I lived off Sainsbury’s basics for a week

Somehow I’m still alive


We all run out of money. However, we usually save enough of our student loans to splash out on some decent food.

What happens when you can’t even do that?

Well, last week I attempted to live on the cheapest of the cheap, eating and drinking exclusively from the Sainsbury’s Basics range.

Orange is my favourite colour

If you’re unfamiliar with Sainsbury’s Basics you should note their selection of goods is a veritable cornucopia: from vodka to bread and all that’s in-between, almost any foodstuff you can imagine has been wrapped in an orange label and priced for fuck all.

Last Monday I went basics crazy. The cost of this hefty shop? £40 I hear you say. Perhaps £45?

No dear friends – the above cost a mere £26 – including an £11 bottle of vodka (yes, gone are the days of £10 basics vodka… inflation at its most brutal).

Delighted at the prospect of living on basics for a week

Of this shop, I ended up only eating just over half, meaning I spent around £10 on all my food for the week.

I am also still in possession of some tinned items of questionable edibility.

A good deal of the food I sampled this week was fine, bordering on good. The pasta tasted like pasta, the eggs were runny (occasionally scrambled, even fried some of the time), and the trifle was a delight.

The Basics milk chocolate bar was as good as a Cadbury’s one and cost 30p.

This stuff is off the chain

When food tastes this good you forget it isn’t branded or it’s part of a “cheap” range.

There’s no reason to eat non-basics in the future if their basics equivalent is just as good. Even some non-food items were a completely viable, cheaper alternative.

Only the finest for my ass

It wasn’t all a culinary triumph though. Clearly some of what I sampled wasn’t “top of the range”.

Heinz laughs hysterically in the face of Basics ketchup. The coffee is piss poor and – yeah I know this sounds odd – really tastes like cereal.

Also, let’s just say the UHT milk is something to avoid. It’s hidden right at the back of the store for good reason.

Expect more sauce than beans

Squint and it looks restaurant quality

No one should ever be held legally accountable for anything they may do while under the influence of Basics vodka.

This shit is dangerous, like “I’ve been taken hostage by ISIS” dangerous.

Cheap and nasty

The most interesting thing I learned from my experience is that having limited access to food makes you worry about it more often, but also makes you more adventurous.

I made a rip-off mackerel curry (yeah you heard right, mackerel) and it tasted fantastic.

Delicious, budget mackerel

You wouldn’t believe how many ways there are to eat eggs and pasta. By not eating out, I also thought about my next meal more, meaning I put more time into preparing it and therefore enjoyed it more.

So would I recommend living solely off Basics? Well, it’s true I didn’t have any fresh fruit or veg, but several people have since informed me that there is a large variety to be had and I was just moronic enough to miss it.

Either way, scurvy seems relatively far off.

This is not an exciting meal, no matter how you spin it

There are also some things best left to the brands, namely coffee and some other items. Apart from that, living off a student budget might be do-able after all.