Era of cheap food is over?

Tesco boss says cheap food era is over, says the Observer to which I can only say what bloody cheap food?

A year ago I would struggle to spend £40 in order to qualify for non-rip-off delivery charges at Sainsbury’s, or at all at Ocado. Now, I struggle to keep my weekly shop below £60 (and bear in mind I’m a singleton), so I ask again – where the fuck is this cheap food?

OK, I know all the major supermarkets have bargain basements but, with food as with everything else, you get what you pay for and, while I can afford it, quality matters – food is pretty much the only pleasure left in my life.

I do realise that bargain basement products are life-savers for many, and might be for me eventually, but not yet. Sainsbury’s Basics Pork Pies are an exception (as are Tesco Everyday Value versions), along with eggs they are an affordable contribution to my high-protein diet (see previous posts).

But back to the era of cheap food and, along with most people, I’m just not seeing it. I don’t consider low-quality food at a low price to be a bargain – with meat, for example, there’s a huge amount of waste (yes folks, I’ve been poor as an adult and I was born into one of the worst slums in post-war Britain – Ardwick, Manchester), which negates the low price because I have to buy more to get the amount of meat – not fat and gristle, though some fat has its place – that I need.

The list that follows is this week’s shopping list, due for delivery tomorrow. As you can see it contains nothing frivolous, that could be construed as a luxury or a treat, and the total price, including £3.99 delivery, is £ 67.35. Era of cheap food my arse!

Some explanation of what you can see here. The eggs will be pickled in the vinegar, and will contribute to my diet for maybe 10-14 days (not eveyr day though). The beans and spuds are going into DIY ready meals, for which I already have the rest of the ingredients, assuming I’m well enough to cook them (there is some food waste due to the vagaries of my health, which adds to its overall cost). The rest is for immediate use or for stock.

Why 3 pepper refills? Simple, I can’t buy it anywhere else and I shop at Sainsbury’s only occasionally – mostly I shop at Tesco simply because they allow me to choose what substitutes I’ll accept – something they should all do but don’t (maybe Asda does, I don’t know).

Senokot? If you were taking my drugs, you’d buy it in bulk too!

So this is my shopping list, as I said. You will find very few, if any, areas where I could have saved money** – I’ve been shopping and cooking since I was 12, guys, I know my way around a supermarket.

**No, I will not eat Basa or River Cobbler – they are the same crap Vietnamese catfish – because it tastes of bugger all. I mostly eat coley; the cod, I suppose, is a treat – so sue me!

I’ve been shopping online for food since Tesco’s online store came on a CD to be loaded onto your own computer, and to be sluggishly updated every time you logged in. A novice I am not:-

3 x Sainsbury’s Pork Pies, Basics x4 440g – Total Price GBP 3.15

3 x Sainsbury’s A-Z Multivitamins & Minerals Over 50 x30 – Total Price GBP 3.18

3 x Sainsbury’s Vitamin E 400iu x 60 – Total Price GBP 5.98

1 x Sarson’s Malt Vinegar, For Pickling 1.14ltr – Total Price GBP 1.50

2 x Bovril Meat Stock Drink 250g – Total Price GBP 6.40

2 x Clover 500g – Total Price GBP 3.00

1 x Young’s Skinless & Boneless Atlantic Cod Chunky Fillets x4 00g – Total Price GBP 4.00

1 x Birds Eye Harry Ramsden Simply Cod In Batter x4 480g – Total Price GBP 3.99

3 x Schwartz Ground White Pepper Refill 34g – Total Price GBP 5.58

1 x Sainsbury’s Long Life Semi Skimmed Milk 6x1L – Total Price GBP 4.68

1 x Senokot x60 – Total Price GBP 3.80

1 x Sainsbury’s Sleep Aid X60 – Total Price GBP 3.50

3 x Napolina Butter Beans 400g – Total Price GBP 2.00

1 x Sainsbury’s Echalion Shallots 400g – Total Price GBP 1.50

3 x Sainsbury’s Free Range Woodland Eggs Large, So Organic x6 – Total Price GBP 6.30

2 x Sainsbury’s Charlotte Potatoes 1kg – Total Price GBP 3.00

1 x Heinz Baked Beans Fridge Pack 1kg – Total Price GBP 1.80


8 thoughts on “Era of cheap food is over?

  1. How I agree with this, similarly I also have shopped online for years and what cost an average of £50,00 now is topping £80.00; and thats for pretty much the same trolley!!

  2. Ask your GP for the laxative powder, Laxido. It’s what my GP prescribes for me, due to meds constipation. Start off with two a day, and if you need to, you can increase it up to four a day. You can buy it OTC too.

    • Thanks Tricia. The serious constipation of the early days is wearing off – that was pretty worrying – it’s not too bad now. And knowing my GP if I ask for a laxative he’ll stop the drug instead because he’s like that!

  3. Disgusting prices for foods and vitamins – I know that each time we get shopping we still do a sharp intake of breath due to the prices!

  4. Its really scarey how soon it mounts up. We used to have some money left over now we have nowt. I buy my vits at supermarket too. If you have any space I do recommend the amazon subscribe & save scheme. I have things under the bed, as we have no space. Tins of toms butter beans etc, it has provided a meal many times, when we have been broke (£70 vet bill) ouch.

    • Have you calculated whether you’d be better off replenishing your stock at need, rather than by Amazon’s schedule? That way, you might not need to stash it under the bed!

      I had a look at the Amazon scheme and it supplies more than I need on a fixed schedule, which isn’t cost-effective. Like you, I have a stash of cans just in case, which I replace as they get used – if I use three I replace three – whereas Amazon would send a dozen if that’s what I’d signed up for. They still would even if I’d used none. I also rely on a huge fridge-freezer to keep me fed in a crisis, financial or otherwise. I keep it filled – cheaper to run then – and rotate the stock – first in, first out. That way fresh food is always available, some bought, some made by me. Like the cans, stock is replaced at need, not automatically. so I never have to scrabble for space.

  5. I agree with you, food shopping has gone up and up this past year and will no doubt continue to do so.
    One saving I can suggest. I used to buy Schwartz Ground Pepper Refill, but it amounts to around £50 a kilo.
    Amazon sell peppercorns for £9.99 for 2kilo, postage free, with a cheap plastic grinder it lasts me a year. That works out at 83p a month. (I do tend to use it in almost everything though 🙂

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