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PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 March 2017

Could swapping supermarkets cut Sheena Grant's food spending?

Could swapping supermarkets cut Sheena Grant’s food spending?

Archant

According to a What-type-of-shopper-are-you quiz I’ve just taken on the BBC’s Eat Well for Less website, I’m a bargain hunter, writes Sheena Grant,

This is something of a relief. After several months, if not years, of trying to live more thriftily I would have been disappointed if I’d fallen into any other category, especially as the possibilities on offer were ‘throw away’, ‘convenience shopper’, ‘impulse buyer’ and ‘stuck in a rut’.

The website, which accompanies a TV programme of the same name where presenters Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin endeavour to help families save money, sort food facts from food fiction and, well, eat well for less, shows there’s a big appetite (pun intended) out there for cutting food bills.

With good reason too. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average household spends more than £83 on food and (non-alcoholic) drink a week. And with food prices predicted to rise this year because of the post-Brexit referendum weaker pound, things are only likely to get worse.

The reason I decided to take the Eat Well for Less quiz was because I’ve worked hard to save money on food shopping and still it’s one of my biggest expenditures.

I plan meals, make a list, use up or freeze leftovers, don’t buy big-name brands and don’t fall for supermarket promotions masquerading as ‘bargains’. Yet still my weekly spend is around the ONS average, which, in my book, is too high for a thrifty shopper.

Eat Well for Less didn’t really give me any more idea of where I’m going wrong. It suggested working out the best value products by comparing prices per 100g; being selective when buying promotions and cooking and freezing bargain fresh ingredients – all of which I already do.

So this week, I have come up with my own plan to eat well for less.

It’s been a two-pronged attack that began with my main weekly shop. Instead of going to my local supermarket I headed to one of the bargain retailers. My shop came to £50.56, around £15 less than I usually spend. And I was pleased with the quality of produce on offer, especially the fruit and veg, the bakery and deli goods.

Some things cost roughly the same, others were a few pence cheaper but some involved big savings – fish was roughly half the price I usually pay.

The second strand of my saving plan involves the number of ‘top-up’ supermarket trips I make. So far this week, instead of making two or three of those trips I’ve made just one – and, crucially, stuck to buying the basics I went in for without adding any tempting ‘extras’.

As a comparison, I plan to do cost up the same shop at my usual supermarket this week and see how the total compares. I’ll let you know how it goes.

• Thanks to readers who responded to last week’s column about my call from ‘Mr Microsoft’. Richard Tingey says he too had a recent call from ‘Mr Microsoft’. “Unfortunately I was in too much of a hurry to listen to his dribble about all the terrible malware he’d found on my computer,” says Richard.

Roger Fleming says he has not been bothered by such calls recently as BT filters incoming calls.

Peter Byrne, meanwhile, usually tells ‘Mr Microsoft’ he doesn’t have a computer, before putting the phone down. On one occasion, however, the caller turned nasty and made threats. “These people play on the vulnerable,” says Peter. “I would urge everyone to ignore calls from unavailable or international callers.”

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