I do like a good lasagne. It’s probably a good job as this is the second one I’ve made within ten days – all in the name of blogging, of course, I am normally much better at meal planning than this! This is the second of two posts (you can read the first one here) on the topic of branded versus supermarket own brand products, looking at whether the extra money we are encouraged to spend on branded groceries is actually worth it.
Whereas last week I used a new Dolmio kit, along with Pizza Express bread and Lake District Dairy Co cheese to make my lasagne, this week I used Sainsbury’s own branded white sauce, their basic red sauce, some Sainsbury’s farmhouse mature cheddar (which is actually the one I usually buy anyway), and Sainsbury’s own pizza style garlic and cheese bread. I used the same amount of lean beef mince, courgette and mushrooms (purchased elsewhere) as before, and resisted any temptation to add anything else such as onion on herbs or other seasoning.
The Own-Brand Lasagne Menu
- Beef and vegetable lasagne made using Sainsbury’s white sauce, Sainsbury’s Basics pasta sauce and Sainsbury’s basics lasagne sheets, topped with Sainsbury’s Farmhouse Mature Cheddar, served with Sainsbury’s Cheese and Garlic Pizza Bread.
- Sainsbury’s Honeycomb & Caramel or Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
- Sainsbury’s Pressed Apple Juice.
You need to read the rest of this post with an idea of the costs in your mind. As that is the point of this challenge, after all. You will know that the meal I cooked last week cost £24.25 – the total cost of this one was £14.25. Quite some difference! Using only own branded products saved me a considerable sum on what was essentially the same menu. To give you a comparison on the components; the Dolmio kit was £4.50, but the Sainsbury’s sauces and lasagne sheets cost a total of £2.05, the ice cream was £2.50 per tub this time (£4.70 last time), and the Sainsbury’s juice was £1.75 versus £3.25 for the branded version. Significant. And don’t forget that cost can be split down over two meals, too.
This week our lasagne was rather more sloppy than the one we had last week. The red sauce was far more watery than the Dolmio equivalent, and it was quite clear when I layered up the lasagne in my dish that it was not going to come out in nice easy to serve slices. I was right – I needed a spoon to transfer the portions across to our plates. I also found it a bit more salty than the Dolmio version. Apart from this our lasagne featuring Sainsbury’s products was perfectly good to eat. It was tasty, and provided us with two evening meals (love leftovers!). Despite not adding any additional flavouring the meal was absolutely fine.
The bread was very nice. A pizza-style garlic and cheese bread, it took the same amount of time to cook as the Pizza Express version and there was more of it! I thought the Pizza Express bread we had last time was worth the extra money but LincsGeek disagreed and said this one was better, and has told me to make sure we get it again.
For pudding I bought the equivalent Sainsbury’s ice cream to our usual choice of Ben and Jerry’s. LincsGeek had the Cookie Dough one and I had the Honeycomb & Caramel. These were really lovely; a bit different to our usual choice of frozen treat but still good – a bit of a luxury. Mine had crunchy bits of honeycomb in which I really enjoyed, and I would consider buying this again. I would buy these again when Ben & Jerry’s is not on offer! We also enjoyed the apple juice – not quite as nice but still fresh, not from concentrate, sweet, and very appley!
Was it as good as the branded meal? Well, no, to be completely honest, it wasn’t. Spending the extra money on the branded products did produce a superior dining experience at home. For all three elements – the lasagne, the ice cream and the apple juice – I preferred the branded, more expensive, option. I always knew I had expensive taste. Having said that, what we got from own branded products is perfectly acceptable, there was nothing actually wrong with it, and I certainly wouldn’t complain if I was served the Sainsbury’s version at home again. Our lasagne this week was fine, it was tasty, it was a very decent meal that filled our bellies and put a smile on our faces. It just wasn’t quite as nice as the branded meal. Was the first version £10 nicer? It probably wasn’t. I guess it’s a case of making the most of what you have. In the context of money saving, having an opportunity to save a £10 on a meal in order to use it on something else by using own-branded products instead of branded products is a no brainer really, isn’t it.
Do you only buy branded or supermarket-own brand groceries? Are there certain products you would only ever buy the leading brand? Perhaps Kelloggs cereal, Heinz baked beans, Coca Cola? Or are you always searching out a bargain and it’s always price over perceived quality? Have you tried an experiment like this on your family? What happened?
There is lots of advice about making your money go further over on the Debt Free Direct website.