Tag Archives: Aldi

Should you ever buy branded groceries?

I quite enjoy the adverts on TV for Aldi, where they compare an expensive brand of coffee, tea or whatever with their own version. The message is that theirs is just as good, but cheaper!

When I initially started trying to save money on my grocery shopping the first thing I did was dump the brands wherever I could. I tried all of the supermarket basics first. Some we liked and some we didn’t. Value/Smart Price baked beans were a definite no-no, unless included in a veggie stew. Loo rolls didn’t last as long but were worth buying as they were so much cheaper. Value bacon may not look as good but it tastes pretty similar. The kids ate the biscuits even if they didn’t arrive in fancy packaging. I now wouldn’t dream of buying anything other than a basic fruit juice either.

Where we didn’t enjoy the basic products, I moved up to supermarket own brand. Most we liked, but occasionally we still resorted to a branded product.

With the advent of the discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, the situation has improved even more. Most of their own products are very good quality and as cheap or even cheaper than the old style shop own brands. I have found them to be better overall. 

I might consider something from a range such as a Tesco Finest if it is on offer but I have found some of these are disappointing. I think they are a marketing ploy and another way to squeeze a bit more money out of their customers. 

Generally speaking if I buy a brand it is because 1. I really like it more than the alternatives (such as my Millicano coffee mentioned in yesterday’s blog post) or 2. It is a really good price. I don’t need to pay for a company’s expensive branding – they pay marketing people a lot of money to work out how to make us spend our wages. I bet at least half the time if people did a blind test to decide which product was branded and which was a supermarket’s own brand they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So, if you really want to save money on your groceries chuck out the brands and try some supermarket own labels!

Saving money on coffee

It was a madly busy day at work today, followed by a visit to the hospital to see my mum. She was in a lot of pain today, although she did manage a little walk along the corridor on her frame with the physiotherapist.

Luckily my daughters had sorted dinner when I got home – Quorn bolognese, as one of them is vegetarian. 

I hardly drink coffee at all as I can’t do too much caffeine, but I do enjoy one decent cup each morning. I usually buy Millicano. I try to find it on offer as it’s not cheap, so I was interested to try this Alcafe Barista Moments coffee from Aldi. It was a pretty nice cup actually, not quite Millicano but not bad at all. It cost £2; Millicano is usually at least £4.30. I might mix the two to save a bit of money!

Anybody else tried this? What did you think?

I’m hoping to go and collect Mum tomorrow and take her home but we will have to see what her consultant says. Fingers crossed!

Lidl or Aldi?

I have been using Lidl for my weekly grocery shop recently, mainly because they built a brand new store five minutes from Shoestring Cottage with plenty of parking. However, I am really an Aldi girl. There are just enough differences between their products for me to prefer them.

Last night darling daughter wanted me to take her to her local Aldi so I went back 😀. Yes, you all know I am sad but savvy and this kind of thing cheers me up after a long, hard week at work!

I have particularly missed Aldi’s moisturisers. They are amazing value at under £2 a pot and really work. When you consider that some folk happily spend £40 on the same size pot, fooled by pseudo scientific claims of wrinkle reductions and firmer skin, it just proves just how gullible many of us are! All you need for good skin is to keep it clean, wear some kind of moisturiser, don’t spend too much time in the sun and don’t smoke! Seriously, I truly believe it is that simple. I have followed this advice for years and I am regularly told I don’t look my almost 54 years so it must be working 😀. Whilst I was there I went crazy and bought two. I prefer these to Lidl’s versions as I find theirs too highly perfumed. 

I have a couple of potentially stressful weeks coming up with my parents. They are both in their eighties and in great shape generally, but have operations within two weeks of each other. Today my mum is having a hip replacement. She had the other one done last year and will soon be almost entirely manmade…I am meeting her there this morning to see her in and, all being well, hope to get her back home on Tuesday. 

The week after next my dad will have a potentially more serious op to repair an aneurism. This is at a different hospital further away so will mean a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to visit and take my mum and then make sure they are ok once he is back home. 

I need to make some meals for their freezer and will start with a big vat of lentil soup tomorrow and maybe some shepherd’s pies next week. Fortunately, I have three siblings so we will be sharing the duties. 

Wish them luck and good wishes and, if I don’t manage a daily post, you will know why! Have a great weekend everyone.

A cheap packed lunch 

I can’t believe I am still using up various cheeses from Christmas. It is quite nice to have a bit of Brie in my sandwich at work as I wouldn’t usually buy it except as a treat. 

Every day I take a pot of home made soup, half a bake-at-home baguette filled with whatever needs using or sometimes just butter, and some fruit. The baguettes are really cheap from Aldi – they cost 45p for two and I only have half. So my lunch costs about 11p for the bread,the soup is made with mostly home grown veg so is probably only around 10p a cup and a couple of pieces of fruit – 50p? With a bit of cheese let’s say approximately 70-80p for a very nice satisfying packed lunch. Not bad I think for my low spend January! 

I have some chocolate rice cakes if I need an afternoon snack. Theses are sooooo nice! They cost 95p for four, so my treat is a little cheaper Han anything from the vending machine at 80p an item. Lower in calories too at only 93 per bar.

I could spend £3 on a sandwich from the shop, 60p for a bag of crisps, £2 for a coffee and get an 80p chocolate bar – £5-6 a day? Over £1000 a year? Nah, don’t think so …

More reasons to love Aldi

Well, you know I am a huge fan of the discount supermarkets, especially Aldi, since that is my nearest one (although Lidl is coming soon and will actually be even closer). Yesterday I did a week’s shop for 3-4 of us for a week for £55. I didn’t need all that much as I had done a big shop the week before. As I had a shorter list I allowed myself to look at some of the interesting bits and bobs in the central aisles. 

One of the things that caught my eye was a Sweet Freedom Choc Shots bottle, basically liquid chocolate made with no sugar. It is sweetened with fruit juice. Yesterday we had it on ice cream for dessert and before bed I made some hot chocolate. It was delicious. There is a fruit syrup version that I think would be lovely on porridge so I will look out for that. It is vegan, gluten free and suitable for diabetics. 

I also got some magic eraser sponges. I had seen these before but the Aldi ones were cheap enough to be worth a try. They work well with minimal effort and got a load of dirty marks off the wall in the hallway where we chuck our shoes in a basket. The pix show before and after. I will be interested to see if they really do work on ovens and tougher jobs.

DD3 had her first driving lesson yesterday which she was very excited about. The instructor said she was a natural and they seem to have driven for miles. I bought her four lessons to say well done on her A level results and her dad did the same. After that she is on her own so let’s hope she gets a job soon!

Mr S to the rescue

  I went to Aldi to do the weekly shop on Saturday. I always get there as they open at the weekend. If you don’t you can’t get in the car park! The stores aren’t huge but I think all the car parks are too small. This isn’t helped when a massive delivery lorry turns up and takes up half the car park, which seems to happen quite often!

They had some lovely plants in there and I couldn’t resist. They are so cheap! I also found a solar  hurricane lamp for a friend’s birthday, but when I got it home we liked it so much we decided to keep it and go back and get a few more as presents. Of course when we got there it was absolute bedlam!

  I thought my 15 year old Miele dishwasher had finally bitten the dust on Saturday as it started making a terrible grinding noise. I bought it in the sale and even then it cost £450 but it has been brilliant for a long time.  Mr S came to the rescue though and pulled some bits apart and found a prune stone -it must have got into the works somehow! It works fine now 😀. I could have spent £100 getting an engineer out but I probably would have just scrapped it as it is so old. Every household needs a Mr Shoestring!

He also repaired two garden chairs I got as a set from the charity shop. The table and two of the chairs are solid but the other two were slightly damaged. Now we have a full set and just need the sunshine back.

Honestly, he is a gem 😀😀. Hope he doesn’t read this – don’t want his head expanding!

We wish you a merry Christmas!

  I started writing this sitting in the Aldi car park ready to whizz round and get my Christmas shop as soon as they opened. I hate the stress of crowds and don’t really enjoy shopping of any kind (apart from the charity shops!) so I planned to be round and out as the rest of the world was waking up. They opened officially at 8, but let me in at 7.45 so I was done and dusted by 8.30. 

 

This lot should keep us going!

 Then it was home for a quick tidy up and to make a few preparations for tomorrow’s feast. We are having duck as it’s just me and Mr S and we are keeping it simple and delicious. The girls will be round tonight so I will drag the board games out of the cupboard. They will all stay for breakfast, have dinner with their dad then be back for tea.
I am off for a nice hot bath then I will crack open the chocolates and chill. 

Have a lovely Christmas if you celebrate it. If not, enjoy the quiet!

My baby is flying the nest…

Mum’s gone to Aldi….

Tomorrow is the big day. DD1 is leaving! Going to her own cute little house with her best friend. Out to face the big wide world and to cope with the responsibility of paying her own (quite large) bills and attempting to live on a budget and not get into debt.

I want her to succeed but I am also worried for her. I know what it is like to have to stretch every penny and go without if necessary, how depressing it can feel sometimes to have no spare cash and to never be able to be relaxed about money. It’s hard when you are 22 and just want to buy clothes and makeup!

My moving in gift is a week’s worth of groceries from Aldi, as ever my favourite supermarket. (As well as all the furniture, curtains and kitchen bits she has pinched from the shed and the attic of course!)

I have bought them bread, milk, butter, cheese, fruit, fresh and tinned veg, pasta, rice, pizza, chicken, jars of sauces, loo roll, kitchen roll, cling film, cleaning stuff, fajita kits, baked beans and more… Her groceries cost more than mine!! Still this should take the pressure off until she gets paid again, then she is on her own!

Anyone else have mixed emotions about their babies flying the nest?

Enjoying life’s little affordable luxuries

When you are on a tight budget it can feel a bit grim and relentless sometimes. When I start to find the going tough, I give myself a boost with a small treat. This could take the form of a long hot bubble bath, a glass or two of icy white wine, a bunch of Aldi’s fabulously good value flowers, a proper home pedicure, maybe even a supermarket takeaway if I can run to it.

For people who go out to eat or to the pub often or who can afford a weekly visit to the beautician these might seem silly. To me they are things that I enjoy and have the power to give me a boost.

The point is that, whatever your budget will run to, it is important to have the occasional treat, even if it’s just a bar of Cadburys!

What’s your favourite affordable luxury?

Slow cooked beef and mushroom one pot casserole

imageI managed to make dinner in 5 minutes flat yesterday morning, and threw it in the slow cooker before I left for work. No fuss winter grub. This serves 5-6. All of the ingredients were from Aldi.

Pack of three frying steaks (you could use stewing steak but as it happened this was cheaper)
Medium onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
Tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 pint beef stock
Large handful of chopped mushrooms
Tin potatoes
Heaped teaspoon dried mixed herbs
Splash of Worcester sauce
Seasoning to taste

imageChop it up and throw it on the slow cooker on medium for 6-8 hours. It was so easy and delicious, and the meat was really tender. We had some broccoli with ours.

I love my slow cooker! I frequently just tip it all in and rarely follow a recipe and it usually works perfectly.

What are you cooking in yours?