wafer Thin Cooked Ham 400G £1.59
- Eastmans Corned Beef Slices 150G £1.11
- Tesco Lean Beef Steak Mince 5% Fat 250G £1.79
- Woodside Farms Unsmoked Back Bacon 300G £1.25
- Willow Farm Whole Chicken 1.2Kg – 1.6Kg £2.89
- Willow Farm Chicken Drumsticks 900G – 1.2Kg £1.73
- Hearty Food Co. 2 Garlic Chicken Kievs 260G £1.65
- Hearty Food Co. Breaded Chicken Goujons 270G £1.49
- Hearty Food Co. 4 Breaded Fish Fillets 600G £2.39
- Hearty Food Co. Garlic Baguette 170G 32p
- Eastmans Brussels Pate 175G 49p
- Growers Harvest Orange Juice Smooth 2L £1.09
- Ms Molly’s Fruit Cocktail Trifle 472G £1.17
- Ms Molly’s Strawberry Trifle (2X115g) 230G 61p
- Hearty Food Co. Chicken T.Masala& Pilau Rice 450G £1.99
- Eastmans Cheese & Bacon Quiche 400G £1.59
- Redmere Farms Green Beans 220G 69p
- Tesco Skimmed Milk 2.272L/4 Pints £1.15
- Creamfields Medium White Cheddar 400G £1.79
- Hearty Food Co. Cheese Pizza 300G 99p
- Tesco Broccoli & Cauliflower Floret Mix 900G 80p
- Hearty Food Co Straight Cut Chips 1.5Kg 90p
- Hearty Food Thin Cheese & Tomato Pizza 314G 66p
- Ms. Molly’s Milk Lollies 8X35ml 85p
- Tesco Chocolate Profiteroles 235G £1.35
- Tesco 12 Potato Waffles 680G £1.30
- Grower’s Harvest Garden Peas 900G 55p
- Ms Molly’s Ice Cream Roll 250G £1.25
- Hearty Food Co 4 Battered White Fish Fillets 500G £1.89
- Hearty Food Co Potato Croquette 700G 61p
- Hearty Food Co 10 Fish Fingers 250G 69p
- Hearty Food Co 10 Cod Fishcakes 500G £1.89
- Hearty Food Co. Chicken Curry With Rice 400G 69p
- Ryvita Crackerbread 200G £1.19
- Tesco Carrots 1Kg 39p
- Rosedene Farms Small Pear Pack 550G 57p
- Bananas Loose 0.795KG 62p
- Rosedene Farms Gala Apples 6 Pack 95p
- Tesco Pineapple Each 75p
- Growers Harvest Peach Slices Syrup 410G 31p
- Ms Molly’s White Chocolate Bar 100G 30p
- Nestle Rolo Multipack 4X41.6G 99p
- Burtons Wagon Wheels Jammies 6 Pack 229G 89p
- Tesco Jam Sandwich Creams Biscuit 150G 39p
- Tesco Fig Rolls 200G 37p
- Tesco Custard Cream Biscuits 400G 41p
- Ms Molly’s 18 Milk Chocolate Digestive Bars £1.25
- Ms Molly’s 8 Chewy Caramel Wafer Biscuits 224G 85p
- Ms Molly’s Flapjack Traybake 360G 80p
- Cheetos Cheese Puffs Snack 6 X 13G 99p
- Angel Delight Strawberry 59G 49p
- Angel Delight Chocolate 59G 49p
- Tesco Assorted Jam Tarts 6 Pack 69p
- Tesco 6 Scotch Pancakes 42p
- Tunnocks Milk Chocolate Teacakes 6X24g 93p
- Ms Molly’s Chocolate Chip Cake Bars 5 Pack 47p
- Stockwell & Co. Rice Pudding 400G 20p
- Hearty Food Co. Curry Sauce 440G 45p
- Stockwell & Co Gravy Granules 200G 30p
- Stockwell & Co Mayonnaise 450Ml 40p
- Stockwell & Co Baked Beans In Tomato Sauce 420G 22p
- Growers Harvest British Mushy Peas 300G 25p
- Grower’s Harvest Chopped Tomatoes 400G (2 x 28p) 56p
- Tesco Tartare Sauce 175G 41p
- Stockwell & Co Chicken Paste 75G 29p
- Hearty Food Co. Spaghetti Pasta 500G 20p
- Warburtons Sliced Sandwich Rolls 12 Pack £1.55
- Hovis Soft White Thick Bread 800G £1.10
- H W Nevill’s Wholemeal Bread 800G 36p
- H.W Nevills 8 Plain Tortilla Wraps 75p
- H.W.Nevills Pain Au Chocolat 8 Pack 95p
- Warburtons Potato Cakes 6 Pack 69p
- Tesco 15 Eggs £1.18
- Stockwell & Co 80 Tea Bags 200G 55p
- Tesco Frosted Flakes Cereal 500G £1
- Stockwell & Co No Added Sugar Double Strength Orange Squash 750Ml 45p
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