The downshift challenge: Can Home Bargains beat both Tesco AND Aldi?

How to save on shopping without coupons

I love a good coupon, but what's a girl to do when there aren't any suitable for your shop? Downshift your shop, that's what! 

Before 2020, I was an avid Aldi shopper, having been an early adopter switching to Aldi to save money even though they don't accept coupons. I no longer shop at Aldi, or do so rarely, as it saves me money. If this sounds counter-intuitive, never fear - I'll explain my exact reasoning with an example shop I did at the weekend.

In my never-ending quest to save money I've got my weekly shop down to an art; I have a list and I buy specific staples to batch-cook a big meal on Sunday that I can quickly heat up in the microwave throughout the week. This saves me both time and money as a one-hour lunch break isn't enough time to cook, and I don't want to be using an electric hob or oven multiple times a day as the cost of electricity is so high now. 

I did check, and there weren't any coupons or cashback available for items I needed for my shop at Tesco (they're not accepted in Aldi or Home Bargains), so as Martin always says, don't buy it if you don't need it! If you're looking for coupons, check our Supermarket coupons page for an up-to-date list of the best coupons and cashback available right now.

📋 What's on my shopping list?

This week, I wanted to make a big batch of sweet and sour tofu, so I set out to buy peppers, tinned pineapple, tofu, mushrooms, and broccoli. The other ingredients I already had at home. My first step (literally) to save money was to walk to the shops, instead of jumping in the car. It's about a 5min drive or 45min walk, but I have three shops I wanted to compare prices in within that distance, and I walk five kilometres a day anyway so I was feeding two birds with one dish!

Item Aldi price Tesco price Home Bargains price
🍄Mushrooms £1.19 (400g) £1.19 (Aldi match, 400g) 89p (300g)
🫑Peppers £1.69 (3-pack, ~375g) £1.69 (Aldi match, 375g) £1.65 (600g)
🍍Tinned pineapple 79p (432g, own brand)
£1.10 (425g, own brand) £1.09 (435g, Del Monte)
🫘Tofu Not available £3.50 (450g, or £2.30 for 280g) Not available
🥦Broccoli 79p (360g) 82p (Aldi match? 375g) 79p (350g)
Total: £7.96 £8.30 £7.92

Prices correct at the time of shopping

Annoyingly, not everything in each shop is directly comparable as it differed in weight, and I did find one example of a Tesco price that said it was matching Aldi where Aldi was actually "cheaper" as the broccoli weighed less (naughty). You'll also notice neither Aldi nor Home Bargains sold tofu, so I used the Tesco £3.50 price as I'd have to buy that at Tesco no matter what.

So, redoing the table to adjust for weight:

Item Aldi price Tesco price Home Bargains price
🍄Mushrooms £1.19 (400g) £1.19 (400g) £1.19 (400g equiv)
🫑Peppers £2.70 (600g equiv) £2.70 (600g equiv) £1.65 (600g)
🍍Tinned pineapple 80p (435g equiv) £1.13 (435g equiv) £1.09 (435g, Del Monte)
🫘Tofu Not available £3.50 (450g, or £2.30 for 280g) Not available
🥦Broccoli 82p (375g equiv) 82p (375g) 85p (375g equiv)
Total: £9.01 £9.34 £8.28

As you can see, even on this small shop shopping at Home Bargains saved me £1.06 compared to Tesco, and 73p compared to Aldi, which I was pretty happy with. It's worth noting that Home Bargains sells only the branded Del Monte tinned pineapple, which neither Tesco nor Aldi sell so I could not do a direct comparison. 

It's also worth noting I've tried both Tesco and Aldi's tinned pineapple in this recipe and found them both... wanting. It's supposed to be sweet and sour, not hard and tasteless (maybe I've only had bad tins?!).

⏱️Saving money vs saving time

As I alluded to at the start, I've almost completely stopped shopping at Aldi, bar the occasional trip in to get dishwasher tablets. While price of goods is most certainly a consideration, the cost of my time is the main way I save by not shopping at Aldi. I've never waited more than 10 minutes to pay at Home Bargains or Tesco, yet at Aldi I was once forced to wait an excruciating 45 minutes to buy five bars of chocolate (don't judge me I really needed those) and dishwasher tablets. It's not just an Aldi issue though, it's the exact reason I stopped shopping at Lidl, too.

In conclusion, time is the most precious and finite asset any of us have, and to me it's not worth 45 minutes to save £3 on dishwasher tablets. Is it really worth waiting in line when you could simply pop next door to Home Bargains to save money and time?

💸The "downside" of shopping at Home Bargains

Like Aldi's 'Special Buys', Home Bargains doesn't sell only food so it's completely possible to get distracted by items that weren't on your list, and spend extra that you weren't planning on.

Instructions unclear, mushrooms were on the shopping list, this was a price that can't be bolete 🍄

However, I'd actually been searching for a cheaper alternative to this £50 mushroom wicker basket from Dunelm (on the right) for quite some time, so I was really very pleased with this bigger Home Bargains look-alike for £17.99 (on the left)! I'd like to think every car that saw me walking home carrying it was equally amused.

Keen to try your own challenge? We've loads more tips on saving when you shop in our supermarket shopping guide.

Would you downshift your shop from Aldi to Home Bargains? Where's your favourite place to shop to save? Let me know on Twitter.