Taste the Difference?

Fed up with your black hole bank account? JULIA LEPLA investigates whether Sainsbury’s Basics come at the cost of taste.

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In a pre-Cambridge universe you knew you’d made it if only Waitrose products graced your plate, or you’d never seen the inside of a supermarket. But if there’s one thing Cambridge has taught us, it’s that there is more to the expensive stuff than posh packaging? Or is there?

In a very scientific study, a blind tasting of both Sainsbury’s Basics and Taste the Difference versions of six essential items was completed. According to my calculations, you save £4.95 if you eat only Basics food for a day, but will it be worth sacrificing taste for a few extra pennies? There’s only one way to find out…

Breakfast: Wholemeal toast and strawberry jam

BASICS: It was not hard to tell the wheat from the chaff with the bread and jam, and my breakfast did look like melted jelly babies on cardboard. With the slogan ‘less fruit, spreads more smoothly,’ it wasn’t really a great surprise to find the jam artificial tasting and fruitless.

TASTE: This was an instant hit in terms of taste, aesthetic appearance and general-bread topping ability. The only negative was the price, but if you’re prepared to eat the non-descript but palatable Basics bread (half the price and double the size of the underwhelming Taste bread) it might be worth treating yourself to some more expensive jam.

Basics Jam – worth avoiding!

Lunch: Chicken SuperNoodles (Taste noodles don’t exist)

BASICS: Instant noodles, to the untrained eye, look like they would be at home in the tuck bag of an Everest mountaineer, rather than on your kitchen table. This said, it was unanimously decided that the Basics were nicer, since they had a hint of mushroom and the added bonus of being vegetarian despite the deceptive title.

TASTE: It is certainly not worth paying the extra 50p for the fancy noodles. If your really hate the Basics, use a sly dash of soy sauce or ketchup to sort out any palate issues.

Dinner: Sausages and beans

BASICS: Since alcohol will inevitably have a lot to do with your cravings, Basic beans are absolutely fine and quite nice after a few mouthfuls. They are definitely worth paying less for if you plan to eat them with anything else and not straight from the tin in a mad rush to satiate your bean lusts.

Aesthetically, the sausages looked like something out of a school canteen nightmare. But if you, like many, douse your sausages in ketchup or other condiments, then the difference is irrelevant. Basically buy the cheap ones: satisfying for stomach and wallet.

TASTE: The texture and slightly stronger tomato taste of the expensive variety gave the Taste ones the edge and if you have regular cravings for beans, or other canned substances, as many of us do, then I would recommend splashing out (still good at 53p).

At first sight, the Taste sausages look like proper sausages – ones you might spot in a gastropub or in your Granny’s fridge. Taste slightly better than Basics, but they’re definitely not worth £2.59!

Basics Sausages – school dinner nostalgia

Pudding: A cheeky bit of chocolate

BASICS: Almost everyone has eaten Basics chocolate, whether that was in homemade rice crispy cakes or in an attempt to use a fondue set. If you haven’t, it’s good chocolate and it’s fairly appetising. I recommended it if you want it to make a chocolate-based concoction or enjoy an absent minded munch.

TASTE: That mid-essay crisis and onset of depression can unfortunately only be remedied by the fancy stuff. Taste Belgian chocolate is smooth, creamy and satisfying. But save your pennies for special occasions, and go for Basics 9 times out of 10.

All in all, it’s not worth paying three times the price for food which is not three times as tasty. We’d all love to eat like a king but unfortunately very few of us have been blessed with a bank balance to match. For a student, living off Basics is almost essential – it’ll give you money to spend on the finer things in life. Like Cindies. And proper jam.