Back to Basics: My week as a Basics Bitch

Some said I was crazy to live off Sainsbury’s Basics for a whole seven days of my life, but I’ve survived to tell the tale so you don’t have to. On […]

Some said I was crazy to live off Sainsbury’s Basics for a whole seven days of my life, but I’ve survived to tell the tale so you don’t have to.

basicsOn one hand, you could see this challenge as a student version of ‘Supersize Me’; an in-depth study into the effects of the orange labelled bargain products on a typical student.

Or alternatively, you could choose to see it as an unemployed ‘waste of space’ student with no money having no other option but to resort to the cheapest of Sainsbury’s food products.

sainsburys basics

For those of you that haven’t managed to piss away your student loan, The Sainsbury’s Basics range caters for almost every type of food you could want.

If you buy a branded food product, chances are there is a cheaper, and most likely worse, Basic’s equivalent.

I spent exactly £28.10 on my Basics for the week. To me this actually seemed rather expensive.

But, being a terrible shopper and having no idea how much food is actually needed for a week, I appear to have over-shopped and have lots left over.

Sainsburys basics

You would be hard done by to find anything in the Basic’s range that cost more than a pound.

Now onto the actual quality of the food. For the most part, Sainsbury’s Basics does not live up to its reputation. In fact, a lot of the products I sampled were average or above.

This is especially true when you combine lots of ingredients for one meal. It was sometimes hard to notice the difference, even if I was eating bolognese made from Sea Biscuit.

spag bowl

I was pleasantly surprised by some of the products that I was almost fearful of trying.

For instance, the fair trade tea, despite possibly not quite reaching a Johnny Vegas level of eagle, tastes just as good as any bog-standard tea I’ve ever tasted. As long as you leave it to brew long enough.

Plus, the fact that it is fair trade says good things for Sainsbury’s, when some of the largest tea brands don’t even manage to do this.

basics tea

The bad side to Basics seems to come in the food products eaten on their own.

I never again wish to experience the interestingly sweet herby taste of Basics baked beans, and I’m sure my toilet doesn’t either. I am afraid I’ll be sticking to Heinz.

This is also true of the gag-inducing UHT milk. Who would have thought you could get milk so very very wrong?

The Basics pizza’s are also disappointingly below par, being extremely miniature with an almost non-existent crust.


Possibly the most interesting product I sampled over my week was the Sainsbury’s Basics white wine, which the bottle proudly boasts is ‘for the table, not the cellar’. Let’s hope that whoever is wealthy enough to own a wine cellar never stocks it with these plastic bottles.

However, despite its unnerving appearance, it tasted no worse than the two for £5 wines from ‘Bottles and Beers’ on Portswood Hightstreet, not that this is a good comparison for taste.

I’m also certain that my stomach lining has been stripped from the pure acidity of the more than likely genetically modified grapes they use.


Over the course of my week, I actually probably ate far healthier meals than I usually would.

The fear of plunging your fork into the cheap hand of Basics fate encouraged me to try and make meals that would actually taste good by using lots of ingredients, as opposed to eating ready meals every day.

I would conclude that many Basics products are more than worth purchasing. But you do still have to be wary of those individual products that will never be beaten by the brands.

What do you think of Basics products? Let us know in the comments!