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?