I HAVE been branded a supermarket snob by my children who tell me to change chain every time I whinge about the bill.
This is particularly the case with my oldest who was a firm fan of Aldi when she was doing her degree in London, bustling down to an industrial-looking outback south of Peckham to do her weekly shop every Sunday, after which she inevitably felt depressed.
I went with her once on a bleak grey Sunday and found myself lingering gloomily over a crate of wizened lemons, managing subsequently to persuade her that the saving just wasn’t worth the emotional cost.
There is a reason why I pick and choose which supermarket I go to. It’s like choosing a restaurant. There will always be cheaper options beckoning; it just depends if you can stomach them.
On the high end of the spectrum, there’s the Cortes Ingles, which I make a point of keeping out of, except of course at Christmas when the peculiarly Anglo-Saxon mince pie can be found nestling by the loaves of panettone and other seasonal Spanish treats.
At the other end is the sunny-looking Lidl, which I have ventured into several times, lost the will to get as far as the check-out and come out empty-handed. I should add, post-lockdown, I was roped into an evening picking up Lidl’s reject food to give to struggling families and grabbed a box of eggs which I can still picture today. I won’t go into detail, and I do realise they were chucking them but I couldn’t help thinking about the moment an unsuspecting customer had alerted staff to remove them from the shelf.
My go-to is Carrefour, mostly because the parking is easy. I would like to shop at Mercadona as I have a hunch that I could save a bob or two, but just when I am about to take the plunge, I end up back in my usual spot because they have given me a cheque – yes really! – to go wild with, maybe buy that extra bunch of bananas or pack of pants. Or simply claw back some of the money that has been wasted by going there in the first place.
It’s also a matter of familiarity. At this stage in the game, I’m reluctant to acquaint myself with a new set of aisles. It’s like a partner; they might be boring but at least you know your way around.
But now that the post-Covid – or rather mid-Covid – squeeze is on, I am seriously considering a switch, not only of supermarket but perhaps of country. I hear tell that a weekly shop in Britain is half the price, at least that is what one friend has been trying to persuade me for years, though it has to be said he is talking Asda, not Waitrose.
With my monthly budget at stake, I went to investigate, totting up reams of groceries in one store and another.
The following is a general weekly shop, with own brand products where possible, from Carrefour, and how it would have panned out if I’d gone to Mercadona or Consum instead, or even Asda and Tesco back in the UK. Quantities are the same where possible and the comparison is as close as my arithmetic allows.
And Mercadona is, of course, the winner!
I won’t be selling up and heading back to Scotland just yet, but it certainly true though as far as dumping the French giant goes, the operation has given me food for thought…