Have your food bills been on the increase as of late? The price of our supermarket shopping seems to be on the rise! From staple goods and cupboard fillers to frozen goods and fresh foods, the price we pay is slowly creeping up, penny by penny. A one pound increase on your usual shop might not sound like much but over the course of a year that could be £52 extra you’re paying. If products are going up by 10% each and the average weekly grocery bill for a family of 4 in the UK is £99, that’s almost an extra £10 a week on your bill! As one of the well-known supermarkets says, every little helps. Every little bit that you can keep in your pocket rather than putting into the pocket of the supermarket benefits you and your family. Let’s look at how you can downshift at supermarket shelves to save some cash.
What is Supermarket Downshifting?
Big supermarket brands generally stock 4 different levels of products:
Premium brand – These are the luxury (and oftentimes organic) brands such as Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference.
Manufacturers brand – The ones we see advertised everywhere Kellogs, Walkers, Heinz
Supermarkets own brand – The supermarket’s own version of the manufacturer’s brands, thins like Asdas Chocolate Digestives.
Value products – This is the no-frills basic packaging, things like Asda Smart price beans
The main difference between all these levels of products isn’t the quality or the taste a lot of the time, it’s just the price! They will differentiate the packaging and try to make them more expansive versions look fancier (there is a whole science to what colours to use to make something look more expensive and enticing!) but most of these products will be made in the same factories with the same machines and with the same ingredients.
The idea of supermarket downshifting is that when you next go grocery shopping you ‘step down’ a level from the product you usually get, so if you always get Walkers multipack crisps try switching down to the supermarkets own brand multipack crisps- chances are you won’t notice a difference taste-wise but it could make a BIG difference to your bill.
Where Do You Shop?
Firstly, you need to figure out where you can shop to save yourself money. If you shop at high-end supermarkets you’ll likely be spending more than you need to. Think about the food that you buy at these shops. If you’re spending £3 on a packet of dried pasta at one supermarket, you can probably get the same dried pasta somewhere else for a lot less. This is a downshift at supermarket shelves which can save you some money. You need to make your money work for you and get the maximum food for your cash. Check the per 100g price which is an easy way to see how much you’re paying. Budget supermarkets are getting ever more popular and other supermarkets are realising that by price matching.
Secondly, supermarkets are set out to persuade us to buy stuff. Stuff we don’t necessarily need. Supermarkets buy in products, put them on their shelves at a markup to make their money, pay their staff and create profits for the company. This is business. However the amount they charge extra varies from supermarket to supermarket and product to product. Bright colours and eye-catching prices can tempt you in. Discounts aren’t always actually that good. If you want one packet of something and there is a 3 for 2 offer on, you might be tempted by it. However, you’ve then spent double what you wanted. This leads to overspending and even food waste.
Own Brand Products
Whilst branded goods are often seen as superior, there can actually be very little difference compared to some of the own-brand products. In fact, some of them are made and manufactured in the same place! However, you’ll notice massive price differences on branded and own-brand products. Consider that Kellogg’s have a marketing budget to pay for, the price will be pumped up for their goods in order to pay for that. Whilst Tesco do have a marketing budget, it’s not specifically on their own brand cereal. It’s often a vastly cheaper option and the product is near identical! Start a downshift at supermarket from brand to own brand and you’ll save money on your weekly shop.
The Best Downshift Items To Try
We asked some fantastic bloggers for their top product downshifts. Let’s have a look at what they said;
Cupboard & Pantry
- I always used to buy Paxo dried stuffing for our roast dinners, but one day I decided to try the supermarket own brand and discovered it didn’t;t take any different. Then I bought the savers range and realised they all taste the same! Now I only ever buy the savers version (doesn’t matter what supermarket) and only pay around 30p instead of just over £1. Angela – exploringdorset.co.uk
I switched from Tilda brown basmati rice to own brand (Tesco and Asda) and have had no issues. The Asda one is about a third of the cost of Tilda! Jeff – thesavvyscientist.com
- We swapped Dolmio for Asda’s own brand tomato sauce and it saves us well over £1 a jar and we just add a little garlic and onion powder and it is just as tasty. Becky – eatsimply.co.uk
I am a big fan of Aldi and Lidl brands and have my favourites between them. I use Aldi ketchup, their spice cap and sauces, porridge, fruit, frozen vegetable pouches and fajita dinner kits. Lidl for me is the winner for dark chocolate, cereals, black pudding, bread, hash browns, coffee, bolognese sauce, fresh meat, fish and crisps (says a lot about my diet!). My local Lidl often has 30% off many items with one day left on ‘use by’. In addition to their app, the savings do add up. I like browsing through the Middle Eastern and Asian supermarkets on a stroll to my local Lidl to get unusual things you can’t find anywhere else at a fraction of the main supermarket prices. Scott – thegrumpygit.com
- I’ve been baking mad since I was a child and loved experimenting with the recipes in my mum’s Bero book. As such, I was very much loyal to the Bero brand. However, more recently, I have been trying to reduce my outgoings and switched to the much cheaper flour available in Lidl, and I honestly don’t think you can tell the difference at all. Vicki – blossomeducation.co.uk
- I have been buying herbs and spices from our local ethnic grocery store. They are a lot cheaper and you can often get the quantity you need and cooking tips as a bonus. Anne – theplatinumline.blog
- I wholeheartedly recommend Tesco’s ‘Hearty Food’ spaghetti (the long pasta, not the stuff that comes in tins!). I have taste tested it against the more expensive brands and none of us can tell the difference. It’s just 20p for 500g, while the premium brands are £1.20-£1.50 for the same amount. This means 6/7 packs for the price of one! Nikki – bestbrunchorbreakfast.com
- I consistently buy wheat biscuits (instead of Weetabix), because I honestly can’t taste the difference and neither can my little boy. I purchase value chopped tomatoes too; they do tend to contain more water, but once cooked I don’t notice, as I use the tins as an ingredient in flavoursome dishes such as curry, chilli and bolognese. Claire – staposthriftylifehacks.co.uk
- I pretty much downshift with everything. I found we save most on cereals as the brands are so expensive these days and Lidls brands are a 3rd of the cost. I also buy all the pasta sauces unbranded as again, they are so much cheaper. Downshifting has saved our family around £60-£100 a month. Definitely worth shopping around. Lynne – theswaneffectmum.com
- I downshift absolutely loads of foods. So many value products are no different. The main staples such as cereals, Pasta, and Rice are the main ones I always buy value. Claire – moneysavingcentral.co.uk
- I always downshift to tinned products (tomatoes and baked beans) and also I’m a fan of own brand washing up liquid, the performance seems just as good. William – GreatDealsMadeEasy.com
- I pretty much shifted everything to Aldi or Lidl own brands, with no complaints from me or anyone else. Their breakfast cereals, bread, tinned products, loo roll, toiletries and cleaning products are all as good as anything branded in my opinion. Jane – shoestringcottage.com
Lidl’s Crownfield Low Sugar Granola looks very similar to Lizi’s Granola, but is a fraction of the price. (Oats at 75p/kg are still cheaper, so you can always make your own). Their J.D. Gross chocolate brand, Bellarom ground coffee, Maribel peanut butter (no palm oil), and lactofree/plant-based milks are significantly lower in price without compromising on quality. I could go on, but there’s only so many mealtimes in one day! Bear – savelikeabear.co.uk
- I downshifted brands many years ago apart from 2 things. Marmite and Branston pickle. I resisted and resisted until my daughter (I taught her well!) told me to try Asda own brand Marmite – revelation! Since then I’ve downshifted both Marmite and Branston to own brands. Saves me a pretty penny every month. Emma – tuppennysfireplace.com
Fridge & Freezer
- We absolutely love Lidls slightly spiced potato wedges. They’re around half the price of a branded version and so much nicer. Lyndsey – adventuresbeginathome.com
- Tesco value garlic bread is accidentally vegan, only costs 30p and is so good! My friend was paying £2 for dairy-free garlic bread until I told her this little tip. Jenni – chooseveganism.org
- I love Lidl’s quiche my kids complain if I buy any other! Clare – theorganizeruk.com
- We’ve just got a Lidl near my house so I’m enjoying testing all the downshifts! I’ve been really impressed by the Deluxe Gourmet Yoghurt range – quite a bit cheaper than ‘The Collective’ equivalent yoghurts from other supermarkets. (Approx £1.89 depending on where vs £1.39). Dan – thefinancialwilderness.com
Snacks & Treats
- Biscuits are one of my favourite things to buy own-brand. I swapped McVitie’s Dark ChocolateDigestives for Asda own brand and they taste great. I’m also obsessed with their own brand chocolate bourbons, 33p for 300g and vegan too! Jo – youngfunandthrifty.com
I’ve got a sweet tooth and thought Nestle Milky bars buttons were the only white chocolate buttons worth buying though all supermarkets own brand buttons are delicious. David – moneyformonday.com
I switched from Kettle Chips to Co-Op’s Sea Salt & Chardonnay Wine Vinegar crisps. If you’re someone who loves the burn of intense salt and vinegar crisps, these are the ones for you (and usually at half the price of Kettle Chips too!) Steph – fundingherfreedom.com
Lidl Milbona Greek yoghurts are so lush and more than half the price of some of the expensive ones you can get. The strawberry ones are so good too!!!! Annabel – annabelwrites.com
I loved Nakd bars but not their price (£2.49 for 140g). Then I discovered Aldi Paleo bars which are the same but cheaper and the pack is also bigger (£1.99 for 225g) Jennifer – monethalia.com
I much prefer Aldi’s version of Cornettos to the real thing. Both the Choc and nut and the strawberry are much nicer! Josie – methemandtheothers.com
- I shop almost exclusively in Aldi. I have downshifted almost every grocery item we buy at this stage. Favourites include their chocolate brand, Choceur. I love my chocolate and I’d choose this Aldi brand over the main brands every time. The brand is cheaper but the taste is fantastic. For similar quality and quantity, I reckon I’m saving half by buying Choceur from Aldi. Ruth – mrshawkinshouse.com
- Lidl magnum style ice creams, no need for branded when these taste just as good! Katie – awaywithkatie.com
- We always used to have Heinz ketchup, but my kids got through it like there’s no tomorrow. I switched to supermarket’s own and nobody noticed the difference and it costs less than half the price. Pete – householdmoneysaving.com
- I love Co-op’s own Mayo and their ketchup. I honestly think it’s more flavourful than the branded stuff! Jenny – Mummysavermoneymaker.co.uk
- Lidl mayonnaise!! A fraction of the cost of Hellmans and equally as good! Kimi – mindandmoneycoaching.co.uk
- We swapped all our toiletries for Aldi Lacura products like their Head and Shoulders and Listerine mouthwash dupes. I also have sensitive skin so tried their cheaper version of Simple face wash and have honestly never looked back, we’ve saved a small fortune! Collette – Cashbackcollette.co.uk
- Washing Powder is something we downshifted on and saved loads! The branded stuff is a fortune and the supermarket equivalent offers huge savings with the same outcome – clean clothes! Joe – MoneySavingSuperhero.com
- I am a bit of a tonic snob and have found Aldi’s Ridge Valley tonic water cans are my favourite! Saves me a fortune too! Melanie – bestthingstodoincambridge.co.uk
- We go through sooooo much soya milk. I switched from Alpro to own-brand, saving £35 per month! Ruth – moneysavvymumuk.com
- The Lidl fizzy bottles of orange and tropical flavoured drinks are great, taste the same as the branded ones if not better. Katie – awaywithkatie.com
- I’ve swapped my fancy bottles of New Zealand sauvignon blanc to a bottle made in collaboration with Tesco, called Wairau Cove. It’s just as good as the wines I used to pay £12 or £15 for – in fact, I prefer it – and only costs £7 (£6 when they’re discounted). Best bargain ever (and it means I get to drink more wine, right?)! Jacqui – jacquipaterson.com
- Lactose-free skimmed milk! Our Tesco only stocks Arla brand at £1.40 a carton, which is painful when I only pay 55p for skimmed UHT for hubby. We’ve now swapped to Lidl and their Dairy Manor brand at 80p a carton. It’s not UHT so has to be kept in the fridge but there is zero taste difference. Chantele – twoheartsoneroof.com
- Teabags – I prefer Asda own-brand tea bags to any branded ones. So much cheaper too! Paula – mummyvswork.co.uk
- When my first daughter was born, I wanted the ‘best’ so she started out on Pampers nappies and SMA formula. This time around my second born is Mamia (Aldi) everything. The nappies are less than half the price of Pampers…and you get more in the pack. And Mamia formula is £6.79 for 900g versus £10+ for 800g SMA. Katie – katiesaves.com
As you can see, there are loads of ways to downshift at the supermarket shelves in order to save yourself money. Whilst we, as shoppers, get marketed to and made to think we need specific products, one of the best things you can equip yourself with is a list and a budget. Why not try a Supermarket Downshift Challenge – Stick to the items on your list, Stay on budget and you’ll have a handle on your supermarket shopping before you know it.