Sunday, 11 May 2014

Frugal bank holiday shopping?

We're always looking for ways to keep the price of our food shop down so we took up the opportunity of some vouchers to test out Morrisons over the bank holiday as part of their New Cheaper Morrisons! campaign. 

An Everyday Life On A Shoestring bank holiday food shop!

We went to our nearest Morrisons in Chippenham. This is somewhere I occasionally go for a few items on the way home from work, but would not usually visit for a big shop.

What did we find?

A lovely fruit and veg section. Although we didn't have much fresh produce on our shopping list it looked very tempting as it is so prettily displayed. Lots of the produce is loose, so great for using your own produce bags such as the Onya bags. 

Vegetarians are well catered for. Since we took ownership of four ex-caged hens last autumn, both my children have become mostly vegetarian. In general I'm dubious about fake meat products but make an exception for Quorn, which the kids love. Our local supermarket (a medium sized Co-op) does not have a big selection of Quorn products so Daughter went a bit mad when she saw a whole Quorn chiller section and snuck Quorn pepperoni slices, savoury eggs and sausage rolls into the shopping basket.

There was also a great wholefoods section where we stocked up on split peas (53p for 500g).

A Reduced to Clear section. I'm always drawn to the reduced section and Morrisons didn't disappoint. I picked up two jars of whole nut peanut butter (45p each).

Daughter also convinced me that she needed a reduced-to-40p special shower comb for combing her long golden hair when she washes it...she took advantage of my limited experience of washing long hair to convince me.  When I checked the receipt afterwards, the reduction had not been applied. Grrrr! I should never have agreed to it.

Throughout the store it was also easy to spot the New Cheaper priced items with their yellow stickers and there are also plenty of items in the Morrisons Savers range. We got some Savers Rich Tea and Digestive biscuits (23p and 31p respectively) and a bar of milk chocolate (30p).

2 out of 2 cats prefer Morrisons' dry cat food to Morrisons' wet cat food. The cats tried out the Morrisons' own brand pet food for us and although they turned their noses up at the wet food, were happy with the dry food for kittens. They also recommend the recycled wood pellet cat litter.

Anything else we were impressed with?
The healthy plants in the garden section. I hate seeing wilting and neglected bedding plants outside supermarkets, but these were well cared for.

We like to keep an eye on how much of our food packaging we'll be able to recycle easily without having to compromise our budget too much. We were able to steer clear of tetrapak-aged goods, and liked the biodegradable pots at the serve yourself fresh olive display.

What happened next...

Part of the blogging deal for the vouchers was to share a favourite recipe that we cooked over the bank holiday, and cost it. 

As it was a quiet weekend with lots of eating at home there were several options:

Homemade pizzas on Saturday night, featuring Morrisons' flour, passata, olives and mozzarella. (Three pizzas worked out at £3.45 which is 86p per person)

Daughter's homemade brioche on Sunday morning, main ingredient...Morrisons' flour.

Veggie Lasagne on Sunday evening (to use up Saturday's pizza ingredients).

But our special bank holiday meal was really a red onion and goats' cheese tart, served on Monday with baked potatoes and salad, when we had a guest to lunch.

Red Onion and Goats' Cheese Tart Recipe

For the pastry
125g wholemeal flour (8p)
125g white flour (14p)
125g sunflower margarine (25p)

For the filling:
100g goats' cheese (we used the creamy kind with a rind) (£2)
3 red onions (55p)
4 eggs (we used our hens' eggs rather than Morrisons', but if we had used their free range eggs they would have cost 93p)
a dash of milk
salt and pepper

Overall cost: 
£3.95 (which served 4 of us for lunch with a portion saved for Husband) 
79p per portion

Make the shortcrust pastry by rubbing the margarine into the flour (I used half wholemeal and half white but you could use all of either) and mixing with water until you get a rollable dough. 

Roll out and line a 9 inch tin or flan dish. 

Chop the red onions (in circles rather than finely chopped) and fry gently.

Meanwhile blind bake the pastry for ten minutes at 200 deg c, or Gas Mark 5/6 (depending on your oven - I use 6)

In some recipes, you just add some balsamic vinegar to the onions, lay slices of goats' cheese on top and bake the tart. We have a glut of eggs at the moment so we made ours more quiche-like and added the eggs (beaten with a dash of milk and seasoned with salt and pepper) to the onions and goats' cheese.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the egg has set and the cheese has nicely melted and bubbled.


Evaluation of the whole experience?
The prices in Morrisons compare favourably with our usual supermarkets (local Co-op, Aldi or Lidl). However the Morrisons store is much bigger than any of those so leads to greater temptation! (I'm particularly thinking of the shower hair comb and the fresh olives...) As always, however resilient to pester power I believe I am, taking a child shopping with me leads to a certain amount of straying from the shopping list.

I'm not in the habit of costing out meals so it was good to see that even using an expensive ingredient (like the goats' cheese), cooking from scratch is definitely the cheap option compared with buying the equivalent quality of ready made product or eating out.

Disclosure: We received £80 worth of Morrisons' vouchers in return for blogging/tweeting about our experience and sharing a favourite recipe.


  1. That's a good reason to blog if you get such a lot of vouchers. I am a regular Morrison's shopper mostly because it's the nearest supermarket. The fruit and veg are usually good and I love the garden centre bit. I picked up a big pot of thyme yesterday for £1.50.

    1. £80 is well over a day's wages for me so I couldn't turn that one down...The fruit and veg seem to be a real selling point for Morrisons.

  2. I like Morrisons, their veg stays fresher than other supermarkets. I am a veggie and don't like Quorn but like soya mince/sausages. though I make most things from scratch/

    1. Yes I've never tried making veggie sausages either although I've seen a few recipes for glamorgan sausages.

  3. It looks like you chose nice quality items. Some time I will make the tart from your recipe and cost it out locally!

    1. Some quality items and some cheapy items like the biscuits! I wonder how costs would compare between me and you.

  4. I occasionally go to Morrison's and their veg and fruit are always very well displayed, good quality and a v extensive range.

    1. As above, I think the green grocery part is a real strong point.

  5. We don't often shop there but I find it great for lentils and other dried foods, I stock up there once or twice a year. The plants look great, as does your pizza!

  6. The bank holiday food looks great at your house! Thanks for the recipe.

    My nearest supermarket is a small Morrisions. I can do my shopping in a third of the time compared to going round the giant Tescos. (I try to avoid Tescos as I can't stand the noise levels! The ceiling is bare like a tin can, so the sound reverberates round it!)

    Morrisons doesn't have so much variety of processed food, which suits me fine. I always find I spend a lot less there compared to the other supermarkets. Their nuts and seeds seem really good value and if you look in the section of Indian food you can buy tinned chickpeas and tomatoes in a 12 pack for £2.50. The spices are good value too. I still find the discount stores in town are generally cheaper. For instance Welches juice drink is £1.29 in Morrisons and 59p in Home Bargains. There is far more variety of fruit on the market though and it is usually cheaper. Last week I did manage to find 4 packs of vine tomatoes in the discount section for 9p each, so I made some roasted tomato sauce with them. All the more delicious for being a bargain :-) I am hoping these yellow cheaper prices make things even better value.

    1. 9p for tomatoes? Result! Your reasons for shopping at your small Morrisons sound similar to the reasons I shop at my Co-op. Not so much choice means not so many impulse purchases.