If you believe the national stereotypes, there are certain things us Brits can’t live without, among them fish and chips, a local pub and a proper brew.
That last one is certainly top of my list. Since I gave up coffee, a cup of builder’s tea at least once a day is essential. And, when at home, I insist on Yorkshire Gold teabags. Ah, those little pockets of delight, the heady combination of leaves from Assam, Kenya and Rwanda. Just writing this makes me want to put the kettle on.
When it comes to cuppas, I’ve done my homework. Lancashire tea is too floral, PG Tips too pungent, and don’t get me started on all that herbal nonsense. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m not alone when it comes to a love of tea. According to TopCashback.co.uk, a cashback shopping site, nearly two-thirds of Brits splurge when buying teabags, even if that means cutting back on other groceries.
So, what are the most common brands we can’t live without? If you’ve been following the news this week, you’d be forgiven for thinking Marmite was among them (the Marmite PR team must be adding Tesco and Unilever to their Christmas card lists after days of blanket press coverage). But no, the love-it-or-hate-it spread doesn’t make the cut. That list consists of Heinz Ketchup, Heinz Baked Beans, PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea, Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Branston Pickle, Irn-Bru and Whole Earth Peanut Butter.
I’m on board with this. Last week I ran out of Heinz Baked Beans and had to make an emergency dash to the local supermarket to stock up. Similarly, there’s always a half-eaten pot of Branston Pickle in my fridge, and what better hangover cure than the mighty Irn-Bru?
Needless to say, some of these groceries come with us on holiday. Some years back, I went to the States with my folks. While I packed shorts and t-shirts, a substantial section of their suitcase was taken up with teabags and marmalade. According to TopCashback’s research, more than two-fifths of people admit to taking their favourite branded items away with them, even on overnight stays.
While there are luxuries we can’t live without, we are willing to seek out cheaper brands for food we’re just not that fussed about. So, 77 per cent of us will scrimp on fish fingers and biscuits in order to save money. A further 76 per cent do not mind buying cheap cooking kits and sauces and 73 per cent buy the cheapest snacks, crisps and chocolate. And it’s worth remembering that a fair number of supermarket own-brand products are actually made by well-known companies whose tins and packets sit cheek by jowl with cheaper alternatives.
Also, around a fifth of people plan their shopping trips around the days and times they know items will be less costly, such as late at night.
I employ a number of money-saving strategies when buying food, such as popping into Morrisons on a Sunday afternoon shortly before closing time when there’s always a shelf of perfectly acceptable perishables going cheap. But cutting corners on teabags? Not a chance.
Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator