What I downshift (and what I don’t) at the supermarket

What I downshift (and what I don’t) at the supermarket
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Last Updated on May 20, 2021 by Melissa S.

What is “downshifting”?

One well versed way to shave a few pounds off your grocery bill is to downshift from a premium or well-known brand to the supermarket own brand. The rule is simple: if you don’t notice a difference, or even prefer the own brand product, stick with it and save- or even downshift further to the budget brand.

If you don’t like the downshift, then simply continue to buy the usual brand knowing it is better to pay more and enjoy something than feel like you’re chewing on cardboard for breakfast. The process can seem a little daunting to begin though, so I have complied my favourite downshifted swaps from Asda.

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Of course, everyone’s tastes are different, and you might not agree or even use all of my suggestions, but it might give you a starting point of products to try. As Asda and Aldi are my main sources for grocery shopping, these are the products I have mentioned as they are the ones I actually use.

UPDATE: As prices are ever changing, I have removed them as a comparison as it becomes outdated very quickly. However against the RRP less any special offers, these unbranded products still represent a decent saving against branded.

Asda own brand cereals vs branded

This is probably my biggest saving overall, and my number 1 pick for you to try. Branded cereals can be up to 3 times the price of unbranded, and the difference in taste is minimal. If you check the nutrition information, you may also be surprised to discover that often there is less added sugar in the unbranded versions.

As a family, we regularly buy the Asda own brand Corn Flakes, porridge oats, Rice Krispies, Shreddies, Cheerios and Weetabix.

Here’s 3 breakfast ideas with porridge including homemade granola for the fraction of the price of shop bought!

Soft Cheese e.g. Philadelphia

I was very pleasantly surprised with this one as I fully expected the Asda one to be awful and not match up to good ol’ Philly at all. I was happy to be wrong. I have been buying the own brand for a couple of years now and have never really noticed the difference.

Asda Baked Beans vs Heinz

I am really happy with the Asda beans and barely notice a difference in taste.

Tinned chopped tomatoes

I buy a lot of tinned tomatoes as the base for sauce for a variety of meals such as chilli, spaghetti bolognaise, cottage pie, curries and more. This works out much cheaper (and healthier) than buying cooking sauces, and the Asda ones are just as good as the premium brand.

Tuna

To be honest I would always buy the supermarket own brand for tuna. I have bought John West before when an offer has made it cheaper and I can’t tell the difference at all.

Pasta

As above, I would never think of buying a premium brand pasta unless it worked out cheaper or it was for a special meal.

Fabric Conditioner

I am really happy with the Asda own brand fabric compared to the branded, and it represents a saving of over £2 for 75 washes.

Furniture Polish

I swapped Mr Sheen for the Aldi own brand and I am yet to notice a difference!

Shower Spray (Glass door cleaner)

Again, I find the Aldi and Asda own brands are just as good as branded versions such as Mr Sheen.

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Which products don’t I downshift?

As the downshifting rule goes, it’s only a saving if you enjoy the downgrade. These are the branded products that I am happy to pay extra for, as we can definitely tell the difference!

Heinz Ketchup what can I say? You know when you’re at a chip van at a fairground or a festival and they have cheap ketchup…that’s the taste of disappointment in my mouth right there.

Hellmans mayonnaise – ditto. I do quite like Heinz mayonnaise that you often get in the sauce selection at pubs but as this is another premium brand it wouldn’t be classed as a downshift either. Even though I am a big advocate of avoiding diet and low fat / light products, we do buy Hellman’s light for the majority of the year and then go full fat at Christmas.

Fairy Dishwasher Tablets – I saw another money saver on Instagram post that she thought her dishwasher was broken because the results were always so dissapointing. It turns out it was the fault of the cheap tablets, and as soon as she tried a better brand, her dishes were sparkling again! We have never found a brand that work as well as Fairy. I bulk buy these from Makro in a 75 tablet bag when they are on a BOGOF offer to help keep the cost down.

McVities Digestives and Dark Chocolate digestives –  Whenever I have bought the own brand version of these I am disappointed by the size and overall taste. But let’s face it – a biscuit is a biscuit and they do still get eaten. But McVities definitely reign supreme and so I try and buy from a bulk shop or stock up when they are on offer.

Heinz Tomato Soup – I am happy with the supermarket version of most soup flavours, but Heinz Tomato is one that tastes noticably better.

Lurpak spreadable – I was surprised by this one when I tried to downshift, because butter is butter, right? However, to make it spreadable, other ingredients are added. On closer inspection Lurpak had a much higher percentage of butter than its supermarket counterparts and this was definitely noticeable in the taste.

Longely farm cottage cheese – so thick and creamy, worth paying the extra for!

 

So – there are my tips for downshifting! Do you have any other supermarket own brand products that need to make the list? Leave me a comment and let me know!


Reader Comments

  1. My recommendation for the ones you can’t find a downshift for – try a blind taste test (no cheating!). You’ll be surprised how much of an effect the packaging has on your overall impression of the product.

    You could also try to downshift further to smartprice versions (again – do a blind taste test!).

    1. Thanks, that’s a really good idea. I think even with the best intentions it’s hard not to be influenced by the packaging in some ways.

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