Which is the cheapest supermarket right now? (Hint: it's not the one you think)

We examine the latest data to find out which is the cheapest supermarket for food, baby essentials and kids' favourites

woman looking at a box label while carrying a basket in a supermarket
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Recent updates

This article has been updated to reflect the findings of the latest research and we have fact checked all prices mentioned, and updated them where necessary. We have also added additional expert insight around whether the cheapest supermarket is actually the best.

Carrying out your weekly food shop at the cheapest supermarket is one of the simplest ways to save money on food. Family budgets remain tight thanks to stubbornly high inflation, and with the colder months now upon us, there’s the extra pressure of high energy bills to contend with. 

Retail expert at online discount platform Wethrift, Nick Drewe, told us: “As we navigate through the ongoing cost of living crisis, the impact that rising inflation is having on the prices of everyday supermarket essentials has been impossible to ignore. 

“While many shoppers will be looking to make cuts on their non-essential purchases where possible, or looking to swap from branded goods to supermarket own ranges, in order to ease the strain on their bank accounts, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to decipher exactly where the best deals and highest quality offerings are to be sourced. In times of financial uncertainty, the average shopper is less likely to retain brand loyalty if they are able to find notably cheaper goods at rival supermarkets.”

Whichever supermarket you choose to shop at, always ensure you’re signed up to its loyalty card scheme to maximise any savings or benefits you can get. It's also a good idea to wise up to sneaky supermarket tricks that retailers use to encourage you to spend more in store. If you tend to shop online, make sure you know where you can get the cheapest online food shopping

Which was the cheapest supermarket in October 2023? 

The latest research by Which? shows that for the first time in 17 months, Lidl has been crowned the cheapest supermarket for October 2023. Aldi was knocked off the top spot to take second place. We did our own experiment to see if Aldi or Lidl was cheaper and that's what our latest research found too.

Which? checked the price of 44 popular grocery items and found that Lidl was the cheapest at £74.58, just 17p less than closest rival Aldi. 

Waitrose was the most expensive supermarket in October 2023. The equivalent basket cost a total of £91.15 – that’s 22% (or £16.57) more than Lidl. Of the ‘big four’ supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons), Asda was cheapest at £82.11.   

Cheapest supermarket for larger shops

Which? also compared the cost of a larger trolley of 135 items (the original 44, plus 91 more). As this larger shop includes more branded items, which may not be available at the discounters, Aldi and Lidl weren’t included in this comparison.

Asda was found to be the cheapest of the ‘big four’ traditional supermarkets, with an average trolley price of £328.42. Morrisons took second place, with a total trolley cost of £339.40 (£10.98 more).

At the other end of the scale, Waitrose was once again found to be the most expensive supermarket in October, having been overtaken by Sainsbury’s last month. The Waitrose trolley cost £378.08, £49.66 more than Asda. 

Mother shopping in supermarket with her children

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How do supermarkets compare for kids' essentials?

Raising a family doesn’t come cheap, so if you’ve recently had a baby, the table below looks at how the cost of essential baby items compares across the major supermarkets.  

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Own brand size 1 nappies, approx. 50 (pack sizes vary)£1.70£1.80£1.84£1.80£9.15 (Pampers, no own brand available) £1.70£1.70
Aptamil (800g)£14.50£14.50£14.50£14.50£15.25£9.39 (own brand only, 900g)£11.75 Aptamil follow on (700g)
Own brand baby wipes (60-pack)65p85p65p65p95p65p65p
Bepanthen nappy rash cream (100g)£8.20£8.80£8.80£8.20£9.25n/an/a
Baby fruit/veg pouch (70g - 120g)70p 59p50p50p£1 (Ella’s Kitchen, no own brand available)48p65p
Own brand meal tray (eg. spaghetti bolognaise)£1.15£1.10£1.15£1.10£2.10 (Hipp, no own brand available)95pn/a
Rusks (300g)£2£2.50 (2 x 150g)£2.90 (2 x 150g)£2n/an/a£1.49

Although Aldi and Lidl often offer cheaper products, they don’t sell as wide a selection of products (and some products tend to come and go), which means you might need to go to the bigger supermarkets to get the remainder of your items. Prices are pretty similar across Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury's, while Waitrose stands out as being the most expensive – primarily because it offers a smaller range of own-brand products.

If your children are older, the table below outlines how prices compare at the same supermarkets for a selection of kids’ favourites.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Own brand orange squash (1.5 litres)£1.10£1.29£2£2£1.4099pPrice not available
Fruit shoot (8 x 200ml)£3.50£3.49£3.60 £3.50 (£2.50 Clubcard price)£3.80£1.59 (own brand only)n/a
Own brand rice cereal (375g)95p95p85p85p£1.40 (440g)85p99p (500g)
Bear Yoyos (5 x 20g)£2.85£2.85£2.85£2.85 (£2.10 Clubcard price)£3n/a n/a
Own brand chocolate digestives (300g – 400g)85p85p85p 85p£175p75p
Own brand breadsticks (125g)55p85p£1.1049p£149pn/a
Own brand kids’/baby bath wash (500ml)£1£1.20£1.5095p£3.15 (Johnson’s, no own brand available)99p95p
Own brand caterpillar cake £8£7£7.50£7.50£8.50£5.49n/a

Again, Waitrose tends to be the most expensive. Aldi and Lidl do have some great deals, but didn’t stock all the products we were after. Lidl also only publishes the prices of some of its products online – the product, or an equivalent, may be available in store, even if it’s not listed on our table. 

My personal take
Rachel Wait, personal finance expert
My personal take
Rachel Wait

We’re hosting Christmas at our house this year, so I’m starting to stock up on festive non-perishables as and when I see them (particularly if they are on offer) to help spread the cost. Discounters Aldi and Lidl are particularly useful for this and already have a great range of Christmas goods on display. I’m also really pleased to see that Aldi has introduced a Christmas Price Lock which will see the cost of key food staples remain at the same price as last year.    

Which is the most expensive supermarket?

According to Which’s annual survey, Waitrose was the most expensive across the 12 months of 2022. In fact, a basket of items from Waitrose cost from £9 to over £30 more per month than the cheapest supermarket. It also remains the priciest supermarket so far this year. We also did our own experiment to see if Waitrose was more expensive than M&S Food.

However, separate research from Which? reveals that in September this year, Sainsbury’s saw the highest level of inflation on food and drink, with prices up 14% year-on-year. This is the first time Sainsbury’s has been highest for inflation and it was followed by Lidl at 13.3% and Aldi at 12.8%.

Waitrose, on the other hand, had a lower inflation figure of 7.7%.

Father shopping in supermarket with his two sons

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to find the cheapest supermarket

Monitoring surveys and research from publications such as The Grocer and Which? is one way to keep track of supermarket prices. But there are also a number of apps and tools that can help you find the cheapest prices for the items you need to buy.

The Trolley app is a good example that lets you compare prices across 16 supermarkets – including Aldi and Lidl. You can even use the app in store and scan a bar code before you buy to ensure you aren’t paying more than you need.

Other options to try include Latest Deals, MySupermarketCompare and Superizon. These all let you compare the best deals across a range of supermarkets, while Supermarket Wizard helps consumers carry out a full basket price comparison across the big six supermarkets. Once you’ve placed all the items in your basket, you’ll be able to see which supermarket comes out cheapest.  

It can also be worth trying out food waste apps such as Too Good To Go, as shopping expert at MyVoucherCodes, Sarah-Jane Outten, explains: “Too Good To Go offers magic bags from several supermarkets including Morrisons, Waitrose, and M&S Food. These bags are packed with foods close to the end date for a fraction of the full price.” See how this app saved one mum more than £35 a month.  

Is the cheapest supermarket the best?

At a time when the cost of living remains high, hunting out the cheapest supermarket and finding the biggest savings will be a top priority. However, cost isn’t the only factor that should be considered when looking for the best supermarket for your circumstances. 

Finance expert at lender Cashfloat, Sarah Connelly, told us: "Choosing the cheapest supermarket can save you money, but it's essential to consider your overall shopping needs. Quality, variety, convenience, and value also play a significant role in determining the 'best' supermarket for you. The key is finding the right balance between affordability and the other factors that matter to you.”

Food expert and owner of online supermarket Britsuperstore, Richard Price, agrees, saying: “One crucial consideration is the quality of the products on offer. Cheaper supermarkets might cut corners in terms of product quality or freshness, potentially leading to subpar food items that can impact your health and overall satisfaction. Therefore, it's essential to strike a balance between affordability and the quality of the goods you're purchasing.

“Customer service, cleanliness, and the overall shopping experience also play a role in choosing the right supermarket. A frustrating or uncomfortable shopping environment can make the cheaper option less appealing, and the convenience of a more expensive store with better service may be worth the extra cost.”

Dad handing bananas to his infant daughter who is sitting in a shopping trolley in a supermarket

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You’ll also need to think about how easy the cheapest supermarket is for you to get to. There’s no point travelling miles to a cheaper supermarket if increased petrol or public transport costs eat up your savings. 

Consumer finance specialist, Sarah Pennells from Royal London, also points out that while discount supermarkets can be cheaper, you might not be able to do your full weekly shop at one.

She says: “Some discount stores have very limited ranges, which can mean the cheapest option isn’t available so you have to pay more, or you need to make a separate trip to another supermarket if they’re out of stock of something you need. I use discount supermarkets regularly, but have experienced both of these.”

It’s also important to note that neither Aldi or Lidl offer a full online shopping service either. Lidl is in-store only while Aldi only offers click and collect.

If you're after more ways to save money on your food shop, try this cheese hack. You might also like our guide on how to get free food (or at least heavily discounted food).  

Rachel Wait
Personal finance expert

Mum of two, Rachel is a freelance personal finance journalist who has been writing about everything from mortgages to car insurance for over a decade. Having previously worked at Shares Magazine, where she specialised in small-cap stocks, Rachel developed a passion for consumer finance and saving money when she moved to lovemoney.com. She later spent more than 8 years as an editor at price comparison site MoneySuperMarket, often acting as spokesperson. Rachel went freelance in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, and has since written for numerous websites and national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The Sun and Forbes. She is passionate about helping families become more confident with their finances, giving them the tools they need to take control of their money and make savings. In her spare time, Rachel is a keen traveller and baker.

With contributions from