Let me talk you through the bargains, experimental items, and regretted purchases from my recent Asda online grocery shop. Looking into other people's trolleys when you're waiting in line is always eye-opening, and maybe you'll pick up a money-saving tip or two!
1. Fruit squash, a cheaper alternative to fruit juice. 1 ltr of Asda hi-juice blackcurrant (unfortunately the only thing apart from milk and water that Secundus drinks) and 1 ltr of Asda hi-juice florida orange. Special offer - two litres for £2.50. I usually buy a couple of litres a week and will continue to stockpile while they are on special offer. I'm not kidding myself that this is a healthy drink even if it says it is 40% fruit. When no longer on offer, I will look at lower sugar versions.
2. Skimmed milk powder. 340g for £1.88 This is not exactly cheap but I am going to start using it as a replacement for fresh milk in recipes. This is an experiment. I would rather save our fresh milk for cereal, coffees etc. Using MySupermarket.com I will put a price alert on this so that in future, I only buy it when it is at a lower price.
3. Red meat. Lean steak mince 500g and Diced Beef Casserole 465g. Special offer - two packs for £7. I can't afford to buy meat if it is not on special offer, and this is hardly steak. The diced beef works very well if it is slow-cooked for at least eight hours. I use it in Cornish pasties. The mince is used for spag bol and lasagne, when my kids decide they like them again.
4. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. 1kg for £1.50. On special offer - a "savvy buy" on MySupermarket - and we were just running out of margarine. I also buy a pack or two of butter, as the King prefers it, and try not to use butter in baking and cooking, as it is so expensive. Instead we save it for buttered toast: mmmm!
5. Salad. Inspired by an idea in Essentials magazine, I bought radishes, romaine lettuces, celery, and baby spinach leaves with a plan to making a large mixed salad to be kept refrigerated for the week, for the King and I to add as a side dish to our meal (the kids don't regard salad as a foodstuff). Although some of these items were on special offer, the whole salad wound up pretty pricey and I think I could do a much cheaper version.
6. Moo Organic Semi Skimmed Milk, two litres for £1.50. Special offer. I prefer the taste of this to normal UHT milk. I keep it in the cupboard for those times where I have just made myself a coffee, opened the fridge, and found we have run out of milk. I have on occasion mixed it half and half with fresh milk, with little complaint. Using UHT is cheaper than going to the corner shop.
7. Bread. I only buy loaves that are £1 each, and make one loaf a week by hand. They are stockpiled in the freezer.
8. Flat leaf parsley. This is growing in a little tub next to the basil on my windowsill. I should be able to make it last several months. I bought it to go with the mixed salad, but basil would've done, really.
9. Shed-loads of cereal. Asda only does special offers (e.g. three boxes for £3) on the most unhealthy, sugary/ chocolatey cereals, which is really annoying. Although I mix my own muesli, seeing the amount of cereal we buy has made me start thinking about finding alternative foods for breakfast, especially at weekends.