We tasted winter pantry staples to find the best value
Winter is knocking on the door, and we are getting ready for soup season in a big way! This is the time of year for soups, stews, hot chocolate, and food that is warming and comforting.
We tested a range of well-known food brands against their no-name competition from Spar, Woolworths, Pick n Pay and Checkers. All samples were tasted “blind”, that is without any labels or packaging, to try to make the results as fair as possible. We wanted to know which products tasted better and where we could save some Rands on our food shopping bill.
1. Butternut soup
Pick n Pay 400g, R19.99 (R49.97 per kilo)
Spar 410g, R18.99 (R46.31 per kilo)
Woolworths 400g, R26.99 (R67.47 per kilo)
Pot O’ Gold* 410g, R16.99 (R41.43 per kilo)
Denny 400g, R22.99 (R57.47)
Tinned soup is not something we often eat at home, opting instead to make a batch of soup with lots of veggies and homemade stock. South Africa’s favourite soup – butternut soup, is produced by a number of different brands and we tasted them side by side.
Most of these were ok, and with a little seasoning and a few croutons, were are a tasty batch for winter nights when you don’t feel like cooking. Denny butternut soup had an unnerving mushroom flavour (even when tasted blind!) and Woolworths butternut soup did not impress us at all.
Verdict: Pot ‘o Gold wins this test by a country mile! Delicious flavour, creamy texture, and all at a great price!
2. Instant soup – single serving
Pick n Pay R16.99 (R5.66 per serving)
The Kitchen* R14.99 (R4.99 per serving)
Knorr Cup a soup R18.99 (R6.33 per serving)
These lunchtime classics are popular for a reason – the hot liquid and salty hit is just right if you’re feeling a bit chilly. We didn’t find much difference between these samples, although Knorr had a few bits of herbs and vegetables which added some texture.
Verdict: A cup of soup is an easy snack, but be careful of consuming too much salt!
3. Hot chocolate
Woolworths 500g R62.99 (R125.98 per kilo)
Nestle 500g R56.99 (R113.98 per kilo)
Spar 500g R59.99 (R119.98 per kilo)
Nomu 250g R56.99 (R227.96 per kilo) Note: packshot shown is 500g R89.95 (R179.90 per kilo)
All of these were made exactly to their respective instructions – all with hot water, and gosh were they disappointing! One was almost undrinkable, and most were weak and dusty tasting. This leads us to the conclusion that if you’re making hot chocolate at home you should a) use about double the recommended amount and b) always add milk. The more expensive ones were not the best in this line-up, so save yourself some money and stick to Nestle.
Verdict: the best one for us was Nestle, which we think is due to the high milk content.
*Correction: a previous version of this article depicted a different Nomu product. This has now been corrected.
4. Baked beans in tomato sauce
Woolworths 410g, R11.99 (R29.24 per kilo)
Koo 410g, R11.99 (R29.24 per kilo)
Pick n Pay Livewell 410g, R9.99 (R24.36 per kilo)
Pot O’ Gold 410g, R9.99 (R24.36 per kilo)
Checkers Housebrand 410g, R8.99 (R21.92 per kilo)
Rhodes 410g, R10.99 (R26.24 per kilo)
Baked beans are the foundation of any loadshedding meal or full English breakfast, but in this batch of samples, there was really nothing very impressive. We found two main characteristics – beans that had a great texture (such as Pot O’ Gold) and beans that had a tasty sauce (Rhodes and Woolworths). None that we tasted had a good combination of both, unfortunately.
Verdict: They’re all basically the same, although Pot O’ Gold beans had a smooth texture, and the sauce could maybe be fixed with a good dose of salt and pepper.
Some of the products really surprised us with their quality and affordability. The ones we would buy again are:
- Pot O’ Gold Butternut soup was delicious and by far the cheapest – we’d be happy to serve it to our mother-in-law.
- Nestle Hot Chocolate is our favourite, but don’t expect it to stretch as far as it says on the label.
- Pick any baked beans – they’re all much the same. Spice them up as you like with red pepper, chilli sauce or fresh parsley.
- Buy the instant soup that is on special offer – but don’t rely on them for any meaningful nutrition!
This article is not sponsored in any way and Food24 was not paid to come to any particular result. Our taste tests are always unbiased and intended for your information. However, you may have come to this article through various paid-for advertising.