This time I’m comparing the vegan options at Lidl and Sainsbury’s with a third online meals solution if you don’t want to overspend. There are lots of ways to save money on vegan or plant-based food that apply to all grocery shopping including how to work out when something is a good deal, what member discounts are available, choosing the best value format, ideas for other ingredients to keep meals low cost, portion control, subscriptions, and also picking your brand carefully.Listen to “047: Lidl vs Sainsburys vs…? Veganuary & Beyond” on Spreaker.
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Bear: [00:00:00] Good evening, my fellow bears. And if it’s not evening where you are, I’ll let you decide if I am too early or too late.
Hey, Bears. It’s Bear. If you caught my previous installments on the discounter Lidl, you know I’ve been investigating their vegan range. I thought I’d do a comparison today with one of the major supermarkets, just to see what we’re missing out on by choosing to shop either way. And then at the end, I’ll also share something else completely different
That’s relatively affordable, convenient, plant-based. If you’re autistic like me and you eat a very narrow set of foods, then you might find the final suggestion helpful from a nutrition standpoint, but I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist at the end of the day. I just like to eat well while living below my means.
So I can use all that money for other exciting things like buying houses. Gosh, I enjoy not being homeless or a renter, but that’s just me.
First up if you caught the previous podcast and YouTube videos. So one of the meat alternatives that I bought from Lidl was their juicy burger, not usually a big fan of vegan meat alternatives that are designed to look and smell like [00:01:00] meat or, and tastes like meat because they tend to be very processed.
And I kind of feel like if you’re going to eat, plant-based just, just eat plants as they are. But the juicy burger is not bad compared to some of the other
options out there. But I did notice something while on the Sainsbury’s website in a moment of temporary insanity, I decided to do a grocery delivery online. I’ll probably explain next time why it was a moment of temporary insanity
apart from if history has taught us anything, it’s that women are often prone to moments of temporary insanity. Funny that.
I was browsing the ingredients of the beyond cuisine range on the sainsbury’s website. And with these meat alternatives, you can usually choose your format, right? So you can go for a burger or sausages or meatballs or mince or all of these things. But what jumped out at me is that
if it’s from the same range, quite often, the base ingredients are almost exactly the same. So I think you’ll find this range for instance, is made with pea protein,
and then they just have a slightly different recipe mix depending on whether you’re buying a meatball [00:02:00] or the sausages.
And that’s slightly different mix of ingredients is probably more to do with
texture and consistency in the final product that they’re trying to create.
But if you’re not actually that fussed about whether your dinner is meatball shaped or burger shaped, If you look at the cost per weight,
the best value was to get the meatballs.
So that’s the first thing that I’d taken extra few seconds to pay attention to. If you’re trying to choose between all these different things.
Instead of just buying whatever’s on offer, I look at the price per weight, and if you look at the ingredients of something and it’s very similar to another product in the range, but there’s quite a big difference in value
then I’d obviously go for the format that gives me more value for money. The other thing I noticed is that Plant Pioneers are selling a slightly salted block. Of what? a slightly sorted block of what? I think. I think it’s butter, it’s probably butter. Right? I think I was browsing meat at the time. And so I was a bit confused, a slightly sorted block of, of, of which, which alternative animal.
This is what happens when you start trying to create vegan versions of things that are not ordinarily vegan.
another thing to keep in [00:03:00] mind if you’re trying to switch your dietary preferences and especially if you’re trying to do it without spending a lot more than you usually would…
Or if the aim specifically is to spend a lot less than you normally would
is to not only find the best value way to get your base ingredients in the first place.
but to also just find a go-to way to make those things that doesn’t add a lot of time and costs to those meals as well. So if I take tofu as an example, stay with me, cause I know for some people, if you’ve tried tofu before and you didn’t like it, or you tried cooking with it before and you found it an absolute faff, I used to find it a really big faff.
In the past, the only way I seemed to be able to get hold of tofu was you would have to drain the packet and then you’d have to spend ages pressing all of the water out of it.
But nowadays there’s a few tofu products that only take a few seconds to drain and you don’t have to press them and you can also even buy it marinaded.
Apart from baking it. I don’t think there are many people who would eat just plain tofu.
So most of the time you’re going to marinate it in soy sauce or something like that, some [00:04:00] spices. And Lidl,
in the vegan range that’s available currently, they’ve got three types of pre-marinated tofu that are ready to eat, or you can warm them up. They have a soy sauce, one, they have a basil infused one and they have a smoked tofu.
And the difference in price compared to the big brands is huge. So on Sainsbury’s website, cauldron marinated tofu, even on offer is one pound 25 per hundred grams. Whereas the Lidl tofu, especially if you’re a Lidl plus member as well. So if you used that app to get 15% off while they’ve got coupons on their vegan food running, the base price for the Lidl tofu is only 99 P anyway. And then with that discount, 84 P for a pack of tofu, that’s got one or two servings in it, depending on how much you eat and who you’re feeding. So for me, I’m a small person with small hands. So if I’m going to aim to eat a portion of protein at dinner, I aim for something about the size of my palm.
Not something I made up. It’s something I learned from watching a dietician like Priya [00:05:00] Tew
and the tofu they sell is quite a thick slab. So I would also cut that in half. The life on it is 24 hours. Anyway, so it’s basically two dinners, two nights.
So you’re getting all that tofu for more like 50p per hundred grams versus £1.25 per hundred grams
for cauldron’s tofu at Sainsbury’s or any of the other major supermarkets that sell it. And that’s why I find looking at the price per weight so important rather than just the price on the packet. Sainsbury’s also sell the Tofoo Company’s tofu in the, in a plain version of marinated versions, that would normally be the most affordable, big brand option otherwise, but it still works out more expensive.
than Lidl’s current vegan range. The only big downside to this is that I noticed that when Lidl was selling this tofu last year, it then sort of disappeared after a while. So I’m glad they brought it back, but I think it does rely on as many shoppers as possible buying it and trying it, if it’s going to be something that they stock all year round.
So if you have no idea what to put that with,
the basil tofu I would put with more Mediterranean flavors, but if you’ve got soy sauce tofu [00:06:00] smoked tofu, or even plain tofu,
personally, I’d put that with veggies that are coated in oil, garam masala, ginger, coriander, any of those kinds of flavors,
toss that together and put it in the oven. You can bake plain tofu in those spices and oil also, doesn’t take very long.
And I don’t do that marinade in advance. If I do do it, I would do it right before putting it in the oven.
You can also fry those spices in oil and then add your veggies. So things like peas, broccoli, or add your plain tofu if it’s not marinated.
Since the Lidl tofu is so super cheap right now, I hope that gives you some ideas what to do with it or what to eat it with if that’s where you’ve gotten stuck in the past. It’s a great source of protein and iron. Again, I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, but
if you do your own research on that one, I think you’ll find I’m right.
I also tried this isn’t bacon from Sainsbury’s last year and I thought you’re right. It really isn’t. It looked about the same when it was raw as when it was cooked. And I didn’t find that very reassuring again, that’s one of the things about trying to buy vegan [00:07:00] food that’s meant to look and taste and smell like meat,
and doesn’t really, it’s just very hard to recreate. The other curiosity I picked up at Lidl which is incidentally vegan, but also possibly an alternative you’re interested in if you’re trying to eat less sugar and more protein is whole Earth’s chocolate peanut butter. The reason I say this curiosity is that I’ve only ever been able to buy this in two places and that is Lidl or Amazon,
and it should be one of those sort of special buy products that, you know, Lidl stocks once and then never again. But actually I’ve been able to get hold of it at Lidl on quite a regular basis. And it’s very competitively priced at Lidl, because of course, one of the great truths about the discounters lately too, and Aldi, is that they’re very affordable if you’re buying their own brand products.
And then a lot of their profit comes from straying into the special buyer area and picking up branded products that are actually overpriced compared to the other supermarkets. But you get it because it’s convenient. And also because you obviously can’t compare prices if it’s the only one of its kind in front of you, but Lidl are selling the whole earth peanut butter for three pound.
[00:08:00] That’s how they priced it last year, too. The only way to get it for less than that would be if you did like a subscribe and save on Amazon, but for what is sort of a limited edition flavor, that’s quite difficult to get elsewhere, I’m surprised that you can’t buy it as standard in places like Sainsbury’s, haven’t seen it in any of the other major supermarkets.
So if you’re trying to eat less of something like Nutella, which is very high in sugar, and obviously if you’re not allergic to nuts, I recommend that. You can of course make your own chocolate peanut butter. I put mine on porridge.
So if you just buy an actual peanut butter from Lidl or Aldi, that’s got nothing else added to it
and you buy cocoa powder. I don’t sweeten mine, but that’s because I like to eat very bitter chocolate anyway. So I would normally eat like 85% cocoa, 95% cocoa, dark chocolate. Almost no sugar added, but if you don’t like the taste of that, then you can obviously sweeten your own chocolate peanut butter yourself.
That might make it more or less sweet than Nutella, but at least then you know exactly what’s going into what you’re eating. And it’s definitely a more affordable way of buying chocolate peanut butter if you make it [00:09:00] yourself.
And it is a workaround when the whole earth peanut butter is out of stock too,
but if you want to just grab something off the shelf,
that’s a chocolate spread that’s high in protein and lower in sugar than maybe what you normally have, I recommend the whole Earth peanut butter
at Lidl. And the only other thing I would say about that versus making your own is that it is incredibly thick. So it’s quite hard to spread or portion out sometimes, especially in the winter when everything kind of goes solid in your cupboards. Anyway.
But the taste more than makes up for it. And also if you’ve bought natural peanut butters before and been potent been put off by the natural oils on the top, because the oil tends to separate from the rest, because this has some other ingredients in it, and because it is so thick, it doesn’t have that oil separation.
So you don’t have to deal with that. If you find that off-putting.
My final suggestion. If you’re looking to eat more, plant-based without spending a lot of money, but you’re also really big on saving time and convenience is to look into Huel. Sainsbury’s sell some of the ready to drink flavors. The most affordable way to get it is actually Just as a powder that you mix with [00:10:00] cold water.
So if you buy it directly from Huel. I was skeptical of this when I first heard of it, because I’m just skeptical of anything that seems like a meal replacement, diet food, but Huel, they have tried to engineer their products with the emphasis more on the meal replacement than the diet food aspect.
So it’s classed as a nutritionally complete food. Whereas I think things like SlimFast, if you look at the nutrition and the ingredients,
there’s usually not a lot going on.
And this is all relative, right? ~So ~it depends on how, on what you normally eat. So if you normally miss meals or you eat a lot of takeaways, you don’t eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, something like Huel would probably be an improvement on the nutrition you’re getting.
I did see one nutritionist criticize it once on the basis that they said, well, we don’t know what every food on the planet contains nutritionally. We haven’t exhausted the depths of research of what all the nutrients in the world are because science hasn’t got there yet. And I thought, well, that’s funny because if I go to hospital and I can’t stick a fork in my mouth, they feed me liquid food and they [00:11:00] somehow have a rough idea of what the most basic essential nutrients are that I need to keep myself alive.
So I feel like we know enough for Huel to create something that can be marketed as nutritionally complete.
Whether you think it’s cost saving depends on what you currently spend for dinner. So I would normally spend less than a pound per meal by shopping at the discounters and then being mindful at the other supermarkets of what I’m buying in terms of price per weight,
without trying to compromise on nutrition. If you’re buying a ready to drink bottle of Huel, it’s around three pounds, £3.50 a pop.
But if you have one of their powder subscriptions that you just mix with water yourself, and these are flavoured by the way, then the cost goes down significantly to roundabout one pound something per meal, depending on the size of your order.
I’m not an affiliate for this currently, by the way, I’m just sharing it as something that might be useful.
but when you’re looking at a cost saving, I think you do need to take time into account as well. So when I’m saying, what if you go to Lidl and you get the chocolate peanut butter. And then if you go to Sainsbury’s to get this one specific type of [00:12:00] tofu or whatever it is,
not everyone has that option in terms of geography, but that also might actually be adding more time than it’s worth, depending on what you’re capable of earning.
So Huel is also designed to significantly cut down on the time that you spend planning meals, actually going out and buying food or ordering food online, receiving that food, having to organize your kitchen, putting it all away, and then actually prepping the food and cleaning up afterwards and all that sort of thing.
So I would count up those costs too in terms of your time, if you’re trying to do the maths on whether Huel would be a cost saving versus cooking from scratch.
And then aside from that, it’s just deciding on whether you actually like the texture and the flavors that are available too.
By all means let me know if that’s helpful. I’ll leave links to the previous installments on Lidl and coming up, I’ll probably be doing
some more about how to get the best value for money from Sainsbury’s online groceries.
And I’m always open to requests as well. Go forth. If save like a bear has impacted your finances positively and you want to pay forward what you’ve [00:13:00] learned on the podcast to someone else,
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