Supermarket-free Me: Shopping Local

I am going supermarket-free for Lent. As long as I don’t set foot in a supermarket (or buy from a supermarket internet site) then I will pass the challenge. However, it is important to me that I achieve a little more than that so I am trying to shop locally where I can, and/or from ethical suppliers.

In the past six days I have been in numerous local shops, picking up things I need here and there, hoping that I have all bases covered. It’s been convenient enough for me because, as the mother to small children, I am out and about in the community anyway. Anything – even a trip for toilet paper – can be turned into a mini expedition!

I live in a town with a good selection of shops – there is a mix of chains, franchises and independents but even so, I have discovered I can’t find the range of items that I am able to in the local (huge) supermarket. I was prepared for this (having gone supermarket-free for 28 days last year) and have been happy to change what I eat to some extent and to get creative with the weird and wonderful items I’ve already got in my kitchen – see this post. Last year, for example, in this post I remember searching high and low for mozzarella cheese and soya mince. I bought some in the end but they were expensive. I can live without these items but the two categories of food I’m struggling with at the moment are ingredients for my bread maker and organic products.

Outwith the supermarket I’ve not been able to find bread flour, skimmed milk powder or yeast in my local shops. I’ve not scoured every single shop (although I have visited those most likely to stock them) so I may find that I am able to update you on this one. On Saturday, I drove to a nearby locality and found the flour and yeast but not the skimmed milk powder. I’m sure I’ll be able to source it on the internet but had the local shops sold it, they’d have got my business.

The lack of organic products I’m able to find is also bothering me. I have got used to buying organic wherever I can and my local supermarket has served me well – I can get lots of everyday items as organic versions such as butter, mayonnaise, cheese, juice. Locally though, I’m struggling to even find organic milk while I’m waiting for my milk delivery direct from a dairy to start.

Maybe buying so many organic things sounds unnecessary but in the supermarket they are affordable and accessible and I’ve come to think of them as everyday items. Before I had children, I didn’t think or care much about organic (and maybe it wasn’t so readily available) but now I feel like I’m ‘downgrading’ to settle for less.

I’m also struggling to price-compare every item when shopping on the High Street. In the supermarket, prices are clearly displayed and there’s the opportunity to look at the cost of things online before you venture out of your home, although, I’ve read that the same supermarket chain in different areas can have varying prices – do leave a comment if you have any information on this! In some of my local shops, you don’t know the price until you reach the till or ask an assistant – which doesn’t seem customer-friendly.

However, before this post starts to sound like a big moan(!) I am still thoroughly committed to ditching the supermarket for Lent and supporting local business. I still feel that I have choices – I have an organic veg box delivered each week plus I am happy to use non-supermarket websites to buy any other organic products I want and the Ethical Superstore is great for many of these items.

I was also really delighted to discover that a shop a short drive away (or a long walk away) sells a number of items ‘unpackaged’ which include store cupboard staples…

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and even laundry detergent. This is a fantastic find for me as I am attempting to give up disposable plastics in july (see this post) and so far it’s looking like it’s going to be really…well…difficult!

All in all, so far the positives of giving up the supermarket for Lent are outweighing the negatives. Let’s see how this challenge progresses…

19 thoughts on “Supermarket-free Me: Shopping Local

  1. Yes to the price differences. I was shocked! We have three co-ops within a few miles of one another and the prices are definitely different depending on wealth of area 😉

  2. Makes me realise how lucky we are in west Wales with so many local shops, farm shops and markets to access. These days I buy most of my flour on-line from Shipton Mill, apart form the wholemeal that comes direct from our local watermill who also sell yeast! I do wish, however, more shops sold unpackaged goods.
    I was thinking about plastics the other day and realised one good thing and one bad.
    The bad: toilet rolls used to come packed in paper, but now seem to always be in plastic (even the eco ones) 😦
    But, the good: Weetabix now comes in paper rather than plastic inside the box 🙂

    • I’m lucky too with the shops near me but I’m struggling a little this week. Saying that, I think shopping locally is the kind of thing you get better at the more you do it and I might be able to request that things get ordered in for me to buy.

      I get toilet roll that comes in compostable wrap which is great but I buy it in bulk and all of that lovely compostable packaging is bound together in plastic! So near, yet so far!!!

  3. Can you find a bread recipe for the machine without some ingredients? I don’t use skimmed milk powder.
    The recipe I use is:
    -some olive oil or butter
    -300 ml water
    -8 grams salt
    -10 grams sugar
    -500 grams flour (I get my flour from paper bags at the windmill, you can really use any flour, not just special “bread flour”)
    -5 grams dry yeast

    • That’s fab, thank you so much!

      My OH was on the net this morning researching if you can use straight milk instead. He reckons yes but I’ll need to look into it further …

      • Milk adds ‘softness’. You can replace the water in your recipe with a liquid of your choice. In your case you’d probably want to replace the liquid with liquid milk, but I quite often used to swill out tomato puree jars or used up excess whey. Whatever takes your fancy!

      • My bread machine bread was always an adventure! Once I had the basic recipe sorted I worked out that you could chuck in all sorts of things to use them up 😉

        I miss the bread machine as my partner now makes the bread ´properly´ and the excitement is limited to what he puts on top!

  4. I am totally in ore with what you are doing. I try but not always successfully try and shop in the local butchers, fruit and veg shop and deli but there are always things that I need up needing from the supermarket. It is hard to price compare but in the supermarket do not have the choice to buy the current amount of ingredients you need. Good luck with the challenge and looking forward to reading how you get on.

    • Thanks for all of your kind comments and promotion of my blog! It’s great to hear from others who are interested in this stuff. I agree that there always seems to be things needed from the supermarket no matter how good the local shops are… Maybe one day, going supermarket-free will be much easier. fingers crossed!

      • You are very welcome WestyWrites I am very interested in your no supermarket shopping challenge and how you and your family are finding the changes. I look forward to your next update. X

  5. Pingback: Supermarket-free Me: Solutions not problems! | westywrites

  6. Me again – been offline for a couple of days, so I’m catching up with blog posts slowly but surely!

    I was a little bit concerned about this comment:
    “In some of my local shops, you don’t know the price until you reach the till or ask an assistant – which doesn’t seem customer-friendly”

    No, it’s not customer-friendly, and it’s not very legal either. The price should be clearly marked either on a shelf-edge ticket or an individual price label attached to the product. If the product scans at a higher price than that indicated on the shelf/product, this is also a no-no and Trading Standards would have a field day if they were to find out. It has been some time since I worked in food retail, but when I started with Safeway (not exactly yesterday), it was a legal requirement to quote the price of weighed goods at the checkout (that’ll be 68p for your carrots, madam) as we were ringing them through the till. Regulations may well have changed since then

    With regard to different stores from the same chain charging different prices, this is also true. The town I worked in had three Co-operative stores, two of them being ex-Alldays and they had different (higher) prices from the larger one. By and large, goods that are promoted through print and broadcast media should have the same prices, but it always pays to read the small-print.

    • All very interesting to know, thank you! Re price per item, I’m finding that more local shops sometimes have sticky labels on the items so I guess that’s a much bigger task that sometimes doesn’t happen or is just hard to spot. I must read up and find out more.

  7. Pingback: Supermarket-free Me: Learning about ethical consuming | westywrites

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