Store cupboard basics – Tesco’s seem to have an intermittently ongoing deal on sunflower oil – £10 for 2 x 5l – but be careful ‘cos some stores randomly mix up canola and sunflower oil at the same promotion point – fine if you wanted canola, but a real pain if you’ve lugged home 5 or 10 litres of the wrong thing. Also, in other stores KTC canola oil is often on special offer, but the last time I checked, they were using GM canola, so read the label.
Lidl is the cheapest place for olive oil £2.19 for 750ml, and tomato puree 34p a tube.
Most of the big stores have introduced some fair-trade tea, coffee or cocoa to their budget range – Sainsbury’s basics ground coffee is £1.69 for 250g and quite drinkable (I actually use it to cut it half and half with my fav Vietnamese coffee) a pack of teabags can be as little as 25p and both the Co-op and Tescos do an excellent fair trade hot chocolate – I prefer the Co-op one, but they’re both good – the Co-op’s is definitely vegan, the labelling on the Tesco one is a bit confusing.
Lidl is the cheapest place for dried herbs, although their range is limited, spices are always much cheaper in a local Indian/Turkish/Arabic store.
Lidl is the cheapest place to buy pre cooked beetroot, 44p for 500g – it’s nearly twice that in other stores. Fruit and veg is almost always cheaper from the market than the supermarket, even when they’ve got a special offer on.
Dairy, Fish and Meat – Tesco’s and Lidl mozzarella is still about 45p, whereas the same thing in Sainsbury’s basic range is 70p. Sainsbury’s basic wedge of hard Italian cheese is the cheapest parmesan style cheese for cooking and pasta and is reasonably good quality £2.85.
If you eat eggs, unfortunately even free range eggs (Iceland £1 for 6) are now all being fed GM animal feed.
If you eat fish, then either Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s always seem to have a half price or two for the price of one deal on frozen king prawns – when one shop’s deal ends, it probably is just starting in the other. There’s been a lot of controversy recently about cheaper types of fish such as pollack and catfish (basa) being passed off as cod or haddock – we might as well embrace the fact and choose to buy the cheaper fish – which is often more sustainable. There’s links on my useful links page to two sites that tell you which fish are not endangered from overfishing or farmed in an ecologically dodgy way.
If you eat meat, obviously there is no such thing as good cheap meat – there is cheap meat which has been factory farmed and there is discounted meat in the reduced section – if you make sure the packaging is unbroken and that it has been discounted by at least 30%, then stick it in the freezer. The only exception to this is things like liver and kidneys, which are always best bought as fresh as possible – although they still freeze fine.