Fuel bills are soaring to unprecedented levels and, with war in Ukraine an added factor, it seems every time we visit the supermarket these days, every day items are rising in price by not just a penny or two, but 10, 15 or even 20 pence, or more.
So having been regular shoppers the likes of Tesco and Sainsburys for years now, with the respective Clubcard and Nectar loyalty schemes always welcome to provide a little saving here and there – once points are accumulated from spending, of course – we decided to have a go and see what we could save on a visit elsewhere.
We opted for Aldi in Wesham, the chain which styles itself ‘Britain’s Best Value Supermarket’, and as such appears to be the yardstick by which other supermarkets gauge their prices. Tesco and Sainsburys, and others, make a big play these days ot highlighting ‘Aldi price match’.
How much in terms of household essentials we could obtain for £20 was the challenge and I have to admit, only ever having been inside Aldi for the odd item before, I was quite impressed.
I managed to buy 22 items for £20.11, with the top value winner being a tin of baked beans, own brand and labelled essential, for just 22p. These days, a tin of the best-known brand of those in a usual supermarket we use has just hit £1, although their own brand is on the shelves for substantially less.
A tin of peas and a loaf of bread were picked up for 36p each, soup for 45p, a jar of marmalade for 49p and jam for 67p.
Five hundred grams of pasta was just 59p, a tin of tuna 69p and 160 tea bags just over £1. A massive 650g bottle of tomato ketchup came in at just 69p and eight sausages were a very reasonable £1.35, with six rashers of bacon also under £2.
There is a good array of fresh fruit and veg but we opted for a bag of carrots at just 24p and a bag of baby potatoes for 95p. A 1kg bag of rice was also under £1.
The biggest challenge was a packet of Corn Flakes. Invariably, with the majority of items, the best tip is to go for ‘own brand’ items, which are usually substantially cheaper that the more well-known names.
In the case of most breakfast cereals on the shelves on our visit to Aldi, own or unfamiliar branding appeared to be available, but not as far as corn flakes were concerned and the only size of the very familiar Kellogg’s variety set us back £1.99.
Toilet rolls was another items which proved rather a frustration, with the best deal I could find was four rolls for £1.59. I honestly I’ve done better with those at our usual shopping destinations, with nine rolls currently available for just over £2.
In all cases, however, the familiar and unfamiliar brands appear on the shelves alongside each other, so it is easy enough to compare and contrast before choosing which one to go for, but I have to admit, as a very rare visitor, I was a little confused with the pricing layout on the shelves at first.
Unlike other supermarkets we use, the prices appear above the items rather that below and that caused hesitation and the odd double take on more than one occasion early in the visit.
It was easy enough to get around and browse, though, with the items laid out logically enough, with fruit and veg close to the entrance, bread next and chilled items on the back and far side walls.
Aldi is of course, as famous for its ‘middle aisle’ temptations of all sorts of random items as it is for its Kevin The Carrot Christmas character, but we resisted a look there on this visit, with the objective a value shop of essential items.
The service at the checkout was friendly and brisk – so brisk that I could see the virtues of the advice offered by regular Aldi shoppers to pop your items back in the trolley and bag up on the shelf at the back rather than try to do it at the checkout. Speed, as with value, appears to be of the essence.
It’s a ‘no frills’ experience, compared to other supermarkets, with no customer service I could see and, notably, for someone who still enjoys browsing reading matter of a shopping trip, no newspapers or magazines on sale, never mind books, but if it helps keep costs down, good on them.
The absence of any automated tills was also notable, but the key upside of that if course is that it means jobs for till operatives – and every time a new branch opens, which still appears to be the case as Aldi expands, more employment opportunities to help the economy.
I was impressed with what I got for £20 on my first major shopping trip to ‘Britain’s best value supermarket’ and might well make it a more regular destination as rising prices continue to affect us all.
The 22 items Tony bought for a total of £20.11 were:
Blackcurrant cordial 1 litre £1.09
Toilet tissue 4-pack £1.59
Orange juice 1 litre 75p
Baked beans 420g 22p
Tin gardens peas 36p
Tomato Ketchup 650g 62p
Loaf of bread 36p
Tin of tuna 69p
Easy cook rice 1kg 95p
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 500g £1.99
160 tea bags £1.09
500g penne pasta 59p
Six rashers back bacon £1.99
Long life milk 59p
Marmalade 454g 49p
Eight pork sausages £1.35
Coffee gold roast 200g jar £2.29
Tin chicken and mushroom soup 45p
Strawberry jam 454g 67p
Baby potatoes 1kg 79p
Six gala apples 95p
500g bag of carrots 24p