Shopping: ‘My Lidl Challenge’

I am a food snob- I happily admit to that and don’t see it as a particularly bad thing. I am a fussy eater, I don’t like an awful lot of things and when I know what I like I stick to it. With money always being at the forefront of my mind I am always trying to work out where and how we can save as a family. I do always look for the bargains in the supermarket, but with so many adverts now clearly showing us how much we can save at the likes of Aldi’s and Lidl, it got me to wondering if I could completely change from my comfort shop to one that could save my family hundreds of pounds (possibly) every few months.

My sister in law told me how she had filled her trolley in Aldi’s for a mere £60 for a family of four (2 young children). I was fascinated by this and the first question I asked was around the quality of the food. She had been impressed and was happy to continue shopping there. So there it was, at Sunday lunch, laughing that I was indeed a food snob, I agreed to the challenge of trying to and swap and save- but in Basingstoke we don’t have Aldi so I agreed to try Lidl.

As I walked up to the shop the first thing I discovered was that I had to pay for a trolley- now I know a lot of supermarkets make you do this, but I shop at Sainsbury’s who have free ones. So without a pound and with a wriggling toddler I went in to try and find a member of staff- not very easily done. Luckily when I did she handed me a token that could be used in the trolley instead of the pound coin (not sure if I was meant to keep it, but I did! lol)

Walking around I was pleasantly surprised at how smart and tidy it all looked- yep, starting to sound like a posh snob now! The bakery area was lovely. Freshly baked bread, rolls, croissants and so on, all displayed beautifully and with brown paper bags to put them in. It was easy to see where everything was and as there was a lack of choice, I could pick out the best priced items quickly. The fruit and veg was the section I was dreading- I am extremely fussy about my fruit. But again it was well presented and looked fresh and their oranges were huge! Oranges are my fave fruit but can also be a pain to try and buy. I have bought 3 batches of mouldy ones in Tesco, other store’s ones have been dry or hard- Sainsbury’s is the only place I now trust.

Moving on through the store and I reached the cold sections. The cheese was an amazing price but I struggled to pick meats or snacky items such as quiche, as the look of some of it put me off. I was disappointed at the yoghurts range and could not get anything for my son (I guess Peppa Pig isn’t as well known in Germany!). As for my muller corners, they did have a few but not the strawberry flavour. I was brave (haha) and opted for one of their own greek yoghurt brands with strawberry sauce. Then I became a little confused as to which direction was the best way to go. With baskets of cheap goodies catching your eye, people stopping without warning and the aisle flow not really happening I ended up going up and down and up and down which seemed to waste my time.

I managed to grab some eggs, milk, jam, mayonnaise and even a bottle of Asti (my fave!) Then gave up with anything else as the range just wasn’t there (nappies, calpol, chunky soup) but I had 5 bags worth so it was a good amount to make a good comparison.

Then I hit the funniest part of the shop- the till points. I said to the lady ‘oh there’s not much space here for packing’. It turns out that’s because you are meant to fill your trolley, load it all onto the conveyor belt, it gets beeped through and you put it back into your trolley to then move over to the ‘packing shelf’ located over at the window, so you take your shopping out of the trolley again and pack it, then put it all back into the trolley to take to your car where you….wait for it…..take it all out of the trolley yet again to get into the boot! (then when home you unpack it again lol). I was worn out just from her saying all this to me. I chose to do it the British way and not the German way, so just packed at the speed of light!

The biggest shock, yep, I do believe my jaw hit the ground- the price. When the lady said £28.94 I took quite a few minutes to even hand her my card! For the amount I had bought I was sure she had it wrong; I was expecting it to come to at least £40. My Sainsbury’s shop of 5 bags the week before (not all the same items) was £55. I practically skipped out of the shop and messaged my friends bragging about my savings!

However, once home I still had to do the all important taste test. The croissants I must say were the best I have ever tasted. The fruit (except for the tiniest satsumas I have ever seen) was all good too, as was the veg. I even enjoyed the yoghurts. The bread was their own and I am sorry to say it didn’t match up to the brand I usually buy. Neither did the awful sausage rolls I bought- 1 bite and it went in the bin! Everything else was all ok and I thought this could be the start of me being converted…………

Unfortunately I discovered that if it turns out you can’t get all the items under one roof, you then end up taking up a lot of time over the week getting the other bits. So it really depends how you like to spend your time and your week. When I shop in Sainsbury’s I know I can get everything I need as they have every brand, all your toiletries, medicines, pet food (my dog is on pedigree senior, Lidl didn’t have this brand), household items (I didn’t see any decent dishwasher tablets), even clothing and electricals. Then on the way out I can buy petrol, then I pass pets at home to pick up the cat food. It’s a quick little run out for me and then I have the rest of the week not having to worry.

Last week I found myself in home bargains to get the household items I needed as well as baby wipes. I ended up in Sainsbury’s anyway to buy dog food, nappies and Calpol, then to pets at home for cat food. Even after all this I still forgot items as my head seemed to be all out of sync and I couldn’t think of what I had and what I needed! If you have an ill/teething toddler and you haven’t slept you will understand this.

Today I found myself back in Sainsbury’s doing my full shop. I knew where everything was so was in and out quickly. I picked up every item I needed, including a valentines day card for this week. I went straight to an empty till and had loads of space to pack. I had some coupons from our last shop and of course collected nectar points (£56 on there at the moment). Points on loyalty cards are usual in most of our supermarkets now, so it’s difficult to weigh up precisely how much money you are saving, because I could have taken £56 off my shop today just with one swipe of a card.

So, it’s a personal choice really depending on how you shop, what you buy and how many shops you like to visit each week. For me, I like to save time more than money it seems. Time is precious and with a ever growing child I would rather be doing activities with him than dragging him round lots of stores to get our weekly shop.

In conclusion, you cannot convert this food snob, but at least I gave it a go 😉

(I may pop back for those fab croissants though!)


Em xx

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