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We went shopping for four typical dishes: we compared prices and saved at the supermarket

Comparing prices takes a lot of work. But it may allow you to save on the supermarket. The typical Portuguese menu that we have created for this article can be up to €2 cheaper if you buy it in three different supermarkets. But if the comparison is product by product, then the savings practically double

Challenge: Surprise foreign friends with a typical Portuguese menu. Soup, meat dish, fish dish and dessert. After much deliberation, here’s what was chosen: green broth, portuguese stew, bras cod, rice pudding. With so much to eat, we skipped the bread or other appetizers. And what about the drink? It should be tap water, to facilitate calculations.

But, before filling the cart, since this is not easy for anyone, we went to compare prices. Not one, but three different supermarkets. To see if the family could pay such a different amount if they chose different stores in their neighborhood. At Telheiras, north of Lisbon, we next visited Continente, Pingo Doce and Aldi.

This typical Portuguese menu can cost up to €1.86 depending on which supermarket you buy it from. On the mainland it will cost €38.50, in Pingo Doce it will be €39.52. Aldi, at 37.66 euros – oddly enough, the series of German origin, was the cheapest.

But it is possible to go further with this saving process. Back home, and with time to think about these numbers, we did some math to see how much we could save on our dishes by choosing the cheapest ingredients in each store. The bill would then be €35.74, a savings of €3.87 compared to more expensive versions of each dish with ingredients always bought in the same store (€39.61).

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By mixing the cheapest products from different stores, green broth will cost €3.52, Portuguese soup €11.60, Bras fish stew €12.44, rice pudding €2.93 and ingredients based €5.25. Now compare how much each dish would cost you if you only bought it in the supermarket.

How are these accounts made?

The reader asks (and rightly so): How did they reach these prices? First, we acknowledge the limitations: We went to Google to find out the recipes and how much of each ingredient was called for. Green broth feeds six, soup also feeds, cod à Brás 4, and rice pudding makes for eight individual servings. We also realized that there were basic things that are not available in our kitchen and were showcasing our dishes. And even though we were spending a little garlic, oil, and salt for these recipes, we had to buy in bulk. I was already careful for the next one.

Although we are talking about groceries, our bills were not from the grocer. We calculated the prices of vegetables, meat, cod, potatoes, rice and sugar based on the price per kilogram. Just what we need. In other words, the bill will be more expensive, since the exact quantities or large quantities that we need to release our inner boss are not always found in stores. In cinnamon, olives and parsley, to taste, we buy the traditional form of sale: jars in the first two and a sauce in the aromatic herb.

The prices used here were referenced during a visit to the three stores in Telheiras on the afternoon of March 23rd. We have not taken into account promotional values, when they exist. So let’s go to the accounts. In green are the best prices for each product, which allows you to access valuable savings by combining your purchases at different stores.

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Caldo Verde Cozido à Portuguese Cod à Brás Arroz Doce Bases Saving Tips

After the three visits, we noticed that there were products that were exactly the same price in all three stores: onions, savoy cabbage, kale, eggs, garlic, and rock salt. In other cases, as you can confirm in the lists above, the difference is minimal.

Another detail is also important for this price list: We’ve always tried to choose products from retailer’s own brands, because, most of the time, they’re cheaper. Only when that wasn’t possible did we choose products from other brands, always choosing the cheapest ones.

We took a list of what we needed for the three supermarkets and wrote down all the prices. These comparison and reference measures are part of a body of advice that consumer protection association Deco has put forward over the past few months.

Monitoring prices, especially in the current context of inflation, also takes a lot of time. But let’s forget, for a few seconds, that time is money. It took about 1 hour and 15 minutes for Continente and Pingo Doce. At Aldi, which has a smaller store than the previous brands, it took about 45 minutes.