Avoiding the “bargain!” mindset when food shopping

by Ali on January 8, 2008

I was in Marks & Spencer’s yesterday, dithering in front of a shelf of cheap Christmas cakes. £1.42 for a whole cake! Quite a heavy one at that – yes, I picked it up.

But I put it down again, as reason prevailed. I forced myself to remember a few things:

Why it’s not such a great offer after all

  • We currently have enough sweet things – biscuits and chocolate – to make a whole Cub Scout troop hyperactive
  • Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s a bargain. It’s only a bargain if you would have bought it (or at least strongly considered buying it) at the higher price. Would I have even thought of paying seven quid for a cake? Nope.
  • Is it something I really want to eat? Nope, again; I’d take chocolate over cake any day, and we have plenty of that.

Good bargains

  • Seasonable fruit and vegetables. Satsumas are gorgeous at this time of year, and cheap everywhere. If you shop near closing time, you may well find fresh produce impressively reduced.
  • Anything which can be frozen. Ready-meals are reduced on their “use by” date.
  • Food cupboard items. Unfortunately, useful things like ryvitas and pasta tend not to be on offer – whereas biscuits and crisps invariably are! I stock up on bottles of sauces and salad dressings when they’re half price.
  • Introductory offers on foods you haven’t tried. A lot of healthy products are cheap right now, as the supermarkets clear the festive produce for diet-friendly items. For instance, Somerfield currently has lots of their “Healthy choice” range at half-price, including staples such as cereals and low-fat meats.

Current supermarket offers

Most major supermarkets list their current deals online. Here’s a few to check out:

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