“L’Allée Breeteesh” – The British Supermarket Aisle Abroad

When abroad, taking a look at the international aisles in supermarkets can be such an eye-opener. Sure there’s the sheer fact that a whole culture can be defined by a few jars on a shelf, but that’s even before you’ve taken a look at the astronomical prices.

So imagine how excited I was, when rocking up at my local Carrefour, I stumbled upon a veritable plethora of British goods. So this is what defines British cooking and presumably, if we are to believe the 13th century principle of supply and demand, it also denotes what we Brits abroad simply can’t live without and for which we are willing to pay through the nose.

 

We may have tried to invade France before and failed but these 8 shelves are all ours.

Some of what I could make out (apologies for the wobbly picture – people were getting suspicious around me)

  • Robinson’s squash
  • Various HEINZ products including: baked beans, tomato soup, minestrone soup, baked beans with sausages (over 3 Euros for these!), macaroni cheese
  • Apple sauce
  • Tinned peas
  • Marmite (but no Bovril – shame – vegetarians win again!)
  • Branston pickle (2.65 euros)
  • Bird’s custard powder
  • Ambrosia of some form
  • Cadbury drinking chocolate (sorry, if you’re reading this in a few years and it’s now “Kraft”, as a Birmingham girl: grrr)
  • Carr’s savoury biscuits
  • Fig rolls?!!
  • Pancake mix (highly offensive on our part I feel – the French definitely know how to do a good crepe!)
  • Green’s various ready-made cake mixes (the just add water and an egg kind)
  • Shortbread
  • Lemon curd
  • Various jams and marmelades (again offensive to the French – what about Bon Maman jams?)
  • HP sauce
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Go Natural cereal bars
  • Sarson’s malt vinegar
  • Mint jelly (for the princely price of 2 euros and 53 cents – ouch)
  • What looks like a Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney Pie for what looks remarkably like 4 euros and 90 cents – shocker!
  • Colman’s mustard – the French make without a doubt some of the best mustard in the world
  • Piccalilly?! Never eaten this in my life and at over 2 euros, don’t think I will.
  • PG Tips and various other brands of tea, presumably French strength…

So I can only conclude from this that our attitude to food whilst abroad is as follows:

Never mind what it is, so long as I can smother it in some kind of sauce.

 Because just look at the amount of condiments and sauces the aisle has to offer: HP Sauce, mustard, Sarson’s vinegar, and not just savoury; sweet too: cranberry, mint jelly, even custard – no course is spared from our compulsion to cover it in another strong tasting sauce.

And even more controversially, this aisle settles the age old argument of what is the best brand of tea. In one fell and conclusive swoop, Carrefour has named the winner of this title: PG Tips. And given that it’s priceless, who knows how much us foolish Brits are willing to part with to get our mitts on it. Well, I always prefer Yorkshire Tea personally, but that’s a topic not only for another blog post but for a whole new blog!

Apologies for the blurriness - taking photos in supermarkets is a tricky business!This is how obsessed we are with tea - again apologies for the blurriness.

This is how obsessed we are with tea - again apologies for the blurriness.

THE BIG EXPERIMENT:When’s Best to Stock Up? DAY 4 13:30

When’s best to stock up? 13:30 is!

 

Just to recap on the BIG EXPERIMENT: every day this week I’ve been going to my local Tesco Express’ Reduced Aisle at a different hour each day – so Monday 10:30am, Tuesday 11:30 am and so on.

13:30 has been the most prolific time to visit so far, only just pipping 12:30pm with a total of 29 different items found. And remember this doesn’t include duplicates. This means 29 different varieties of food were available reduced, what a result!

Slim pickings in the aisle but...

As predicted, the beauties and bargains were not to be found in the reduced aisle itself but elsewhere in the store.

Dotted around I found fruit, curry, moussaka, cheesecake and even flowers.

Once again I will let the pictures and the bargains speak for themselves…

Strawberries - £2.19 to £1.55 Saving of 64p

Baby plum tomatoes - £1.50 to £1.05 Saving of 45p

Whole Roast Chicken - £4.68 to £3.26 Saving of £1.42

Posh Curries - £4 to £2.79 Saving of £1.29 on each

Cadburys Buttons Chocolate Mousses - 82p to 59p Saving of 23p

Tulips - £5 to £1.25 Saving of £3.75 - the biggest mark-down so far.

THE RESULTS:
Total items found: 29
Breakdown: 9 Fresh Vegetables/Fruit, 3 Meat/Fish, 1 Side Dishes, 5 Ready Meals, 7 Baked Goods, 2 Sandwiches, 1 Dairy/Yoghurt, 1 Inedible, 0 Drinks

Found in the aisle:

  • Sausages and Mash Ready Meal – £2 to £1.39 Saving of 61p
  • Roast Beef Slices – £2.20 to £1.55 Saving of 65p
  • Southern Fried Chicken Wrap – £2.08 to £1.45 Saving of 63p
  • Chicken Caesar Wrap – £2.30 to £1.65 Saving of 65p

but more so, look at the amount and variety of items found elsewhere in the shop:

  • Pineapple Chunks – £1.30 to 95p Saving of 35p
  • Mouthwatering Melon – £1.30 to 95p Saving of 35p
  • Juicy Fruit Twist – £1.30 to 95p Saving of 35p
  • Mini Fruit Platter – £2.08 to £1.45 Saving of 63p
  • Strawberries – £2.19 to £1.55 Saving of 64p
  • Avocado – £1.03 to 75p Saving of 28p
  • Red Grapes – £2.30 to £1.65 Saving of 65p
  • Baby Plum Tomatoes – £1.50 to £1.05 Saving of 45p
  • 2 Courgettes – £1.20 to 85p Saving of 35p
  • Finest Cumberland Sausages – £3 to £2.09 Saving of 91p
  • Whole Roast Chicken – £4.68 to £3.26 Saving of £1.42
  • Chicken Katsu Curry – £4 to £2.79 Saving of £1.29
  • King Prawn Red Thai Curry – £4 to £2.79 Saving of £1.29
  • Chicken Fajita Set – £2.80 to £1.95 Saving of 85p
  • Mini Indian Selection – £1.45 to £1.05 Saving of 40p
  • Finest Lamb Moussaka – £2.70 to £1.89 Saving of 81p
  • Braces Malted Grain Bread – £1.25 to 89p Saving of 36p
  • Hovis Wholemeal Bread – £1.05 to 75p Saving of 30p
  • Baker’s Soft White Bread – £1 to 69p Saving of 31p
  • Hovis Best of Both Bread – £1.05 to 75p Saving of 30p
  • 4 Birthday Cupcakes – £1.56 to £1.05 Saving of 51p
  • 2 Cheesecake Slices – £2 to £1.29 Saving of 71p
  • Cadbury’s Buttons Chocolate Mousse – 82p to 59p Saving of 23p
  • Cadbury’s Caramel Cake Bars – £1.35 to 89p Saving of 46p
  • Tulips – £5 to £1.25 Saving of £3.75

Total potential saving: £20.49 if you were really hungry. Personally I went for the curries as I’ve always wanted to try them, but one little tip from a seasoned reduced-aisle raider…

Don’t forget that when you’re looking for bargains, look carefully – I could have quite easily missed this hidden avocado or, more drastically the cupcakes!

Wheres the bargain?

Oh wait, there it is! Avocado - £1.03 to 75p Saving of 28p

Could have missed these birthday cupcakes as well! 4 Cupcakes - £1.56 to £1.05 Saving of 51p

THE BIG EXPERIMENT:When’s Best to Stock Up? DAY 2 11:30am

So it’s day 2 in my experiment to find out when is the most fruitful time to visit the reduced aisle.

11:30 arrived and with an excited hop in my step, off I popped to Tesco Express on City Road, this time accompanied by my trusty sidekick and companion in the art of looking dodgy in supermarkets: Momma Samways.

A number of people have asked me whether I get funny looks walking into Tesco with a notepad and start taking photos. In all honesty, the answer is no. I think they’re just worried I’m from the council, or worse one of those secret customer agencies but anyway today’s results were as follows:

Huzzah, some items to be found!

So, in the aisle I found 2 small loaves (is that the right word?!) of Soreen reduced from 82p to 55p. That’s a saving of 27p.

As with yesterday, my quest did not end here as the worrying trend continues of ditching the reduced aisle and choosing to make us hunt for things on the original shelves.

Here’s what joint forces between mama and daughter Samways found with their beady little tiny, bargain-hunting, scavvy eyes…

Tesco's Finest Pizza - £3.98 to £2.79 Saving of £1.19

2 Varieties of Sausage Rolls: with pickle or spicy pepperami, both - £1.49 to £1.05 Saving of 44p and both REGULARS in the REDUCED AISLE

Debbie and Andrew's Sausages - £2.68 to £1.89 Saving of 79p

RESULTS
Total items found: 5
Breakdown: 0 Fresh Vegetables, 1 Meat, 0 Side Dishes, 1 Ready Meals, 3 Baked Goods
Total potential saving: £3.13, fewer items gathered then yesterday but a larger saving, especially on that pizza.

Come back again tomorrow to see how I get on at 12:30 pm as the BIG EXPERIMENT enters the afternoon…