case study: a family of five
'I can save €30 each week from my grocery bill by shopping around'
MOTHER-OF-THREE Vanessa Gavin has noticed a definite jump in the price of groceries, and made big changes to her shopping habits as a result. She lives in Waterford city with her husband John, a self-employed graphic designer.
"Prices are definitely up, across the board. I'm not sure which products it's coming from, but I know that my bill is €30 more than it would have been a year or two ago," she says.
At first, she decided to shop around.
"I haven't changed how much I spend, I've changed where I shop," she said.
"It's all about using a combination of different supermarkets. If I was to buy everything from one big chain I would end up spending €160 to €170 a week. I can easily cut this by €30 by shopping around. All the mums I know do the same."
Ms Gavin (40) moved back to her native Waterford from London three years ago with John and their three children, Isla (7), Oisin (5) and Oren (1).
Their weekly grocery bill is roughly the same as what they spent in London.
"I use a combination of Irish retailers and Lidl. I have always supported Superquinn because they are Irish and more ethical. I also like our local independent supermarket, Ardkeen Stores, which is fantastic and very competitive. I think we're fairly representative of most families."
Price is important to the Gavins, but quality and health are their biggest motivators.
"We are a one-income family so price is very important but the family's health is king," said Vanessa.
"I save on some things but others are non-negotiable; I still buy organic meat and free-range eggs. Having grown up on a farm, I know that good food costs more but is worth sacrificing for.
"I've started shopping in Lidl in the past year, primarily to bring down the price of our weekly shop. It's great for dry goods. But I wouldn't do my whole shop there. I find the food bland and I'm not as confident in the quality of the meat."
Having lived through two recessions – the 1980s and the 2000s – she says she knows how crucial it is to support the local food industry and buys Irish goods when she can.
"Traceability is important and buying Irish and local is part and parcel of this."
She tries to buy more than meat.
"Seasonal fish bought from fishmongers is really affordable and an absolute delicacy."
Helping her children build a good relationship with food is also important. "I want my kids to know what real food tastes like, so they'll know how to look for quality when they become consumers themselves," she said.