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.
Of course, everyone’s tastes are different, and you might find that you don’t agree with some of these if you have tried them yourself, but as Asda is my main source for grocery shopping these are truly tried and tested in my house. In some cases the saving is not immense but of course it all adds up. I have not ranked the items in any specific order but I have divided them into 3 catagories below:
Just as happy with the lesser brand
- Swap Philadelphia for Asda Original Soft Cheese (we are talking the full fat varieties on both here – Skinny Spending doesn’t do skinny food!)
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 Original Soft Cheese 200g – 80p
Philadelphia Original Soft Cheese 180g – £1.87
Total saving: £1.07 (Plus 20g extra cheese)
- Asda Baked Beans vs Heinz – I am really happy with the Asda beans and barely notice a difference in taste. The 4 pack is 98p vs £2.69 for Heinz so this is a massive saving!
Total saving: £1.71
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies vs Asda Rice Snaps – plus various other cereals
I really can’t tell the difference between the Asda Rice Snaps, Corn Flakes, Bran Flakes or Malted Wheaties (Shreddies). For a 340g pack the prices are 75p vs over £2 for the Kelloggs / Nestle version. If you are buying several cereals this will add up to a significant amount!
Total Saving based on Rice Krispies: £1.30 per box
- Napolina Tinned chopped Tomatoes vs Asda 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.
Napolina Tinned Tomatoes x 4 – £3.00
Asda Tinned Tomatoes x 4 -£1.39
Total saving per pack : £1.61
- John West Tuna vs Asda – 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.
John West Tuna in brine x 4 – £3.75
Asda Tuna in brine x 4 – £3.00
Total saving – 75p
- 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.
Napolina Fusilli 500g – £1.00
Asda Fusilli 500g – 55p
Total Saving: 45p
- Old El Paso Mexican Fajita kit (£3.18) vs Asda Fajita kit (£1.50) – The Asda own brand made just as tasty fajitas at a fraction of the price.
Total Saving – £1.65
- Solid Block Butter (not spreadable) – Butter seems to be shooting up in price at the moment, the Asda one used to be around 88p not too long ago, however it still works out cheaper than a premium brand such as Lurpak.
500g Lurpak – £2.00
500g Asda Butter – £1.45
Total saving: 55p
- Mature Cheddar Cheese
I do love me a bit of Pilgrim’s Choice or Catherdal City. But, unless on special offer I’m happy with the Asda Extra Mature Cheddar. The difference is barely noticeable.
350g Cathedral City – £3.50
500g Asda Mature Cheddar – £2.75
Total saving: 75p plus 150g extra
Happy with the cheaper brand but not *quite* as good
- Bread – Husband insists on Warbutons but as he has white and I have 50/50 or brown, I will buy the Asda wholemeal own brand or Kingsmill 50/50 when on offer. The Asda one isn’t quite as good but I’m still happy with it overall and it is around half the price.
800g Warbuton’s Medium White Sliced Bread £1.05
800g Asda Baker’s Selection White / Wholemeal Sliced Bread 55p
Total saving = 50p
- Asda Wheat Bisks vs Weetabix – There is a definite difference here and I’m not so keen on the Asda Bisks, however they go down well with the rest of the family so I continue to buy them. Especially when this includes a 2 year old who will often devour one, then insist on another, take 2 mouthfuls and declare she’s finished! There’s no way I’m wasting premium brand bisks on that malarkey.
24 Weetabix – £2.44
24 Asda Wheat Bisks – £1.26
Total Saving – £1.18
- Asda Soup vs Heinz (except for Tomato – see below)
As much as I would like to say I always make my own soup from scratch to take to work (and it does happen…sometimes) there are plenty of occasions where you need a few tins of soup in the cupboard as a standby. And let’s face it, even the premium brand Heinz soups are still cheaper than a shop bought sandwich. But at around 95p per can unless on special offer, I thought it was an item I could definitely look into downshifting. The Asda soups are 39p a can so this was a massive difference already. I bought lentil, minestrone, chicken, mushroom and tomato. There is definitely a difference in the taste that tells you it is not of quite the same quality, but for the price I found them all to be extremely good value and perfectly palatable. As Heinz Tomato is a big favourite in our household, although the Asda tomato was not unpleasant, the difference in taste was more noticeable than the other varieties. Therefore I decided to stick with Heinz for this but everything else has got the downshift!
Heinz – 95p per can
Asda – 39p per can
Total Saving: 56p saving per can
Total saving based on one item per purchase: £11.68
Which products have I yet to find a downshift for anywhere?
- 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.
- McVities Digestives and Dark Chocolate digestives – Maybe this should go in the category above as I have often bought the own brand version of these but every time I do I am disappointed by the smallness of them and the 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 – see the soup comment above.
- 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.
- Oatibix – this is largely because I don’t think a supermarket own version exisits. If you know otherwise then please let me know. I can’t bring myself to pay more than £2 for it though so buy it when it goes on offer (and keep it out of sight of the 2 year old!
- Longely farm cottage cheese – so thick and creamy, worth paying the extra for!
So – there are my tips for downshifting at Asda! Which do you agree / disagree with? Do you have any other supermarket own brand products that need to make the list? Leave me a comment and let me know!