Food in St Andrews is notoriously pricey. With the second most expensive Tesco in the country, it’s not surprising that students can spend up to £100 a week on food. With a little planning, however, eating well doesn’t mean breaking the bank.
This week I stopped by each of the main supermarkets – Tesco, Aldi, and Morrisons – in order to seek out the best deals.
The basics don’t have to be expensive: Tesco, Aldi, and Morrisons all have similarly priced value brands. An 800g loaf of bread at the three shops will cost you 47-50p, a kilo of rice is 40p and spaghetti is 20-23p for 500g, or 29p for penne.
Meat is a little trickier, since quality is so variable. Aldi had the cheapest fresh mince for just £3.59 a kilo but I’ve heard less than stellar reviews, so it may be worth paying the extra 40p for Tesco or Morrisons.
It probably isn’t worth walking all the way to Morrisons for fresh meat, however, as it’s consistently more expensive than the far more convenient Tesco (chicken is £2.78 vs £2.48 a kilo, and a kilo of pork chops costs £7.28 vs £6.49). But their frozen meats are worth a try – I won’t buy another pack of 20 sausages for £1.10, but eight chicken burgers for 97p was a pretty good deal.
The best deal on eggs is at Aldi, with just 79p for six (87p at Tesco and Morrisons). If you want to know that the hens were well treated, the price bumps up to just 95-97p at Aldi and Morrisons, but £1.46 at Tesco.
Dairy is definitely cheapest at Aldi, with two litres of whole milk costing only 79p, compared with £1.23 at Morrison’s and £1.50 at Tesco. Cheese is also only £4.73 for a kilo at Aldi, but £5.20 at Morrisons and £5.90 at Tesco.
Tesco ketchup, at just 47p for a kilo, was close to half the price of the Aldi and Morrisons brands. Tesco butter, on the other hand, was over £1.50 for 500 grams, compared to 89p at Aldi, or just 75p for “sunflower spread.” The best deal, though, is buying a full kilo of “sandwich spread” for £1.35 at Morrisons.
Value brands of cider and vodka were priced identically at each store: £13.86 a litre for vodka, and £1.00 a litre for cider. Beer was expensive at Aldi, costing £2.45 for four cans of lager, comparable to £1.00 at both Tesco and Morrisons.
Wine, on the other hand, was definitely cheapest at Aldi, with most bottles somewhere in the £3-6 range. Tesco wine was expensive with a poor selection (the cheapest wine was £4.67, and stored in a carton!), whereas Morrisons had a great selection of more expensive wines as well as some for as little as £2.49.
Non-alcoholic drinks are cheapest at Tesco and Morrisons, with cola costing just 17p for 2 litres, and tea at 27p for 80 tea bags. Squash is cheaper at Morrisons, with 30p for a litre compared to 42p for 750ml at Tesco. I’ve been assured that the cola and tea are decent, but, from personal experience, I’d suggest staying far away from the overly-sugary Morrisons squash.
Aldi carries reasonably priced vegetables – just 45p for a head of lettuce, 89p for three peppers, and 99p for six vine tomatoes. To compare, lettuce is £1.00 at Tesco and Morrisons, peppers are £1.55-1.75, and tomatoes are £1.55 at Tesco. Some may question Aldi’s quality, but I actually prefer their lettuce to Morrisons’.
The cheapest fruit varies between stores: apples are 40p at Tesco, 20p at Morrisons, and 13p at Aldi, but I think that Morrisons’ look nicest. Oranges are 30p, 15p, and 20p, respectively, and a kilo of grapes will cost, £4.00, £2.78, or £5.00. I’d advise shopping around to find your own balance between cost and quality.
Cornflakes were just 31p for 500g at Tesco and Morrisons, but I’d be hesitant about the taste. (Then again, for 31p, why not give them a try?) Aldi’s cornflakes were more expensive, at 99p, but there were various other kinds of non-Aldi brand cereal, all for around a pound.
If you’re looking for a quick tea-time biscuit snack, a 400g pack of rich tea biscuits is just 60p at Morrisons, 69p at Tesco, or 23p for 300g at Aldi. Store brand chocolate is also affordable, with 100g for just 30p at Tesco and Aldi.
In short, there are plenty of ways for the money-conscious student to skim a few pounds off their weekly grocery shop. Taking a walk down to Aldi or opting for the value brand could end up making a decent dent in your student loans – or leave you with a few extra quid for going out on a Friday night.