Thursday, 2 February 2012

# 33 Price Drop or Price Hike?

I've just completed my food shop at Tescos for the month ahead. And I'm pretty shocked at how much everything has gone up since I last went at the end of December.

Frozen sweetcorn has now become a luxury item we cannot afford since it's shot up by almost 40p a bag since the last time I bought some. And soap powder? Well you can forget it. Why has this gone up nearly £1? And these are value brand products.

And despite Tesco's 'Price Drop Promise' it seems most of the goods I buy have suffered some sort of price hike or are currently not being stocked in store, thus forcing me to either go without or buy the nearest substitute. Hence I also came back missing a few things. Why should I have to buy the next expensive product just because they haven't restocked their shelves? It's all a conspiracy of course.

Price drops are a myth since the supermarkets price hike before they drop so you think you're getting a good deal. What, you thought they dropped prices out of the goodness of their heart because they are generous? It's all about profit and it has nothing to do with our budgets.

Every month less and less goes into my trolley. I can now carry home an entire month's supermarket shop on the back of my bike. Being clever in the kitchen has become an important part of making what I bring home, last for four weeks. When the direct debit with British Gas went up when they hiked prices a few months back, the extra few pounds a month had to come from somewhere.

And although we're running the house between two people on pretty much the same as this time last year, it's only because if the price of something goes up, it comes out of something else. The supermarket shop is the first place it goes from because prices are always fluctuating and if you take the time you can get pretty much the same amount of food for the same price month by month.

Visiting the supermarket is a minefield. You have to be supermarket savvy to get the best out of it, not be tempted by deals and always go with a list you stick to.

Don't accept that the best deals advertised are actually the best deals. Usually it's a clever ploy to make you buy more expensively without realising it. Check products weight by weight and see if they are actually better value than your usual choice.

Don't be scared by value brands. Often they are just as good, you're just not paying for the label on the packaging.

Are better value packs really better value?

Home made bread - perfect
Don't be lured by special offers or buy 1 get 1 free unless it is something you use. Rarely are they better, and often they are gauged against the top brands in store, so if you're not a brand shopper you won't be saving any money and are probably paying more.

Bake your own. Often buying the raw ingredients and making yourself at home are cheaper than buying ready made. Bread is the perfect example of this. I am really horrified at how much a loaf of bread costs. I haven't bought bread in 3 years, I make my own every week and it costs about £3 a month. For that I get 2 loaves and 6 rolls per week.

And that's how to stick to a tight food budget.

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