As we’ve said a million times this experiment changed our lives for the better. On us it has had a huge impact in many respects. We also hope that our actions have had an impact on our local economy. Even a few months after the end of our official year it’s so exciting to receive so many emails, tweets and facebook messages from our lovely readers who have decided to go supermarket free (either totally or just a few elements) as a result of being inspired by our journey. It is extremely humbling to hear your stories and experiences and we thought how interesting it would be to put a figure on the wider implications of our very personal journey.
Obviously this is probably completely flawed but bear with us. We thought if we had a list of people, what they’d done and the amount of money they used to spend in supermarket and for how long they had moved this money elsewhere we could……… do some sums!
This is for no reason other than interest but we also thought you too might be interested to see the figures as well.
One of our lovely followers who has done a bit of the old ‘life without supermarkets’ is the lovely Heather. We were really excited to hear about her experience and we thought you would be too. We haven’t had a guest blog for ages so with a rather excited cheer…….Heather…… It’s over to you.
Hi, I’m Heather and I live with my husband Neil and our 2 boys aged 9 and nearly 7. We / I decided to have a month of being Supermarket Free for January 2014. It was very difficult to know in the beginning as to whether this would be a success or not. For me I want to make better ethical choices about shopping, for Neil it’s the cold hard facts of saving money. He was also very anxious about the number of Nectar Points he was going to miss out on (we’re Sainsbury’s shoppers).
To start off with we entered January with a lot of food from the Christmas period so we didn’t have to buy much, which is helpful. Although we’ve historically always spent a lot of money on food, we don’t waste any and will always use up everything we have.
Our first big food shop came and it was tipping it down with rain! To make our lives easier we left the boys with their grandparents for a couple of hours and embarked on the shopping ourselves. We had some interesting experiences, like discovering a gorgeous parmesan cheese in an independent Italian Deli and chatting with market stall holders in Watford Market. Another plus was the whole thing only took 1 hour and 15 minutes even though we’d been to 4 shops and the market. That certainly was surprising! However all in all it was a mission as we had to carry bags of heavy food through the driving rain back to the car.
As January went on I discovered a large ish Asian grocery store in North Watford that I have used for a top up shop most weeks. Their fruit and veg is unbelievably good value and they sell all sorts of interesting Asian foods which we love in our house. Then every Saturday I have completed the bulk of the food shopping at Watford Market. They have a great Fruit & Veg stall, a butchers, a small deli counter and an “ingredients” stall which sells all kinds of nuts, seeds, oats, spices and so on.
We have a weekly veg box delivered from Abel and Cole www.abelandcole.co.uk and we have daily milk delivered by the milkman, we’ve been doing that for about 9 years or so.
Toiletries, and tinned or dry goods have come from B&M Bargains, Wilkinsons or Superdrug. We had to allow those as there isn’t anywhere else. I have had cleaning products delivered from www.ethicalsuperstore.com and I checked out other online food retailers as well such as Approved Food.
The main points which I’ve had to adapt to is: meal planning and making more from scratch. Now, I’m a meticulous planner with food and I love making things from scratch. However I had to make sure I had a concrete plan as to what we were all going to eat each week and where that was going to come from. I’ve also created a new routine of cooking up a batch of soup every Sunday to last me the week for lunches. Previously I would go to Waitrose near my work and buy their ready-made chilled soups. I’ve also been home making bread (I was given a bread maker) and pesto sauces for pasta. Again things I’ve made before but only as one offs, not a regular event.
There’s only been a couple of down sides to not shopping in supermarkets. One is that the boys missed a couple of food items that they love but I just couldn’t source from anywhere else. Also the carrying of the food – it’s heavy and occasionally needed multiple trips back to the car when I was shopping alone. One other point is it’s hard to be caught on the hop. If the boys suddenly fancy something for dinner or as a snack it’s not usually available and they have to wait until I go shopping. Also if we have a friend back from school for tea that’s unplanned then it sends me into all sorts of panic!
Neil really wasn’t on board with this process in the beginning but these facts speak for themselves: In January 2012 we spent £592.75 in supermarkets and Abel & Cole. In January 2013 we spent £577.42 in the same supermarkets and Abel & Cole. In January 2014 we spent: £316.63 in no supermarkets and Abel & Cole. WOW!!!
We have now decided that we’ll continue in the same way with shopping. Most of our food is bought at the Market and other independent stores around Watford. However if we really need something that can’t be bought elsewhere then we are allowing a bit of Sainsbury’s shopping. For example this weekend we spent £27 in Watford Market and £8 in Sainsbury’s and I think we can live with that.