Saturday, 7 January 2017

When Essential is not Essential?

In Asda the other day I noticed a whole aisle of what they are calling 'Stock Up Essentials' for 50p and £1 but they are all posher branded stuff or things that anyone on a budget would never buy or maybe just things that I would never buy............. I reckon that out of the 100+ items on their website labeled as 50p "essentials" I only ever buy one...........Heinz baked beans.

So if you avoid this aisle you can find real essentials - like tinned tomatoes- for less than 50p anyway. Tinned tomatoes are definitely on my essentials list and other items I count as essential are things like flour, butter, carrots. NOT Pot Noodles in 10 varieties.
 
Have to make an admission here sort of related to the above...................I don't find many yellow sticker bargains.
 Why?
Two reasons - I hate going shopping in the evenings which is when you have to go to get the best reductions and secondly quite often they are things we don't eat. We spent the first few years of our married life on one very low  wage, two children came along quickly and we were also trying to move up the housing ladder to a smallholding. We ate Basics everything including the cheapest sliced bread and spread  and I vowed that once we had the smallholding we would be as self-sufficient as possible and never eat tasteless or over processed  food again. So even if Pot Noodles etc were being given away for pennies I still wouldn't buy them - too many weird sounding ingredients. That's why I make curries from curry powder and vegetables, pasta sauces from veg and tinned tomatoes, cakes from flour, sugar and butter.

Here is another admission..............things have slipped since we've been in town and Colin has been ill, the upheaval threw me off course ..........I've been buying bread, biscuits and sometimes cakes. When I get back to cooking with gas I'll start doing all my own stuff again. That's the plan.......... which I hope I can fit it between all the hospital trips.

This is the sort of LPG cooker I would like but until we can get the pipework sorted we will be cooker-less as there is no electric cooker point and the lady is taking her Everhot (a sort of cross between an electric Rayburn and a storage heater) with her.There is a doorway from kitchen to dining room right where the pipework needs to go  so not a straight forward plumping-in job. It may be several weeks until I can get bread making and baking again!

Going back to shopping...........

The other things I often see yellow sticker reduced are ready chopped vegetables or fruit - something else I don't buy. With so many years of growing our own fruit and vegetables and eating straight from the garden I believe that anything that's been chopped before packaging has already lost a lot of the vitamins and has probably been handled more often than I'd like to know about.
 I hope we'll be able to grow some of our own vegetables again once we move even if age, illness and space mean we will  never be as self-sufficient as we were for our smallholding years.
And although I'd love goats again........it's never going to happen. Chickens - yes should be do-able.

Back Soon
Sue


49 comments:

  1. Sue, I am a yellow sticker queen and find it works really well. I am lucky in that I can walk to the supermarket so I don't waste fuel to get there. I work full time too so its not like I have all the time in the world but I have made myself aware will be reduced each day. There are 4 areas in the supermarket I go to where they make final reductions.............if you know where they are, you get the good deals.

    For example so far in After Christmas/January in the last 2 weeks, I've had £80 worth of food that I've paid less than £12 for.

    Best item was one I confess I stalked which was an organic fresh bronze turkey with pork and citrus stuffing which was going for over £50. I knew they wouldn't sell them all and at 4pm I was there and got one for £5 !!!! There were 3 of them..............some Yellow Sticker folk say take all that is there but that's not my approach, I always leave some for the Next Guy. I also have whole swede, cabbage, asparagus (!!!!) and fruit all for 10p each. I got 2 750g packs of mushrooms also at 10p each, one went making homemade soup, the other we've cooked with. Also meat wise I got 2 packs of gammon and pineapple @50p each, each serves 2. We ate one and put another in the freezer. I also got a big prepared bowl of salad which I ate over 2 days for lunches and it was a lovely fresh mix, that was 10p too.

    Same with bread, all at 5p or 10p.

    Yes there will sometimes be mainly processed food, pizzas etc but we eat very well and healthily by being there at the right time. I leave the processed food, but there is plenty of choice. Fish is also often reduced...........whole trout for 10p for example. In fact theres a mix of monkfish, gurnard and haddock ( each bought for 25p or less that is sitting in the freezer now waiting to become a bouillabaisse !

    One day this week I costed our food bill as around 10p each ! We had a toasted English muffin for breakfast ( homemade jam, we have an allotment and greenhouse ) then the reduced salad with crusty rolls at lunch and the gammon with mushrooms and home grown spuds for dinner.

    Yellow stickering does pay, honestly ! Love your blog and all the best to Col, hope he is building up his strength again !

    Rinty

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    1. I'm sure it does work out cheaper but it's not for me, I cut down in other places to make up for not buying cheap food

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  2. I agree with what you say Sue - what the supermarket deems 'essential' is rarely what I would. And their vegetables always seem a bit 'tired' too. Our Friday market is the place to buy fresh veg and fish - nowhere else comes anywhere near in quality (and price too).

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    1. I'm loving having a proper greengrocers with really good choice within walking distance - one of the few things about town I shall miss

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  3. I don't buy yellow stickers either as I rarely go in a supermarket. I've still managed to stick to a monthly grocery budget of £100 for nearly 5 years though. It's fairly easy now it's just 2 of us, but at one time that was for 4 adults. I'd never touch a pot noodle either, and I buy Branston beans for less than 50p per tin so Asda's price for a tin of beans seems quite expensive to me.

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    2. I noticed someone saying somewhere that branston beans were as good as heinz. We stopped buying basics beans because they have more liquid in than beans!

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  4. Not a yellow sticker shopper here, not very often I am in a supermarket, I have found in the world foods aisle you can get essentials a lot cheaper, rice and tinned tomatoes for example.

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    1. The world foods aisles around here are very small 'tho there are some ethnic shops I ought to look at

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    1. We are very keen, if only solicitor would get skates on

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  6. Bless you I couldn't have said it any better myself. Nothing on stickers (unless it's proper cheese which I sometimes manage to get) is ever anything we eat. I care too much about what I put into my body to buy most of the stickered stuff in our Sainsbury's which include low fat yoghurts full of rubbish, biscuits cake and meat with no identification leading me to believe they are produced from the worst farming methods ever.

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    1. Some very weird ingredients in some foods. I do my best to avoid over processed as much as possible

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  7. I very rarely get any yellow sticker food and if I do it will only be 'whole' vegetables. I once made the mistake of buying a bag of carrot batons (full price so supposedly fresh) for quickness...oh my life...you should have smelt them. It was like opening a bag with a dirty dishcloth in...yuck. Also I am squeamish about meat as it is without buying any that is going out of date and ready meals I wouldn't touch with a barge pole even when they are freah. Andy used to work in a factory where they make the ready meals...enough said.
    A cooker very similar to that one is in my wish list folder on Pinterest although we would have to have an all electric one.
    Hope Col is OK.
    Hugs-x-

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    1. Yes thanks, he is much better, just needs to build up energy again

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  8. Good post, we don't buy many yellow stickers, we just make sure if what we love is on special we stock up. I get really cross seeing ready prepared fruit and veg, my sister uses them alot. Apart from the extra cost, you just become lazy in using them. My sister says the packets are the right size for two people and there is no waste, sounds like a convenient excuse.

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    1. Ready chopped anything I just don't get - and grated cheese?

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  9. I saw the advert for this on TV and said almost exactly the same as you to DH. I was probably not quite so nice about it. Most of what's on offer is 'junk' or can be bought cheaper elsewhere unless you really must have Heinz over other brands. Most of the range on offer is definitely not what I'd class as essentials. DS2 (23) thought the Pot Noodles a good offer but he can buy them himself if he wants them. I did get one tin of Heinz sausage and beans for DS1 to compare quality with a tin from Morrisons value range that was 12p cheaper. I'm not enamoured of Heinz beans myself, I prefer Aldi's beans (not their value range but the others that are 99p for a pack of 4) over any others except perhaps Branston if they're on a good offer. I do look out for Yellow stickers as I go around the shops but don't make a special effort to shop at a certain time of day and I don't like going out in the evening to look; once I'm all cosy indoors with a cuppa and my feet up it would take an earthquake to budge me.

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    1. I shall try those Aldi beans or Branstons although we only have beans about once a month so not a big saving

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  10. I don't buy yellow sticker stuff either but the Co-op near us often has a trolley of reduced bread, fruit and veg and I've picked up a few bargains on the odd occasion I pop in there.

    Had to laugh about the pot noodles. Joan was a terrible cook and Mark swears that if it wasn't for pot noodle he'd never have made it to adulthood!

    Never buy pre-cut veg after buying carrot sticks. They were disgusting. All dry and curled up. I would never buy pre-bagged salad either and have never eaten any salad in a restaurant because I don't trust it to have been washed properly. Proved my point a couple of years ago when Mark found a magpie feather in his salad in a well known chain. YUK!

    Love the cooker by the way. xx

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    1. pre bagged salad is high on the list of things people with low immunity shouldn't eat. two people saying the same about carrot batons. mad really as a bag of whole carrots are only pennies and keep well if removed from bag and put on dry tea towel in salad drawer

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  11. I love my yellow stickers but I find the ready chopped veg goes off really quickly so I don't buy those often.

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    1. All the cut bits exposed to air can't be good for keeping quality

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  12. I will never be a yellow sticker shopper as I can never get there when the bargains are released either. Also, my idea of yellow sticker bargains is not 40 boxes of Mr Kipling French Fancies that are a week out of date because the store failed to correctly rotate stock and 20p off is not a bargain for such out of date products. I've started shopping own brands instead. Pot Noodles have never been an essential item and never will be ~ unless made from scratch as seen by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall once.

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    1. I used to take pot noodles for evening break when I worked late at the library as there was only a kettle available. that was when I was young and didn't know better!

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  13. Sue you must not describe it as an admission that you have been buying bread and biscuits whilst Col has been ill - whatever makes things easier.x

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    1. I'm sure I ought to have been able to fit baking in, it was just not being in the right frame of mind

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  14. We don't buy pre-cut vegetables or fruit as I believe it encourages laziness nor do we buy grated cheese. Doesn't take long to do these yourself at home. We don't go out of our way to buy reduced or yellow stickered things, but if we come across anything we use we'll get a few.
    Personally I think we could be better shoppers than we are, but as it is my husband who mainly does the shopping and hates it I can't say too much. He's learning bless him.
    As for the essentials items I don't believe supermarkets are there to do us any favours. They are in business to make a profit at all costs and will use any ploy to see it happens.

    Joan (Wales)

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    1. Yes , mustn't trust a thing that supermarkets say!

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  15. I spotted that aisle in Asda yesterday, but nothing on it that I wanted or needed to buy, and anyway some of the things were actually cheaper as different brands on the normal shelves ... it's all a con to try and get us to part with some more money when most of us still have extra stuff over from the Christmas holidays already n our cupboards.

    I do peruse the 'yellow sticker' shelves but usually only pick up good meat reductions for LH or some bread if we happen to be in store late in the day. Last week we got 5 wholemeal loaves for 10p each, all of which were put straight into the freezer when we got home, and ten cucumbers at 5p each ... one for us and the rest have been given to the chickens each day as something to occupy them, they don't like being confined to mini 'chicken world'.

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    1. When we had to shut them up years ago for bird flu we were able to move one of the sheds to near the polytunnel so they went in there and we asked the local nursery garden for any cabbage leaves etc which they normally just ploughed back in and got bags fuul for a few weeks. Chickens love a cucumber or a squash or pumpkin or squishy tomatoes don't they?

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  16. We've got an Everhot, Sue, we wouldn't be without it.It makes the most tender stews,and soups just cook themselves.It is what the shops call "a considered purchase" but ours is worth it's weight in gold,I haven't bought a loaf or a cake for years,and I don't consider myself an expert cook.I don't blame your new house's owner taking it with her!

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    1. Trouble is they are now around £8000! It would make life much easier for us to get one to slot straight in. But I like the self-sufficiency of LPG and being able to get cylinders from various places and not needing electric

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  17. I so agree about what stores think are essentials. Fresh in season fruit and veggies are essential, flour to make bread, eggs, butter, etc, but not process foods ever.

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    1. Soup in packets was another thing they reckon is essential

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  18. I find it interesting what supermarkets like to tell us are our 'essentials'. Beans, yeah, I suppose, but some of the others I in that aisle definitely not. I noticed a glut of yellow stickers in Asda yesterday morning, but I don't bother to look. I just can't be faffed. Is that bad of me? I'd rather stick to my list than rootle through hoping there might be something I can use.

    I love a pot noodle though, so I bought two. I'm probably going to be stuck by lightning now for admitting it! So I'm off ... to have a pot noodle! ha ha ha ;o)
    love to you both, hope Col is starting to feel tons better. x

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    1. Yes Col is feeling lots better, still no energy though. Hopefully he'll pick up next week. Enjoy those noodles!

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  19. Middle of winter but I am about to plant lettuce seed in a cold frame on south side of the house-can't stand one more supermarket wilted lettuce-if doesn't work will go without.

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    1. Fingers crossed for your seeds. The only supermarket lettuce we eat are little gem. Why people buy tasteless iceberg I have no idea

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  20. Only one store here has yellow stickers and when I checked them out once the meat looked a bit off. Sticking to shopping sales at my regular grocers. At least I know what I am getting is fresh.

    God bless.

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    1. Aldi meat always looks a bit sad - I don't buy meat there at all

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  21. I rarely buy markdowns. I can't seem to find any good ones and when there are some it's not generally what I use. I try to shop sales and make menus from what is on sale. I'm really trying to do better. Have cut our bill way down from what we used to spend when I was working outside the home.

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  22. The shopping catalogs here (Australia) are often filled with specials on processed foods - chips, chocolates, sauces, frozen meals etc. Instant noodles, those ones in a cup with sprinkle on flavouring too! I just think those foods are unhealthy and so don't buy them. We are lucky in that we have a good greengrocer, markets, and a fantastic butcher/wholefoods shop close by that we can shop at for ingredients to make food here at home. I feel lucky that I have the time now in my life to shop/cook this way but I've also been in that place, where I've been working full or close to full time, and I haven't had the time to do so as much. I think that sometimes, depending on what's going on in life, we just have to do the best we can. I hope your Col is okay, Sue.
    Meg

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  23. My Mother in law uses a little bench top oven when it is just herself to cater for - we picked it up for $79 new and it works a treat. She reckons it is heaps cheaper to run too.....might e worth a thought.

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  24. I don't eat many tomatoes (nightshades) but tinned tomatoes are just the worst for me. They taste of metal and have way too much salt plus all sorts of bad additives for me. I like the jar ones or ones in the box. But then I do not use many tomatoes.

    cheers, parsnip

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  25. We shop in Lidl for cleaning products, which are excellent at least half what we'd pay, for example, for dishwasher tabs in any other supermarket. I also like their washing machine detergent liquid. And their Belarom ground coffee is lovely. Buy flowers there, too, and such things as foil, loo rolls, kitchen rolls, and some fruit and veg but not all. Indeed, I'm picky about what goes into my mouth (which doesn't mean to say that I don't think others are; I'm sure everyone reading this is also careful). After all, we are what we eat, and one only has to consider that if something is dirt cheap (and I don't mean reduced because it's close or on sell-by date), the ingredients must be of a lower quality, surely, if the manufacturer, the transporter, and the shop still have to make a profit?
    In Waitrose, where we shop for food, there are seldom 'yellow sticker' goods.
    My mantra is buy fewer things but the best quality I can afford. I make cakes from scratch, all our meals from scratch, "convenience" food means a can of chopped tomatoes! We never have take-aways, we don't eat pizza, we don't buy wine (we just don't like it), we don't buy fizzy drinks and only occasionally do we have a treat and buy mineral water. As for pot-noodles ... who eats them? OK perhaps for students who haven't yet learned to cook, but surely, pot noodles are the food equivalent of a grown-up ready a comic?
    We still watch the pennies but my aim is to buy the best quality most nourishing food I can find. Not things close to sell- or use-by date, but the freshest with the longest use-by date possible. I've also started to buy Cranks wholemeal bread which is lovely and much the same price as Hovis! It's not sliced and if you have a sharp bread knife it can be sliced thinly and it's not pumped full of air, so is more economical.
    I find the best way to save money on food is portion control. I stretch the left-over chicken from a roast into not just curry for two, but curry for two for two meals, not one. We don't buy crisps, peanuts, sweets, or anything which is unnecessary, but use a lot of milk (source of calcium), walnuts, brazils, and cashews, and the best of those come from Lidl. And, finally, if we buy chocolate which we do occasionally, we buy good quality chocolate - Green & Black, Lindt, Carhonnel & Walker - and then have just a piece each of an evening. Lovely!
    Margaret P

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  26. I meant "reading a coming" not "ready": my fingers can't spell!
    Margaret P

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  27. Late to this conversation, but wanted to share I've had food poisoning twice from marked down (past prime) food bought at the grocery store. 2 years ago I was hospitalized overnight with a particularly bad reaction to a marked down beef roast and later for marked down produce that smelled off. No one else in my household got as sick. Still, I won't risk it again. Besides, vegetables from the garden taste so much better. Probably because they're so fresh. I do buy frozen vegetables when they're on sale, and some canned vegetables, but no longer buy "fresh" mark downs.

    I used to bake bread at least once a week. Now that my sons are older, they eat fewer sandwiches and fresh bread goes stale quickly. Homemade bread is a rare treat now, but a treat it is! That LPG cooker looks amazing.

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    1. I totally agree. The freshest of food is something on which I won't compromise. We can cut back on other things but it's best to buy the best food we can. Always. We are what we eat. When my husband had minor surgery on his face (well into his 70s at that time) the surgeon was truly amazed at how quickly his skin healed and he said apart from his genes, it was mainly down to a good diet (and my husband was kind enough to say that he had his wife to thank for that.) Like you, Elise,I would not risk reduced-price 'fresh' food.
      Margaret P

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