Sunday, 23 September 2012

£100 challenge: week 3 & budget food shopping

Monday: £19.84 groceries (see below)
Tuesday: £12.20 petrol
Wednesday: Nothing
Thursday: £13.00 for meal & cinema ticket deal at Phoenix
                £3.60 pint of cider
                £5.00 entry into my friend's gig
Friday: Nothing
Saturday: £4.95 hair dye
               £1.99 Christmas present
               £15 two CDs from HMV (the new Grizzly Bear & Fiona Apple albums)
               £10 lunch in Firebug
               £5 evening drinks in the pub, plus a play on the quiz machine
Total: £89.06

Over the past couple of weeks it's become clear to me that I spend too much on my grocery shopping: even while working on a restricted budget, it's been making up between £30 and £40 of my weekly £100 limit, and if I wasn't doing the challenge, I would usually spend well over £50 a week.  That might not sound like too much for those of you who shop for a couple or a family, but for just one person it's quite a significant amount.  So after reading this post on the blog A Thrifty Mrs, I decided to try doing my weekly shop at Aldi, to see if that made a difference.  I do visit Aldi quite a bit, but usually only for specific things (their lemon & coriander couscous is amazing).  I've never attempted to do my weekly shop there, partly out of habit and partly because I didn't think I'd find everything I needed there.

I didn't have a long list, but I needed quite a lot of fresh fruit and veg, some bits and pieces for packed lunches, and a few basics like eggs, mince and tinned vegetables.  When I got home I used the Tesco website to check their prices, as that's where I usually shop.  The results?  My Aldi shop came to £19.84 for eighteen items.  The equivalent items from Tesco would have cost £29.71.  I have to admit, I was surprised that the difference was so significant.  I tend to think, "oh, it's only 9p more expensive, that's not much" but it turns out all those small amounts - plus a few really significant savings on the meat, cereal bars and crisps - all add up.

I was impressed that I could get organic, free range and fair trade food at Aldi, which had always been one of my excuses for not shopping there.  For example, their organic & fair trade bananas were half the price of the Tesco pack.  However, the fact that most of Aldi's fruit and veg is sold in packs isn't ideal if you live alone: I didn't really want or need a whole bag of carrots (although now I've got them, I am eating loads to try not to waste them, so maybe it's a good way to eat more of my 5 a day!).  One thing that is definitely helpful at Aldi is that, because there's not a massively wide choice, the temptations are less.  Best items on the list?  Aldi's Camembert, which was absolutely delicious, and the Australian Chardonnay.  Their Pringles-alike crisps weren't quite the same, though, and the chilli mix wasn't hot enough for my tastes.  But overall I was very impressed: I'll definitely be doing my weekly shop at Aldi more often in future.