Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Grand Experiment Begins

Back in Yeovil, there was a choice of two supermarkets, Asda and Tesco. The Asda was twice as far from home as the Tesco, and was not well stocked, and so I fell into shopping at Tesco by default.

In Falkirk, the town centre has an Asda, a Tesco and a Morrisons, all within half a mile of each other. However, out of pure inertia, I have continued shopping at Tesco. The thing is that while each of the supermarkets will claim that they sell some number of things cheaper than their rivals, that statistic is actually rather meaningless. The key questions are, instead, which supermarket sells the things that I buy most cheaply? And, do they sell all the things that I actually want to buy?

Of course, there's another wrinkle to this, which is that the list of things I buy is not the same each week. Where possible, I buy things in bulk, which means that the cost varies. And that means that a simple one-week comparison shop just won't get to the heart of the matter.

So, instead, I have started a grand experiment, one that will last for the next twelve weeks. The plan is simple: for four consecutive weeks I will shop at one of the supermarkets, keep track of what was bought and the costs, and also anything that they didn't have. At the end of the four weeks, I will have an approximate monthly total for that supermarket. Once all three are done, a choice can be made.

One caveat: there may be key items that get discounted from comparison (indeed, there is one this first week), because they represent an unusual expense. For example, the food and drink I'll be buying for the housewarming party won't be counted in the totals. Naturally, these will be marked appropriately.

And so, week one. The store of the month is Tesco. I got everything that was on my list.
The itemised list is as follows:

  • "Quantum of Solace" DVD, £7 (not counted)
  • Toilet rolls (9), £4.72
  • Muller Lite yoghurt (12), £5
  • Microwave Steamed Veg, £1.25
  • Cooked Chicken, £1.80
  • Milk (4 pints), £1.72
  • Bread (2 loaves), £1.30
  • Basmati Rice, £3.36
  • Turmeric, £1.26
  • Fennel Seeds, £1.61
  • Whole Cloves, £2.34
  • Fruit Juice (2 litres), £2
  • Tomatoes (6), £0.80
  • Lettuce, £0.98
  • Bananas (6), £0.66
  • Onions (2), £0.24
  • Greek Yoghurt, £0.65
  • Mouthwash (blue), £2
  • Whole Almonds (700g), £2.99
The total was £41.68, but once the DVD is discounted, this drops to £34.68.

Note: this post has been edited with the addition of the last two items.

#13, "Emperor: The Death of Kings", by Conn Iggulden

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