Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Cost of the Weekly Shop!

The recent VAT increase may have caused all sorts of problems for retailers who are having to alter their prices, but it also appears to have brought a great opportunity for supermarkets to increase their prices across the board.

Each week we visit town, we check out the stores' own basic brands and, without fail, the prices have been climbing steadily. This week, however, there apeared to be a blatant 10% increase! It wasn't difficult to spot, as a friend buys a pack of Sainsbury's sausage rolls as a treat for her dogs: "It's only £1," she normally says, and hands over a coin. But not this time! £1.10 and the need to break a fiver! And for what? A tiny piece of puff pastry wrapped around a minimal amount of sausage meat and rusk, if you're lucky there might be some onion flavouring in there, not that the dogs care. I'm not complaining about this, but I am CONCERNED for those who have HAD to downshift their brands in order to survive. If there's no more money to spare, how will these people afford the increases after having had it so good for so long on the cheap food merry-go-round?

Over Christmas, I received a nifty little set of pasty makers as part of a gift. They're plain, white plastic contraptions, three different sizes, with crimping edges on one side and pastry cutting edges on the other. (By Kleeneze.) The largest will probably be ideal for Cornish-style pasties, the middle one for fruit turnovers and the smallest, as suggested by neighbour, will be great for homemade pasta stuffed with whatever filling the leftovers can provide. I guess you could also use them to make crispy pancakes - like those Findus things we loved as kids but hate as adults - if you wanted to take the time to thinly roll pastry then dip it all in breadcrumbs before frying or baking them. Anyhow, all of this is leading up to the potential to ditch sausage roll buying and, instead, opt for homemade pasties. That's the next experiment to begin in the Frugaldom kitchen!

I'm afraid we seldom buy butter, which is a shame, as I much prefer that on my homemade wholemeal toast to margarine or 'of course that's not butter' spread. But prices have shot through the roof, with a 250g pack hitting £1.50 whilst the store's own basic brand is only 2p short of £1. In saying that, the spreads have practically doubled in price! I would love to be able to use butter for all the cooking and baking but it just isn't possible while sticking to a rigid budget. Butter has become a luxury item and home made isn't an option. I know it is still possible to buy whole milk from registered farms in England, but here in Scotland it is strictly illegal. Looks like cheap spread is the only option and butter reserved for special occasions. It's just as well it freezes, that's all I can say!

Meanwhile, back in the fruit and veg aisle of Aldi, I can buy half a dozen Spanish tomatoes for 39p. It makes me wonder how much the Spanish householders pay for them? Of course, we're all fully aware of loss leaders and, like the milk, the weekly fruit and veg offers in Aldi must be loss leading promotions. I wonder how long it will be before the Government bans such a practice? (Possibly around about the time they want to abolish 'best before' dates on dried or tinned foods.)

This afternoon, I looked out my 2008 accounts and am about to immerse myself in receipts and invoices to calculate the REAL cost of inflation, by way of grocery prices. I've only just glanced at some receipts and am already horrified by what I see, but I won't spoil the surprise. After careful analysis, I'll be back to update the Frugaldom blog, so WATCH THIS SPACE.

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