I'm a supermarket expert – the secrets you need to know about buying cheap but tasty own-brand food | The Sun

IF you're trying to save money at the supermarket – there are some simple tricks you need to know.

Shops use certain sneaky tactics to make us spend more money, so spotting the best deals and cheapest ranges is not always easy.

But understanding how to avoid these spending traps and keep your groceries bill down has never been more important.

This week, families were warned that their food shop bill was set to soar by £360 this year.

The situation is so bad, that some shoppers have told supermarket cashiers to stop scanning their items once they reach a certain limit.

Inflation has hit a 40-year high of 9.1% and millions of households are grappling with a cost of living crisis as everything from energy bills to petrol prices rocket.

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Which? expert Ellie Simmonds said: "But some groceries are rising in price faster than others.

"One good way of keeping your grocery bill down is to buy own-label budget food and drink."

But if you really want to get the best bang for your buck in-store, there are some things you really need to know about budget ranges.

Know the names

Value items can often be hidden on the shelves, and finding the cheapest ranges can be half the battle.

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Budget ranges can go by lots of different names, said Ellie, and some supermarkets even have more than one own-brand range.

Here's a full list of the main budget ranges so you know what to look for.

  • Aldi: Everyday Essentials
  • Asda: Just Essentials (and Smart Price)
  • Lidl: Simply
  • Morrisons: Morrisons Savers, Woodheads Brothers, International Seafood Company, Chippindales, Wonky, Stephensons Bakery, Greenside Deli
  • Ocado: Ocado own range
  • Sainsbury's: Greengrocer (fruit and veg), J. James (meat, fish and poultry), Mary Ann's (dairy), Hubbard's (long-life products), Imperfectly Tasty
  • Tesco: Hearty Food Co, HW Nevill's, The Grower's Harvest, Stockwell & Co, Ms Molly's, Butcher's Choice, Creamfields, Eastman's, Suntrail Farms, Rosedene Farms, Willow Farms, Woodside Farms, Redmere Farms, Nightingale Farms, Boswell Farms, Bay Fishmongers
  • Waitrose: Essential Waitrose & Partners

Know where to find them

While many shoppers want to buy only own-brand products, unfortunately they're not available at all stores.

Which? asked seven supermarkets how widely their budget ranges were available, and just four said at least some of the value range was available in all stores. These were Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Aldi said own-label items were available at all major stores but not its Local or Shop & Go locations. Lidl and Tesco did not respond to Which?

But even where the ranges are stocked – you still might not be able to find them.

Which? said huge demand meant cheaper groceries were more likely to be sold out.

It found that own-label products were out of stock on three times as many days between December 2021 to February 2022 compared to the same period two years before.

To avoid disappointment, it can help to know the days or week or times of day that your local store receives its deliveries or stocks its shelves.

And we've previously looked at the best time of day to shop for yellow sticker discounts.

Keep an eye on prices

It's easy to assume that the own-brand item will be the cheapest option, but this isn't always the case – so you still need to compare prices while you're shopping.

Looking at the shelf label can help you compare different products, as this will show that per gram or per 100g price to give you a like-for-like comparison.

Which? found that own-label standard ranges had gone up in price by 2.84% over the past year, compared to 3.15% for premium ranges.

Ellie said: "The very cheapest groceries may not even officially be in own-label budget ranges at all.

"Price-matching schemes and loyalty discounts could mean the cheapest options are from other ranges or even big brands."

Shopping around different stores can help you save more though.

Which? found there was a difference of 44p between the cheapest and most expensive 400g pack of cooked ham – it was £1.59 at Asda but £2.03 at Sainsbury's.

A 300g pack of Macaroni cheese was £1.19 at Asda and £1.89 at Tesco.

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Websites such as Trolley can help you compare – it will show you the price of the same product at different stores.

You can cut costs further by making use of loyalty discounts, such as Tesco's Clubcard or Sainsbury's Nectar, which get you access to offer other shoppers don't get.

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