Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Cost of the Weekly Shop, Part II.

Further to my previous post about the cost of the weekly shopping

I have been sitting looking at a year's worth of receipts from 2008. They made for very interesting reading, if you like that sort of thing. Sadly, as an avid number cruncher, I get a warped satisfaction out of analysing such things, then challenging myself to beat any apparent 'system'.

The first items looked at were from January 2008 receipts: a small block of cheese priced at £1.74 and a 500g pack of pasta for 20p - today, a small block of cheese costs £2.99 and the cheapest pack of pasta is 49p.

2008 price - £1.94
2011 price - £3.48

Correct me if my arithmetic is wrong, but I make that almost 80% increase overall.

But don't despair... that same month in 2008 it was costing me £1.48 for 2 litres of milk. Today it costs £1!

Sultanas were costing 43p per pack in 2008, (as opposed to a small fortune now) but, "Can't Believe It's Not Butter" was an incredible £1.15 per tub. This week, it's on half price offer at 62p, so not too much difference there.

It seems as though it's butter and cheese that are mopping up the shortfall in milk as a loss leader, so it would appear that general grocery prices are still pretty stabilised, as long as you are prepared to adapt your eating habits to fit your budget.

Cheapest cut of minced beef has increased around 25% but poultry appears to have more than doubled, as have eggs. Flour is creeping up, but nowhere near as quickly as bread, so homebaking is still an option. To me it looks as though it's the huge increase in fuel and utilities prices that affects manufacturing and distribution costs of freshly baked goods - yet another reason why freshly baked at home may be better, especially during cold weather when you need to heat the house anyway.

Within the household chemicals department - washing up liquids, laundry detergents and other similar products - there has been a massive shift, with many products more than doubling in price. Indeed, the supermarkets' basic saver, non-branded products have all but disappeared. (That was my greatest disappointment in 2008 - the final nail in the coffin for 14p washing up liquid.) But fear not, cheap vegetable soap and washing soda are still available for us ardent frugalites who make our own laundry detergent (see earlier post for recipe). What's more, vinegar remains inexpensive if you want that added comfort of softer clothes. They always say white vinegar is best, but I've had no problems using malt - not even staining.

Hot beverages - we were heavy coffee drinkers in the days of 69p instant coffee, but we've found ourselves drinking more and more tea, recently. With coffee now costing about 100% more (for our chosen cheap but drinkable brand) and teabags costing something ridiculous like three for a penny, it's obvious where we're being led in the hot drinks stakes. But fear not! Although non-branded instant hot chocolate may be increasing slowly in price, the fact that you can now buy 100g of fairly edible, dare I say enjoyable, chocolate for around 30p shouldn't be overlooked. Luxury in a cup, right enough, once you grate a square of that over your supper drink. You can even afford the decadence of making it with milk!

Next time you read a sensationalised headline about food prices in a newspaper or magazine, or hear it on the news, don't gasp and quake at the thought of how you are going to manage to feed your family and stay afloat. Stop and ask yourself how you are going to adapt. Prioritise your grocery spends to make the most of these shifting sands as they reshape the way we shop, the way we eat, the way we drink and, even, the way we think about our household budgets. There is no place for brand loyalty in the fight against debt.


  1. Great post, definately food for thought!

  2. Have to agree..back in 08 i was pregnant(again)..hubby was working and money didn't concern me that much..sounds bad doesn't it..but being made redundant has been a blessing in disguise really...prices are shooting up all over the place..our normal shop used to be about £35..i did an online shop not long ago and it was 0ver £50..shocking..so i cancelled it and went shopping myself..as you say brand loyalty is a thing of the past..aldi and lidl are my main shops now..the butcher gets a visit too..don't really need to buy veg as we have 2 allotments and what a godsend they are..got 3 chickens that are laying so that helps..i have cut back and cut back where i can..but still the prices creep up and up..homemade is now my mantra..if i can make it i will..if i have to buy it then i look for the best possible value for money...but sayng all that ..our eating is definately healthier now than it has ever been..

  3. My research shows that best prices and brand loyalty don't go hand in hand. I'm amazed at how many people, when asked, say they buy the most expensive brand because they can - cost means nothing. I guess it's a bit like certain men and their choice of cars. But that's a whole different story. LOL


Many thanks for taking the time to comment. All comments are moderated to help prevent system abuse by spammers, time-wasters and chancers, so your comment will not appear until it has been manually accepted for publishing. This will be done as soon as possible - I check for updates regularly. We are on GMT - London times.