Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Back to basics


Hello Dear Reader,

I'm taking part in Sainsbury's basics challenge. It is not my normal supermarket but I will give anything a go in the name of market research. I was sent £20 and the invitation to go buy some of their basics range and then cook and blog about the recipes. It's odd shopping in a normal supermarket and I did wonder why it needed to sell tellys and knickers as well as hoovers and pots and pans. I'm used to shops that just sell food and it would be easy to be lured into buying other goods. If you do shop in real supermarkets then take a list and stick to it as temptation is all around. 


I decided to buy store cupboard staples and found there was a good selection in their basics range. Some I can't eat such as bread, biscuits and starchy produce but nonetheless they had a great selection. I like the honesty that says that a few beans will be split, that it doesn't have a fancy package, that the tomatoes may have skin on here and there but it's still good food. Even though I paid more than I would for the regular brands at Aldi, I appreciate that not everyone has a Lidl, Aldi or local market near them. If Sainsbury's was my only supermarket then I'm sure I would be glad of the basics range.


I'm going to be using these products in my cooking over the next few days and I will give feed back as I do along with recipes I try whilst using them. You can look at all their basics range HERE along with prices on Mysupermarket. Sorry if you're in other countries, we do moan about food prices here but it's evident from all you say that our food is much cheaper. Thank goodness as folk are struggling as it is!


Over to you Dear Reader, is anyone else a Sainsbury's basics consumer? Who else is a big fan of supermarket basics range? Who thinks that they are not always the bargain they purport to be? 

Even though I was given these groceries, I can assure you that my opinions of them will be entirely my own. If they are good, then I will say so and like wise, if I think they are not good value or you can get better for less else where, then I will say so. 

As ever, I look forward to hearing from you.

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxx

46 comments:

  1. I love their Fruit and Fibre Bran flakes could eat them like all day, I have tried dearer ones and they are not a patch on them, not a lot of fruit but I just had some basics dried fruit. If the beans are split or not quite the right shape by the time they are chopped and chewed they have lost their shape anyway.

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  2. I buy a lot from Sainsburys and a least half of my monthly shop - my store cupboard staples - are from their basics range. They taste good and because they are simple, are suitable for our allergy needs. The kids will as happily breakfast on the Basics rice pops, corn flakes or porridge oats as they will any branded version. I just wish the free-from range was not so expensive - though Sainsburys are, by far and away, the best allergy-friendly supermarket I've come across.

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  3. We love a good Orange shop! We buy a lot of their basic range, when we get money off vouchers we go and pile up the trolley. I have had a few funny looks from the Mrs Snooty's but I dont care, I know I can fill up my cupboards with good quality basics for a fraction of the price of Best range. I think the split red beans are better, they seem easier to digest and thicken a stew or a chilli nicely. I have used the cartons of chopped tomatoes to make a relish as they are cheaper than fresh ones and it was just as nice. I have never bought the Tuna so it will be interesting to hear what you think about that. The cereals are a bit yuk and no where near as nice as Lidl but overall I think the badics range is e cellent value for money.

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  4. I use a lot of sainsburys basic range tinned, fresh and some packaged. There are only a couple of items I do not buy (brown sauce and basic custard being a couple) but Tuna chunks are great and the tuna is line caught. If the packaging tells you there are some oddities, so what, fruit and veg are generally imperfect so fine by me. I give sainsburys basic range a thumbs up!

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  5. I don't shop in sainsburys as I love aldi to much which I no you do to. But just surprised by your comment about being used to shops that just sell food as both aldi and lidl sell all sorts of weird and wonderful things that you definitely can't eat, such as loft ladders and Chinese woks. Love your blog by way. xx

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    1. They certainly do - my dad bought his dingy from Aldi! Sainsbury's sold more non food than food - I was mesmerised and equally distracted

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    2. I used to shop in Sainsburys all the time when I lived in the UK, and always felt they gave good value for money. Nowadays when I visit it is mainly to buy underwear, as they are just as good as M&S and a fraction of the price!

      We are Lidl shoppers here in Greece, along with "local" supermarkets. I can buy all we need, but prices are high for anything imported, and meat is extortionate - your post below about the beef in beer reminded me that we haven't had this for ages, though, so guess what is on our Sunday menu! We are lucky enough to have a good fruit & veg market once a week selling local produce at sensible prices, otherwise our "healthy" food intake would be much reduced.

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  7. What a cool challenge! We have home brand here at Coles and Woolworths, the cheapest tin of kidney beans is 89 cents- daylight robbery.Though I did get given a bunch of FREE Christmas comestibles the other day at the supermarket. Shame they were all palm oily and full of e numbers!

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  8. Great challenge! You can make so much with simple food although I do love aldi here in aus too!

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  9. I like how the Sainbury's Basic brand adds that little note on the packaging; "no fancy packaging but still good in coffee" & "a little less rich but still good with fry ups".

    Here in Oz our supermarkets have their versions of cheaper brands & products - what we call the 'No Name Brands' - and I certainly find many of these products are equally as good as those that have a brand name and a hefty price attached.

    I find these posts just as interesting to read Froogs even though I don't live in the UK.

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  10. I don't shop in Sainsbury but I have heard that their basic range is very good. I mainly shop in Aldi (off to do a stock up shop this weekend as there's a £5 off £40 shop in the paper tomorrow) and top up in the Coop if we need to, taking advantage of their reduced price offers. Another advantage of Aldi is that I can zoom round it in super quick time without queueing for ages at the checkout. OH seems to get more distracted by the non food items but we've picked up some really good items in Aldi from time to time (and the fantastic mini oven in Lidl).

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  11. Hi Froogs, we have tried a lot of the 'Basics' range ive not tried the Ketchup sauces, the tined items seem to be good, we didn't like the UHT milk, but overall a good value range, and tasty
    AFM xx

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  12. ps do you keep a large pantry? Would love to see what you do and don't stock up on

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  13. I tend to shop in Asda, once I've bought anything I can from the list in Lidl on the way there, as I find my basket is cheaper there than Sainsbury's - I love most of Asda's Smart Price range - their Basics range - like anything else you have to approach all the products with an open mind and some I love, others not so much but the ones I buy regularly are just as good as any branded goods

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  14. I often buy the supermarket own brands for my basic food stuff. By law in Australia there are set standards for milk etc. I am very interested to see the ideas you present. As a society we need to be aware that we have to waste less and make better use of secondary products.

    Aldi has become a store of personal preference because my shopping time is less and the layout from store to store is pretty standard. Also it is fairly easy to ignore the special offers etc as they are located in the centre section of the store.

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  15. I can totally vouch for:

    Basics Rice Pud : fab, on the thinner side (which I prefer) and only 3.2g fat for 15p!
    Basics Carton Pure Apple Juice: 65p - because I like a glass of warm apple juice with a bit of cinnamon for a change with my porridge during the winter :) (about 12p a go)
    Basics Fairtrade Bananas: very good and tasty I'm told (I don't eat them)
    Basics Tinned Spuds: store cupboard standard 14p for a big tin 540gm
    Basics Tinned Custard: not rich but tasty - also only 3g fat! 17p
    Basics Mushy Peas: I eat these as thick pea soup 15p
    Basics Red Berry Mix: frozen mixed berries to jolly up porridge/make crumble/put in yoghurt etc 400g for £1.30 - but often on offer - lasts for ages happily in the freezer

    ... looking forward to your review!

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  16. I can always use any supermarkets basic ranges , sainsburys are very good , i love morrisons tinned fruit and washing powder , tescos deodorant is only 41p , tescos basic potatoes are about £1.20 for a large bag, it all depends in what town i shop in , i like morrisons plain flour too , all the basics ranges , but if you can get to Aldi , you cant beat the quality and price of there food.

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  17. Hi Froogs! I can't say for sure if we have basic brands here in the states (or at least where I am). We have store brands but it seems as though the basic line in your stores is significantly reduced. Or that there is name brand, store brand and then basic (store) brand. Is this correct? For what I buy I may save ten cents or so from the name brand. Depending on what you buy, the value varies by a lot. Because of this I'll tend to buy what is on sale since it will often be less than the store brand. ~ Pru

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    1. here we have premium brands, regular brands, shop own brand and then basics - no frills, plain packaging - they are the cheapest and always worth trying

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  18. I've used Sainsbury's basic range for years, ever since I briefly worked for them in fact. Some of their things are better than top range in other places. And it's always worth looking at the clothing range in Sainsbury's as they have closer links than you would imagine to Next and for half the price usually.

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    1. I think Sainsbury's school uniform range is very good as well as other children's clothing basics. They frequently have 25% off special weekends too on their clothing ranges which are worth keeping an eye open for.

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  19. I too am a huge fan of Aldi - though my nearest one is now two bus journeys away so I tend not to get there as often as I like - but I'm also very impressed with all the Sainsbury's Basics items that I've tried so far. Was a little disappointed, however, to discover that their Basics Non-PVC Cling Film is now only 40 metres per role instead of the 60 metres it used to be. A third less for the same money is quite a hike in the actual price of cling film.

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  20. We used to shop at Sainsburys as it has nice wide aisles so easy to get round with the kids. Then we found the fresh fruit & veg didn't last very well. We switched to Waitrose which (a) wasn't any more expensive and (b) worked out better value because all the fresh stuff lasted really well.

    I'd always said I couldn't get a proper week's food shop at Aldi but we switched a few months ago. I don't know whether they've improved their stock since my student days but they do now seem to have all the standard fruit & veg whenever we go. It's definitely much cheaper than the other supermarkets and I find the basics range is better quality than others too. Funnily enough I was just saying after our last Aldi shop that whenever I go to a normal supermarket now (e.g. for milk or walking through it to another shop at the local shopping centre from the car park) I really notice the amount of advertising aimed at getting you to spend more.

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  21. I try lots of the basics here. Often you are paying extra for the brand name, so I am always looking for a bargain. Definitely worth a try.

    It will be interesting to see what they taste like.

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  22. The basics frozen range is excellent , far superior to other big supermarkets, I dont really care if the chops are funny shaped, there fruit and veg basics are good . The cereals are the only let down . But you do have to stick to basics when shopping ,there as some of the next ranges up that work out really expensive .

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  23. Lol I had to go into a real supermarket the other day as I was with my friend. I didn't buy anything but omg what an eye opener. A whole isle just for coke! I'm sticking to aldi. I only buy want I want and I don't need all those choices, just good food at a good price thank you very much

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  24. Some supermarket basics are better than others, still worth shopping around even if you just stick to these. My faves from Sainsbury's are the teabags (fair trade and taste much nicer than PG tips or Waitrose Essentials), dark chocolate which I use for puddings and naughty snacks, and the fish paste. 25p!

    I prefer basic sweet and sour sauce from Asda, and also their pork pate. Tesco does cheaper basic spaghetti, but might as well go to Aldi for that.

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  25. We regularly buy Basics tea bags, kidney beans, tinned tomatoes, avocados, tuna chunks, tinned potatoes, pasta and red berry fruits. The Basics soap powder is great too- I add a bag of soda crystals to it and everything comes out lovely.
    We have had a few digs when at the till from people about our bargain hunting but sod them, it's our money and better in our pockets than the supermarket's!

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    1. Lol, I always say that about the money being better in my pocket than the supermarket! :)

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  26. When we've bought basic range fruit and veg from supermarkets, the only difference I can see is that they are smaller and perhaps a bit misshapen compared with the usual items. Can anyone tell me whether that's the only difference between basic and 'normal' fruit and veg, or is it something to do with the quality?

    I definitely find that Aldi cereals are far superior to Tesco basic cereal. Also noticed recently that Aldi cereals are fortified with iron, vitamins etc but I don't see this in Lidl cereal. Aldi pasta, noodles, stir fry sauces are brilliant and I find their fruit and vegetables last all week without going soggy, unlike the fruit and veg I buy from Tesco. Off to buy my newspaper for the £5 voucher now!

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  27. I use their basic tea bags, chopped tomatoes, cornflakes and mushy peas! Otherwise other items I find cheaper in Aldi. It's not always about price it's about taste.

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  28. I used to shop in Sainsburys until I moved here - there is no Sainsburys near me here and now use Lidl and Aldi. I always used the value range when it was my local shop though and, on the whole, I thought it was very good quality stuff. I was always a little unsure when it came to value meat so have little experience of that thought.

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  29. I use Sainsbury's basics all the time and in general they do seem good value. I wonder why they've stopped selling madarins in juice - I rely on tinned fruit quite a bit and it's disquieting that there seem to be more in syrup than in juice.

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  30. Oooh will be interested in your verdict on the Basics range. I've tried a whole range of products, some of which I've stuck with, but some I didn't like so much.
    I entirely support supermarkets actually selling fruit and veg that doesn't look so beautiful, rather than throwing it away, and regularly buy Basics bananas, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, mango (if available), melon, oranges, plums, courgettes, avocados and carrots. Sometimes they take a while to ripen, rather than being instantly ready to eat but I'm happy to wait rather than pay extra.
    With apples, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers, you take pot luck on the varieties and sizes in the bag, but that's fine with me. I found the lemons and garlic on the small side, so tend to avoid them now.
    I'm particularly keen on their mixed weight eggs, flour and sultanas for baking, plus the Basics natural yogurt, bake at home baguettes, pitted olives, Weetabix equivalent, tinned sweetcorn, tinned kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, frozen peas and cooking bacon (strange name, you get a mix of offcuts and thicknesses).
    Like the soft cheese, mozzarella and greek cheese, but found the cheddar and red leicester too rubbery.
    Stuff that was OK but I'll only buy on an economy drive was the rice, pasta shapes, tea bags and orange juice.
    Bit suspicious about the quality of ready meals when priced so cheaply, and have also avoided stuff like Basics sausages & fish fingers.
    Also worth checking if other branded goods are on offer, so for example Basics unsalted butter isn't always the cheapest option.
    Sorry for the lengthy lists - found recommendations online really helpful when I was first tried out Basics stuff.

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  31. Here in the states its and especially where I live its Walmart. Ugh! I try to avoid it whenever possible. We do have a regional supermarket chain called Ingles and its very good. I have seen several offerings for local, seasonal produce and their store brand canned goods and dairy are very good too { my husband and I actually used to have a dairy farm and sell our milk to Ingles so I know its good ! }. They have recently started their own line of organics and the prices are comparable to standard products. I love to take basics and see what I can come up with. I can't wait to see what you do with your purchases.
    p.s. will be making your gluten free meatballs tonight!

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  32. Where I am in NJ, I am inundated with Shop Rite and Kings. Shop Rite brands are mediocre at best in my opinion, though we do buy their soy milk. Some of their prices on a few name things we do buy fluctuate as being reasonable to downright obscene. Kings is an upscale market and waaaaaaaaaaay overpriced, more than Whole Foods to me, so I never bother. We prefer not to buy name brands, except for Nature's Path for our little one and Dr. Bronner's soaps for laundry detergent and general use.
    The supermarkets who have the best private label at a great price for us are Trader Joe's (an Aldi Company), Wegman's, Fairway and some of the 365 Whole Foods line is very well priced and lower than Trader Joe's in some cases!
    Lately we have not been able to buy frozen shrimp as Trader Joe's has had none in stock for over a month. We were told by a friend who owns a restaurant nearby, that there is a shrimp shortage due to the fish farms in Asia being hit with a virus. Very scary. Sometimes I wish we could get our shrimp from the Gulf here in the States, the price makes it prohibitive. See here http://www.cajungrocer.com/fresh-foods-gulf-shrimp-c-1_15_35.html
    Oddly enough, I am a little embarrassed to say I have gotten the best fish deals at Target and have read they use well vetted companies. Go figure.

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    1. Hi MissFifi, I am also living in NJ and I usually shop at ShopRite and Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's is about 6 miles from my house so I don't go there as often as ShopRite. Have you ever tried the ShopRite organic store brand? I just bought the organic canned peas and also have bought their canned beans (cannolini and red kidney beans) and find them very good quality. Just curious to know what you think of those items?

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    2. I have not tried their canned beans, but will look for them next time I venture in. Thanks!!!

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  33. I'm curious whether the "value" brand is the only store brand, or if there are two levels, and this is the lower. Here in the US, different stores do different things. I have been using store brands for over 40 years. While there have been a few I wouldn't buy again, I've never taken one back or thrown it away. A store brand called Western Family is sold by many stores in this part of the US, and the quality of everything I've used (which is just about everything they make) has been uniformly excellent--in some cases better than the national brands. The prices are much less than the national brands--usually even with coupons.

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  34. I also use Sainsbury's Basics range and like the fact that their tuna is line caught and tea is Fairtrade. Most of the products we have tried are as good as brands - my children like the chocolate biscuits and the chocolate is excellent for cooking. My shopping trolley must look very strange if anyone is bothered to examine it as it usually has a strange combination of organic produce (expensive!) and Basics. I look forward to seeing what you think when you try the range.

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  35. I love Sainsbury's. I mostly buy their basic range in veg - including avocados! Their frozen "odd shapes" fish is excellent value. I like the chopped tomatoes which are packaged in a box which I find stores better.

    I use all the supermarkets and know what I like in each. Very happy to buy basic ranges.

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  36. Our closest Sainsbury's is 8 miles away and I'm lucky enough to have an Aldi just down the road in one direction and Morrisons, FarmFoods and Asda about the same distance in the other direction so I've never used Sainsbury's basics range. But you managed to get an awful lot for your money. If I didn;t use Approved Foods for most of my storecupboard items, and Aldi for my fresh then I would certainly use svavers/basics ranges.

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  37. I still like to shop around for the values & basic ranges. I have Morrisons, Tesco & Aldi close by that I use. I buy what I find to best value for money from each. Washing powder & deodorant for 41p in Tesco, 29p pasta in Morrisons, fresh veg in Aldi. Every penny saving helps!

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  38. Hi Froogs, - love your blog by the way! I work in Geneva but live in France just across the border so as you can imagine I am SO jealous of the UK prices. Grocery shopping in Switzerland is such a treat of course but as you can imagine it is ridiculously expensive (most people in this border area cross the border to shop in France). I always go to my local market to a local trader for his eggs and chickens (which I have to order in advance) but while I love my fruit-and-veg chappie I actually compared his prices with the local LIDL and, as an example, fresh fennel is over 2 euros per kilo more expensive at the market and I KNOW it isn't grown locally. Quite a dilemma - supporting local producers (for cheese and meat etc, no problem) but I have a big problem with the price of their fruit and veg. So I tend to trot between the market, LIDL and my local supermarket (Intermarché) where I know where everything is and is reasonable. But hey ho, such is life. We do what we can don't we. Anna

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