The true cost of switching your supermarket spend

Rebecca Megson-Smith shares her thoughts on the real cost of switching your supermarket spend. Rebecca is an author, writing coach and founder of Ridley Writes. Mum of two small peoples. Over to Rebecca.

Swapping to Aldi or Lidl

Swapping the weekly shop to one of the budget supermarkets feels like a real no-brainer when it comes to finding additional and much needed cost savings.

I’ve shopped at Aldi and Lidl on and off over the years, with differing degrees of success. Ultimately, I’ve always fallen back, quite quickly, to shopping in my comfort zone of Sainsburys.

This summer however, with the renewed motivation only a cost of living crisis can create, I decided to investigate just how much fully moving over to a budget supermarket for my weekly shop could save me. The findings were surprising…

The online experience

I chose Aldi as my alternative supermarket because they offer online shopping with a click and collect service which was the nearest experience I could match to my usual Sainsbury’s home delivery.

The online experience was similar to any other supermarket. The search function was good though there were things on my shopping list for the week that Aldi either didn’t stock or I couldn’t find.

Some of these they simply didn’t have – refried beans and ginger cake for example, or pancetta (I bought bacon lardons instead). Others I knew from past experience it wasn’t worth trying to get the Aldi equivalent – my kids are super fussy about their cereal and annoyingly can spot a non-brand equivalent a mile away.

I didn’t want to risk making a swap on nappies and I found beer was harder to buy because I struggled to identify an equivalent product to the one we’re familiar with. Overall though it felt like I achieved a committed and viable weekly shop.

The numbers

On the surface shopping at Aldi was a total win.

My weekly shop at Aldi was £66.46 plus the £4.99 click and collect service fee, bringing it to a total of £71.45.

The equivalent weekly shop at Sainsburys would have been £85.18 plus the £1.67* delivery charge, bringing it to a total of £86.85.

Once you add delivery charges, the difference on the like-for-like shopping basket was £15.40 which is a whopping 17% saving.

Behind the numbers

It is worth noting the Sainsbury’s order would have been delivered direct to my front door. This would have saved me the petrol expense and the half hour plus travel time for the round trip in the car – with the kids.

Additionally, because Aldi didn’t stock everything I needed, I did also have to pop into Sainsbury’s (on the same trip, with the kids) which cost more in time and money too. All in all, picking up the click and collect and going to a second supermarket for the additional items took nearly an hour and a half out of my day.

Stock Issues

There were a handful of items I bought differently at Aldi because I couldn’t find my usual Sainsburys equivalents.

For example, the brand of beer I normally buy wasn’t available. As I was unfamiliar with the canned golden ales Aldi sold, I bought 4 bottles of branded beer instead. Whilst the beer was 0.67p cheaper in Aldi than it would’ve been in Sainsburys, it was 0.87p more expensive than the beer I normally buy.

I wasn’t able to buy single carrots, white or red onions online at Aldi and therefore I bought much larger packs than usual. Altogether that inflated my weekly shopping spend by £1.95. Overall the alternatives that I couldn’t quite match made my shop at Aldi £3.36 more than would have been the case in my usual shop at Sainsburys.

If you take that overspend off the total saving of £15.40, it does bring the saving of shopping at Aldi down to £12.04 – though that still amounts to an almost 14% saving on my Sainsburys shop.

Wins and Fails

I bought Aldi coffee beans for £1.79 – a total luxury item, but one that felt affordable given the price – and I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the coffee! I’m no connoisseur but it made for a smooth enough cuppa which packed plenty of zing, perfect for a busy mum treat.

The fruit and veg was good too. The apricots for example ripened well and didn’t suddenly go off like lots of fruit seems to do from Sainsburys, however it was all quite short dated. I picked up on Saturday and most items were dated as ‘use by’ the Monday or Tuesday. This might have been a one-off issue but it would be something I’d need to consider carefully going forwards, as I need my weekly shop to last the full week.

Similarly, the bakery bread was okay but I didn’t buy enough of it and it went off quicker than the Sainsbury’s equivalent.

Finally, I didn’t actually buy enough food to last the week! I think there was something about changing over to a supermarket I was unfamiliar with that meant I hung back a bit, even if it was at an unconscious level.

Switching back or going forward?

Ultimately, the savings are there to be made if you have the time and energy to shop around.

Amending the way I shop to include a mix of Aldi and Sainsbury’s – potentially organising a click-and-collect shop from both supermarkets at the same time – could be one way to secure the financial sweet spot between the two.

Fundamentally though the ‘faff factor’ and the amount of time required for me to input two online shops and make two collections isn’t insignificant and will play heavily into my decision making.

*I pay £40 for the 6 month delivery pass, which averaged out weekly breaks down to £1.67

Whilst there were undisputable savings to be made with the Aldi shop I was surprised the saving wasn’t higher. Potentially this is the result of the pressure supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl have had on the major supermarkets to bring their prices down. Sainsbury’s actively highlight their ‘Aldi Price Matches’ all across the store and online too. Equally, what we’re seeing in our shopping trolleys is the real impact of the cost of living crisis: even supermarkets who pride themselves on budget shopping are having to pass some of the cost increases they are facing in the supply chain on to their customers.

Comments from Lynn, Mrs Mummypenny

An interesting take on supermarket switching, which does sightly contradict my personal claims of switching your supermarket to save 40%!

I know I have personally slipped into a combination of Aldi, Tesco and Co-op shopping, and know this is costing me more money. Why have I done this? Lack of time. I can walk to Tesco Express and Co-op, Aldi is a ten-minute drive. I will often pop into Co-op on the school run to pick up milk and essentials.

However, for many years, particular whilst paying off my 16k of debt, I was solely an Aldi shopper, and I ‘got used’ to their products and quirks. My boys are happy with most Aldi alternative products (not the chocolate spread, annoyingly that HAS to be Nutella rather than Nutoka). I also only ever shopped at Aldi, once a week. I refused to take that extra time to shop in Aldi and Tesco. At that time I had much less money and had to save on my shopping bill. Like most people are facing now.

I agree though that the main supermarkets of Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys have pulled through and introduced bargain essential ranges and lower prices, they had to. The pressure from Aldi and Lidl was too much.

DM me on Instagram with any thoughts or question or join my Facebook group for loads more Cost-of-Living content and guidance. With much more content to come from Rebecca too.

Rebecca Megson-Smith is a writer, writing coach and feminist, fuelled by books, tea and time by the sea. You can find her on her website, Instagram @ridleywrites and lurking on Twitter @ridleywrites


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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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