How much money could you save by going on a supermarket sweep?

Supermarket pricing is crazy. They each want to be cheapest for a different set of items. So, while you might save more money overall at one particular supermarket, you’ll still be paying more for certain items.

But what if you spread your shop across four of the biggest supermarkets and bought the cheapest items in each?

How much could you save? How much petrol would you go through? More importantly, how long would it take? I investigate…

My shopping list

I hate spending more than I need to, so I often compare the cost of my shopping through the website mysupermarket.com.

The website tells me how much my shopping would cost at ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

Quite often I save as much as £10 by shopping at a different supermarket. The website lets me know how much my planned shopping will cost before I reach the shops, which is also useful. If I’m feeling lazy, I can use it to order my groceries online.

But it also shows me how much individual items cost in different supermarkets and it’s surprising. You might think a particular shop is cheapest, but you could still be paying more for certain items.

Check out my shopping list to see what I mean:

Item

Tesco price

ASDA price

Sainsbury’s price

Waitrose price

Cheapest

4 pints semi skimmed milk

£1.18

£1

£1.18

£1.18

ASDA

Warburtons Seeded Batch Load

85p

85p

80p

85p

Sainsbury’s

Cathedral City Mature Cheddar (350g)

£4.38

£2

£4.38

£3.98

ASDA

4 Activia strawberry yoghurts

£1.84

£1.84

£1.84

£1.22

Waitrose

Pampers 27 Active Fit Nappies

£5

£5

£6.48

£6.49

Tesco or ASDA

Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (500g)

£2

£2.68

£2

£2.68

Tesco or Sainsbury’s

Jamie Oliver Crispy Pollock Fishcakes

£2

£2

£1.99

£2

Sainsbury’s

Birds Eye Garden Peas

£1.25

£1.25

£1

£1

Sainsbury’s or Waitrose

Iceberg lettuce

85p

80p

£1

£1

ASDA

4 cans own-brand beans

£1.45

£1.42

£1.45

£1.45

ASDA

6 bottles Becks

£5

£4.98

£6.79

£5.50

ASDA

Mr Muscle Oven Cleaner

£2

£2

£3

£3

Tesco or ASDA

Robinsons Double Concentrate Orange Squash (1.75l)

£3.65

£3.65

£3.59

£2.43

Waitrose

Total

£31.45

£29.47

£35.50

£32.78

ASDA

Prices correct as of August 10.

So ASDA wins out as the cheapest overall, but it doesn’t win for every item on my list.

In fact, if I went to each different shop and purchased the cheapest items from each, my bill would come to £26.64, which is nearly £9 cheaper than Sainsbury’s and almost £3 less than ASDA.

But how much effort and petrol would it cost?

Make no mistake, one big shop doesn’t need as much effort as four shorter trips. My toddler and I spent most of an entire day trailing around these four supermarkets, until we were both ready to cry.

Unfortunately, this meant having to buy him his lunch while we were out, which cost £3 – much more than a simple cheese sandwich at home.


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Add to that the extra scope for impulse buys and my money-saving experiment soon became an expensive mistake.

Not only that, but I covered 15 miles, where I would usually have driven just three. That means I ended up spending more than my £3 saved simply getting around and keeping my son fed.

Would I do it again?

In a word: no. Scrabbling around four different shops left me tired and fed up, and my poor toddler nearly beside himself with boredom.

When you factor in the petrol costs as well, my supermarket sweep cost far more than I expected.

However, I will keep comparing prices so that when one supermarket has a particularly good deal on something I can stock up on, like nappies or washing tablets, I can load up.

Looking at the differences between shops, I will also keep comparing my shop so that I know I am shopping in the cheapest place overall. The money is better off in my pocket than theirs.

Do you spread your shop to save? Or do you visit smaller, independent retailers? How do you save on groceries?