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…
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…