Tightening the belt: The food shop

I should start by saying this post is in no way sponsored by Aldi. I haven’t been paid or given any freebies at all (although maybe I should, come to think of it!).

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d be trying to reduce our weekly food shop. Christmas is coming and, although the goose might be getting fat, my bank account is looking distinctly scrawny.

Well today is payday and my mum kindly gave me a lift to Aldi. I love Aldi. I used to live two minutes’ walk from our nearest store and often popped in there for odd bits and pieces. Now we live much further away. I do make a special trip there very occasionally if they have something particular in stock that I want. Our garden water butt is from there. And last week they had a lot of lovely yarn that I NEEEEEEEEEEDED to buy:

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Anyway, I was curious to see if I could do a whole week’s shopping there (minus our meat, which I buy monthly from the butcher). It’s not a huge store and choice can be limited. I’m not fussy about brand names. I’ll quite happily buy the cheapest own brand of most things (with a few exceptions). But I do sometimes need particular ingredients for things or the kids ask for a certain snack for their lunches. Would Aldi have everything on my list for this week or would I end up having to do an extra shop elsewhere?

I was really surprised! I got pretty much everything I needed, with a few extra treats for the weekend. Where they didn’t have the exact thing I wanted, they did have some close alternatives that I could use instead. I wanted a tin of lentils and a tin of mixed beans. Instead I made do with a tin of kidney beans and one of chickpeas. I was pleased to see they were packed in water, with no added salt or sugar like some budget brands.

The range of fresh fruit and vegetables was really impressive. They had everything I wanted to buy – onions, spuds, cauliflower, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, butternut squash and swede. When it comes to restocking the fruit bowl, I like to see what looks good or what’s on offer. I already had some apples and oranges at home, so chose a lovely punnet of plums and some grapes.

I noticed they stock a lot of “lookalike” products – own brand groceries with packaging that is deliberately very similar to big name brands. So at least the customer knows what they should be getting, I guess. I was particularly pleased to find yoghurt coated dried fruit. This is one of my toddler’s favourite snacks.

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I’m fussy about cereal and found the selection quite limited. I ended up buying honey nut cornflakes; not my preferred choice but it’ll do. I’m also very particular about yoghurts. I like to get the girls either Rachel’s or Plum branded pots, because they are sweetened with fruit juice rather than refined sugar and they don’t contain any nasty artificial sweeteners. I didn’t expect Aldi to have anything close to this so I compromised by getting their double pack of fromage frais. A bit like Petit Filous but only 84p for 12 little pots. It does have sugar listed on the ingredients but also contains real fruit puree and no sweeteners.

I fully expected our shopping to be cheaper than my usual online food shop. After all, we all know that Aldi is cheap and Ocado isn’t (despite being slightly in love with their outstanding customer service). But I wasn’t fully prepared for the final bill – £39.94. That’s AMAZING! I’ve been struggling to keep our normal shop below £80. In fact, my last Ocado delivery was £94.03 (not including the Smart Pass I pay for every six months). Aldi came in at less than HALF the cost! A week of food and groceries for a family of four, coming in at ten pounds per head. Incredible!

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They weren’t on my list this week but I did notice that my preferred brand of shampoo and conditioner wasn’t stocked. Neither was the eco-friendly brand of bedtime pull-ups I buy for my youngest. But at under forty quid, I can afford to do a separate midweek top-up shop at another store and still save money!

So what’s the catch? Without my mum, it takes two buses to get there and then I’d have to try to get the week’s shopping home again with a buggy and a toddler in tow. The bus stop is right outside the shop and only a five-minute walk from my house at the other end. But how do you push a trolley AND a buggy around a supermarket?! Maybe I could take the sling carrier instead? But carrying the shopping as well as a nearly-three-year-old?! Crikey. I guess I could take The Husband and brave it on a Saturday with an extra pair of hands to help. But it’ll certainly be easier to go it alone when the youngest one starts nursery in January…

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16 thoughts on “Tightening the belt: The food shop

  1. therealmrsbash October 25, 2014 at 08:49 Reply

    I’m already a convert to Aldi. Since shopping there (and the odd top up in Asda) over the last 6 months, hubs and I have worked out we’ve saved over £500! Our shopping bill was reaching over £100 most weeks. Now a weeks shop costs around £65! I’m fortunate to have a car to get there. Definitely worth the swap (if you can).

    • The Pie Patch October 25, 2014 at 09:02 Reply

      It’s definitely going to be awkward trying to get there. But even if I paid for a taxi home, I think I’d still he better off!

  2. Henry Jones Junior October 25, 2014 at 08:56 Reply

    excellent post, expecially as it is not sponsored. This shows you were so genuinely impressed that you chose to write off your own back. You should tag them on twitter though. Really like the picture of the receipt, I thought I was making good savings with Ocado but this is even better. In my position, this really helps me.

    • The Pie Patch October 25, 2014 at 09:05 Reply

      Thanks for commenting! I do love Ocado and if it’d just been a few quid cheaper, I probably wouldn’t be too fussed. But with savings like this, it’s hard to convince myself to stick with the more expensive option!

  3. Amanda Jaggard October 25, 2014 at 09:10 Reply

    We have it a go last month after post holiday skint-ness. I hate shopping of any form but our nearest store was quite quiet and we saved a fortune. So much so we went back this month and will do right up until Christmas at least. Quality of food has been good and I can recommend their jars of curry with the dried spices in the lid separately. There were a few bits that I couldn’t get as our store is only small and a few bits I didn’t like when we tried them last month so I still topped up at sainsburys but even by doing that we saved around £50/60 for the months food! Just not sure I will have the patience to be able to continue to actually go instore to shop when heavily pregnant or once baby arrives.

    • The Pie Patch October 25, 2014 at 09:24 Reply

      Oof, don’t blame you not wanting to do it with a big bump. It’s stressy enough with no car & a toddler! But the savings are just too huge to ignore. I’ll have a look at the curries next time I go!

  4. Sarah October 25, 2014 at 09:37 Reply

    Lidl’s stock Rachel’s yoghurts! Is that even more of a pain to get to? (& I know it’s quite hit and miss about what’s actually in stock)

    I don’t have an Aldi close by, but I have a Lidl ten minutes away. The frozen party food was great last xmas. I might cancel that bit of my Ocado xmas order (I have 2 deliveries scheduled Christmas week – 2!) and take my trolley there.

    • The Pie Patch October 25, 2014 at 09:51 Reply

      I do love a frozen party pack! Lidl would be just as awkward to get to because it isn’t right on the bus route. To get the maximum savings you’d have to split the shopping between several supermarkets but quite frankly, even as a stay-at-home mum, who has the time or patience for that?!

  5. Christy Golding October 25, 2014 at 09:58 Reply

    were nowhere near an aldi or lidl…but only spend £40-50 a week at tesco anyway. Theyre really good at sending money off coupons.
    Nice to see youve saved money x x

  6. tinabakesbread October 25, 2014 at 12:22 Reply

    Since I don’t live anywhere near you I can’t comment as to the individual stores but I completely understand shopping different places for better deals. We go one place for a butcher shop apart from a grocery store as it saves us at least $50 per month.

    I don’t know if this is possible but maybe there is someone (friend or relative) who you could combine trips to this store? Good savings you got there.

    • The Pie Patch October 25, 2014 at 19:01 Reply

      None of my family shops there regularly & I don’t want my mum to feel like a taxi service. But I’m determined to get there. The savings are too good to ignore!

  7. Louise Houghton October 25, 2014 at 18:53 Reply

    I do my main shop at Aldi every week. I love it! I love so many things as well as the price. Choritzo, special ice cream, washing detergent.

    • The Pie Patch October 25, 2014 at 18:57 Reply

      I’m going to try hard to get there & back every week. I’m already making my list for time! Thanks for commenting.

  8. Sarah October 26, 2014 at 21:05 Reply

    I plan on getting an old fashioned shopping trolley should I ever have a second child as have vivid memories of carrying my little girl in her wrap with more bags hanging from my hands than my blood vessels could cope with.

    Plus, at some point we’ll go the way of Wales and charge for plastic carriers, which I try and avoid collecting anyway. I’m hoping that’ll make it more socially acceptable to use a trolley :D.

    • The Pie Patch October 26, 2014 at 21:17 Reply

      I thought about doing that, Sarah. I already have resuable shopping bags & lots of people have those shoppers on the buses round here so I wouldn’t really be embarrassed. It’s more unusual for someone to carry a toddler on their back than to have a wheely shopper! But where do you put the trolley while you’re pushing the supermarket trolley round the shop? And why can’t I just have an extra set of hands – it’d make life a lot easier! 😉

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