Asda hit the headlines earlier this year with the launch of their new Just Essentials range, aimed to help customers keep the costs of their weekly food shop down amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The supermarket was slammed for the new bright yellow design with some claiming it was “taking the p*** out of poor people.”

Asda says the Just Essentials range is the "largest ever budget-friendly range" which includes food, toiletries and household essentials.

Responding to criticism, an Asda spokesperson said shoppers are "loving" the new range adding: “We don’t understand why anyone would feel embarrassed for saving money.”

I don’t disagree, we’re all feeling the financial pinch at the minute and after paying my quarterly energy bills I was looking for ways to cut costs this month out of necessity rather than curiosity, so decided to try out the new range.

Before I start, it’s worth noting I usually shop at Aldi, spending between £15 and £20 each week so I arrived with a £20 budget to see how it compared.

The first thing I noticed was that a lot of ‘Just Essentials’ products were sold out, every other aisle I walked down I’d see empty bright yellow boxes surrounded by more expensive options. This unfortunately led to me going slightly over budget.

The Leader: Empty shelves at Asda.Empty shelves at Asda.

Cheese, the first marker of how expensive adult life will be when you leave home, was sold out, a shame because I was hoping it would be good enough to make a permanent swap.

The most shocking was tea bags, a British staple, I’m not sure you can brand your budget range ‘Just Essentials’ and then run out of what is arguably the most ‘essential’ product in Britain. Of course, there could be a number of reasons for this given current delivery issues in the UK and the fact it was a Monday night, so it won’t be affecting the review too much.

Anyway, I digress.

Five ways you can save money on your weekly shop

Asda Just Essentials yellow branding 

Despite the criticism of the new branding, I actually found it really helpful, it’s hard to miss the budget-friendly options which stand out whenever you turn into a new aisle.

The idea that it is somehow a “poverty marker” is a bit over the top, this is Asda, not Waitrose, you won’t be judged for trying to save a few quid here. On top of that, other shoppers are usually too busy stopping their toddler from pulling down the Pringles pyramid to be having a look at your trolley.

Despite over 200 products, the range still feels quite limited but it is there to help bring down your weekly food shop bill, the ‘essentials’ are all there and provide the core ingredients for hearty and healthy meals with a few additions.

Asda Just Essentials products

Meat and fish 

I was a little apprehensive after reading a few negative reviews online put was generally quite impressed with the meat and fish options. The chicken breast portions were quite tasty, I usually pay more than £5, at £3.12 the chicken tastes no different although is a smaller portion than a normal pack.

The Leader: A meal cooked with with Asda's 'Just Essentials' range.A meal cooked with with Asda's 'Just Essentials' range.

The sandwich meats would easily feed a family of five for a week, and for £1.40 it spares up some cash for some salad to add to make sandwiches for lunch. I tried the 'chicken roll', and on its own it's bland and tasteless but good enough to add to a sandwich with salad and sauce to give it some flavour.

The ‘Just Essentials Mince’ at £1.69 for 500g is a lot cheaper than what I’d usually pay and when used for Spaghetti bolognese you really can’t tell the difference. The only downside is the amount of fat drawn out during cooking was slightly off-putting, but once drained it was nice. 

Asda's budget vegetables

The fresh vegetable options in the range are limited, and in fairness, there isn’t a huge price difference from other options. The standout option is a 1kg bag of potatoes for 99p, it’s an absolute bargain. They’re a little bland, but with a bit of seasoning they were a tasty addition in chip, mash and baked form.

The bag of frozen vegetables for 72p however is perfect for adding some veg to quick and easy midweek meals. I find frozen vegetables a bit tasteless so tend to opt for fresh options but there was no difference in the taste to other frozen vegetable brands for a fraction of the price.

Asda Tinned goods and treats

This is where Asda’s budget range really proves its worth. I’m a self-confessed beans snob, it has been Heinz or nothing for as long as I can remember, but after trying the 84p beans I think I’ll be making the swap full time, I actually preferred them.

The soup was also an absolute triumph, the tomato soup was thick and flavourful, and for 30p you can’t knock it.

I also found myself picking up more ‘treats’ than I usually would just because of how cheap they were, 73p for cashew nuts is a steal and will definitely be picking those up again.

The real star of the show was the 45p raspberry rolls, they should probably come with a warning because you could easily sit and eat the whole pack of 6. The best way to describe them is like mini rolls of birthday cake. A friend popped over and left his review: “You’d be buzzing opening your lunch box to one of those back in school.” I think that’s all that needs to be said.

Asda Just Essentials - the verdict 

The Leader: Asda's Just Essentials range was a welcome surprise for this Aldi shopper.Asda's Just Essentials range was a welcome surprise for this Aldi shopper.

I was generally impressed with Asda’s Just Essentials range, the food is of a good quality, especially when you consider the price.

I was particularly impressed with the tinned goods, I expect I will save a fortune on beans and soup in the months ahead.

Would I swap Aldi for Asda going forward? Probably not, but not due to the quality. I think the fruit and vegetable options were limited and not as fresh as you’d hope if you wanted it to last the week, which is why I’ll be returning to Aldi.

I’d definitely continue to purchase items from Asda’s budget range but as affordable add-ons rather than the basis of a weekly shop.