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Are budget foods just as good as premium brands?

Supermarkets love to tempt us into buying their premium own-brand and branded food with mouth-watering claims that they’re tastier, finer, artisanal or just more fabulous all-round than budget alternatives.

But is there really much difference – apart from the fancy packaging and the price tag? Do you regularly buy a cheaper product and find that it does just fine? Maybe it even works better for what you use it for.

I’ve certainly found that can be true. Through trial and error, I’ve found out what I like when shopping in the supermarket for my weekly meals and it isn’t always those supposedly irresistible premium ranges.

Budget foods we’re happy to buy

I will happily buy budget tortilla chips for making nachos. And feta cheese and rice also seem perfectly good for the dishes I make with them.

But I’ve tried cheaper tomatoes and…well…I just don’t like them. Their starchy flavourlessness ruins a perfectly good sandwich, I find. So for salads and sandwiches, I’m afraid it’s the more expensive ones for me.

So as someone who loves a bargain, I was interested to know when others are happy to settle for the cheaper alternative and when it really is necessary to spend more.

Tinned tomatoes and tomato passata are items that are commonly traded down. But tomato sauce? Don’t mess around with the cheaper options – go for the branded, more expensive options, many people told me.

Other examples of where my colleagues trade down are on budget tinned veg and beans that might be cooked in a dish. But, when something is eaten on its own, such as yogurt or cornflakes, they tend to buy the more expensive product.

Chocolate, cheese, olive oil and pizza especially seem to be foods where only the best is good enough.

Do you agree? Which premium foods do you think are worth buying and which can you do without? Are there ways that you make a cheaper product taste better by cooking or preparation?

Comments
Member

When food shopping, I think there’s a lot to be said for buying whatever you fancy – and then buying it again if you liked it.

In general, more expensive items are often nicer than cheaper items. I have discovered that both Sansbury’s and Waitrose have some really nice own brand product ranges, including “premium” offerings.

Member

I agree that Sainsbury’s are certainly climbing up the quality scale and leaving Tesco behind. I also believe Tesco have delisted no end of products as part of their profits restoration agenda which obviously favours their own-label versions. I am not familiar with Asda and Morrisons. M&S don’t seem to have grades of product [value, regular, premium] – everything is excellent quality but some of it is not to our taste [I think they over-egg most things in order to differentiate them and their “Spirit of Summer” range is over-pepped for comfort in the back of the mouth]. Like Waitrose, their unimproved lines are perfect.