Money saving shopping

Over the years I’ve written loads of articles about saving money and living economically in France. But, I don’t always practice what I preach and I confess to having been quite lax on the household expenditure front for a while now.

But no more!

The shots of empty Italian supermarket shelves have galvanised me into action. Yesterday morning I did a massive supermarket order and collected it at 6pm on my way to pick up my weekly veg box. I hate shopping at the best of times and loo roll and dog food seem to be in perpetually short supply chez nous so I’ve tried to get a month’s worth of long life / dried foods / household supplies in and we will see how it pans out!

I’m going out later to Action to do the same with cleaning products and toiletries (as it is way cheaper than anywhere else) and I hope that I will then have a combined ‘Master List’ to work from in the future.

I am convinced that this will prove cheaper than constant ‘popping to the shops’ for three things and coming back 60€ lighter. It must be more economical in terms of fuel too and is certainly time saving.

I’ll report back in a month and let you know how we got on. And, if nothing else, if Coronavirus hits Dax and we are all confined to barracks, at least I have enough cat food and coffee to see me through!

How do you shop?


I think you are making a valid point. We once worked out the ‘real’ cost of going to Action for a few bits and pieces. The cost of the drive to the big town and back way outweighed the savings made. After that we stocked up there when we were passing. Another friend drives out to get bread twice a day The fuel used doing that must add up to quite a bit every month.

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I buy looroll 2x a year, in 4 or 5x96 roll packs. I get washing and washing-up liquid in bulk from the biocoop, rice in 20kg sacks etc. I do the same with most other non perishable or not very perishable things, and have stocks of all sorts of things. I am not a prepper but we have been cut off for anything up to 10 days in spite of being so close to roads, and there are a lot of us to feed.

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We normally wait for the supermarket deals at lectern etc where they do special ‘lots’ for all sorts of things including bottled water, loo rolls and just about anything !
It’s possible to make good savings.

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For the materials needed for the gîte we do one enormous shop in January, from toilet rolls to firelighters, bottles of crémant to replacement tea towels. That makes the accountancy easier as not messing about with a pile of receipts. Our spare room is much more comfortable to visitors in November than in January…

For the rest we make a trip to a supermarket every two weeks or so, and if there is anything useful & durable on special offer we will get 6 months worth. The rest we buy from local shops in passing, we rotate dog walking routes to pass through different villages so can drop in on favorite shops, markets or farms. My favorite is a walk that means we pass through a village with a great pâtissière…

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Thank you very much for the annual loo roll calculation - most helpful! I always think of you when the massive packs are available in LeClerc!!


We have found we spend far less if we have a week long meal list. We plan 7 meals then buy just what is needed - it is actually quite relaxing to know you have the ingredients for 7 full meals.

I also tend to do the supermarket shopping as I don’t browse. It is always expensive if we both go to the supermarket. I have found recently if I go to the supermarket at 1pm it is very quiet with no queues at the tills - but keep this quiet!


We do exactly the same and the bonus is that there’s no food waste.
Lunchtime in the supermarket and there’s often only 1 checkout person but still no queues!

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Lidl and Action, what more do you need?
Have to visit intermarche for Francine bread mix and yeast.

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Not forgetting 30% discount on perishables when close to sell by at Lidl. Best time to visit is later on Thursday or Saturday for reductions and fill our freezer.

Good point Dan. But not just the fuel. The first five minutes of driving causes the greatest engine wear and the most pollution.
But as the average baguette becomes inedible in less than 24 hours, many people regard the daily visit to the boulangerie as a necessity.
We make our own bread, using multi-cereal flour and live yeast. A 500g loaf lasts two or three days for two people and remains edible for that time. Although the entire process takes a few hours because the dough needs time to rise, the actual preparation time takes less time than the trip to the shop. Very easily done by hand, you only need a bread machine if you spend long hours away from home.

“Tablier Blanc” bread flour from Leclerc and Super U own brand are good and a bit less expensive, but we only find live yeast at Leclerc and Carrefour.

We always make a list and stick to it and will have shopping ‘expeditions’ where we make a trip to our nearest town and visit several shops in one hit to cut down on fuel costs.

Hi Mike, we have tried numerous brands and mixes of ready to bake flour and settled on Francine multicereal as our favoured taste. 1.5 kilo bag for around 2 euros which produces 3 loaves and each good for 2 days so cost around 35 cents per day. Using rapid yeast and bread maker from start to finish we have a loaf in 1 hour 15 minutes.
I used to drive every day for our daily bread which invariably included the purchase of something sweet that took my eye but not any more and blood sugar is now normal!
And we spend much less on fuel👍

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To be fair, you need to take into account the electricity used by your machine and amortize the purchase price over its expected life, but you are still quids in.
My understanding is that the standard baguette must, by law, only contain flour, water, salt and yeast to prevent adulteration and to ensure that people have access to wholesome bread at a controlled price. The downside is that it doesn’t keep.
By contrast, British bread can be kept in the fridge for about a fortnight without going hard, but will eventually have to be thrown out when it starts to go moldy. If you are interested in knowing how they achieve that, here is the whole horror story -

We make sourdough bread which keeps for ages, and for white bread buy baguettes and pop them in the freezer.

I have to drive every day to get to and from work and very conveniently pass by the biocoop, a maraîcher and a good bakery so that’s where I go for fruit/veg/herbs and bread. I go to the supermarket only when I need to refuel, and use refillable containers for cleaning stuff, we buy pretty much everything en vrac.

Quandary over purchase of new cooker.

Price on line for one my wife wants €869.

Price in local électroménager for same one €1099.

The proprietor of the local business is immensely helpful, helps with little plumbing jobs at short notice, cleans our chimney and runs a delightful store and quinacellerie in town. His wife sold me the 8 tiny cable clips I needed for 20 cents.

I asked them if we could negotiate a reduction in the price. They said, regrettably, no. The business was their living. The choice of where to buy was mine. The price difference is wide for a reason. I did not feel it necessary to ask what it was.

My wife and I have decided to buy from the local business, on principle and out of solidarity. But we are not well off, and will have to wait. Would you do the same?


Yes, because he will deliver install and problem-sort later on if need be, and local businesses deserve support. Maybe you could pay in instalments?


If the price difference was say 50E then I’d buy local but 230E, no.

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