Impact Scale

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Just wondering……….

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 weeks shop

This weeks shop

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This is for no reason other than interest but we also thought you too might be interested to see the figures as well.

So if in any way our actions have changed your shopping actions please fill in the below form and ……. watch this space.impact 2

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.heather

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 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 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.


A little Challenge?

shop local 2Well that’s it folks, Christmas has been and gone and we are now in those weird few days between Christmas and New Year. Presents have been played with, admired and are starting to make their way to their new homes. Lizzie is pleased to be home and play with her ‘titchen’ and Becksie and Ian are cooking up some ideas for new blog mini series. And……. as soon as this blog post is done and dusted we are planning to watch television for the first time in a month.

That’s right we did it, we managed (over) a month without television and it really wasn’t all that painful, it has really got us thinking and we will post our thoughts about it very local 4

Yesterday was an exciting old day as we made page 3 of  The Daily Mail. Ian was looking very dapper, Lizzie looks very beautiful and Becksie (whilst looking very Daily Mail) didn’t really look like herself – oh well. Of course there have been many comments on the story (some not so nice), mostly about the shopping lists not being comparable, Becksie having annoying hair and looking 39 eeeekk and double grrrrr) – it would seem that people have forgot to factor in that the pictures and list were an example shops – oh very dear. Today Becksie also did an interview with Larry Lamb for LBC radio, he was jolly nice and seemed very positive about finding alternative shopping methods and the interview seemed to spark a good debate. Anyway we figure if your reading this you get where we are coming and can see the merits of local shopping.

Which bring us to the point of the post……….

As we said its nearly New Year and what happens at New Year? Of course we all make New Year’s resolutions. Last year we decided to get more organised and we think on the whole we have succeed. We are spending some time thinking up our resolutions for next year and thought that you might also be doing the same.

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Well…….. we have a suggestion, why not make a pledge to make 2014  the year of local shopping. We know that our challenge is perhaps the extreme and some of you have said it would be impossible where you live, however (again) if you are reading this you probably are already doing this at least a little and certainly care about local shops, so why not get involved (even in a small way), for example challenging yourselves to only buy meat from the butchers?

You could also pop over to the Shop Local website to pledge your support for what we think is a brilliant and worthwhile campaign. Who knows you might even get information about campaigns and events and……top tips on how to make this local shopping lark work for you.

We’d also like to put a little appeal out…………………….we would love to feature some guest blogs from readers who are either currently local shopping or take it up as part of a New Year’s resolution – please do contact us!

And if we don’t see you before, Happy New Year!!

Better Late Than Never (a guest post by Mammar)

gridle 4For the best part of a year we have been asking Mammar to contribute a guest post to our year without supermarkets. She has done her very best to get out of it and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that Mammar wouldn’t join our other guest posters (you know Da, Grannie, Aunty Leah, Uncle Liam, Aunty Janet, Aunty Mary to name a few) but….. it seems that Mammar has had a change of heart. Now this change of heart is based on the fact that we plan to have the entire blog printed into a keepsake book that Lizzie can read in future times and Mammar wants her thoughts to also be a part of this. So…… Mammar its over to you………………………………….

gridle 1Last Saturday when we went to Cogges Farm with Ian, Becksie and Lizzie they were serving freshly baked welsh griddle cakes and I realised that I had a griddle stashed way back in my pantry that I have not used for a long while. So…… I turned to Becksie and said ‘ooohh we’ll have to make some of those’. As a Little Mummy who has got out of the habit of baking Becksie said ‘ooh yeah I’ll wait for some of those’!! So….. on the Tuesday following our visit I produced a batch of welsh griddle cakes and there upon Becksie said ‘a blog post please’. So here’s goes:

gridle 5Take 8oz of Self Raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice, 4 oz margarine, 2 oz sugar, 2 oz sultanas (it technically should be currants but Mary Berry Gray had run out), 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of milk.

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gridle 2Then:

Mix the flour, salt and mixed spice and rub in margarine. Stir in the sugar and the sultanas and mix to form a stiff dough with the egg and milk. Spoon equal pieces of dough onto the well greased griddle and press down. Alternatively, you could roll the dough and cut into rounds. Remember to warm your griddle during the preparation of the dough. Bake for about 5 minutes then flip over and cook for a further five minutes.

gridle 6Serve buttered!


welsh cakesI am sure Lizzie and I will make these many times as she grows up and she’ll always have the recipe in her special year without supermarkets book.

The End

Love Mammar!

Convenience (a guest post by Mary)

Today we’ve had a busy old day and had zero motivation to come up with a blog post. As we were thinking about what to do Becksie’s mobile went bing and a message from Auntie Mary told us that a guest blog was waiting in our inbox. How convenient (;)). Thank you, Mary it’s over to you…………..

mary 3As the nights draw in and the sound of fireworks starts to fill the evenings I’m reminded that the year without supermarkets for Team Pugh is coming to an end. I’ve really enjoyed reading about their journey and if there’s one thing I’ve taken from their experience it’s a change in perspective on how I view convenience.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a bit of a troubled relationship with convenience; I love it but I also resent it. In the world we live in it is becoming increasingly difficult to strike a balance between what we could do, should do or are able to do. Often we choose the easy route, but the trouble with convenience is that it usually means we miss out on something better, more interesting and exciting or just cheaper. I’ve lost count of the times over the past year that Becksie has come up against difficulties, only to discover something amazing or meet someone new.

There’s this awful advert on the TV at the moment for an internet takeaway ordering service. The idea of the advert is that cooking is a waste of our spare time and we should leave it to the chefs. Why waste precious time cooking a family meal when you can order a pizza, a Chinese or a curry? Now, I don’t have children, but I can certainly relate to the feeling that that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but it seems sad to me that anyone would think that cooking was good time wasted. It’s part of what makes us human, that we use tools to create something whether it be food, music or art. That’s why ‘a year without supermarkets’ has resonated with me, because it’s kind of depressing to buy your food over processed, vacuum packed and tasteless, when you could make something so much better for half the price.

Convenience often involves a trade off. If I sat down and worked out how long at work I’d spend sending emails, writing reports, going to meetings or just generally doing things I really don’t want to do to earn enough money to buy a takeaway for the whole family… well… it probably wouldn’t seem that convenient at all.

In the spirit of this, last weekend I decided to make pizza from scratch. I’m not going to bore you with the recipe because you if you’re reading this, you can probably google it like I did!

mary 2I made the dough.

mary 1Quickly put together some tomatoes, onion, chilli and garlic for the base (really lazy garlic if you don’t like touching it like me!!)

mary 4Then my boyfriend took them off to a friend’s house to be cooked and enjoyed. They had them with beers and computer games (he is 35 years old).

And there you have it. Yeah it takes a bit longer, but I enjoyed it. They tasted really lovely and it was cheap to do so what the hell! Maybe next time you pop into a supermarket because you haven’t got time etc, just think… what are you missing out on?

The Jam Pan (a guest post by Grannie Pugh)

There is something wonderful about sharing family recipes, especially new ones. So……… Grannie it’s over to you………

This morning my trusty jam kettle – bought several years ago from a charity shop for just £1 – had a very rude awakening when it was fetched down from the loft once more.  It had thought it had finished its work for the summer after the raspberry and rhubarb jam we made a few weeks ago.

jam pan 1


Speaking of raspberries and rhubarb there is lovely young man who was a summer visitor to our neighbours for many years.  On his first visit here he wanted to know what the plants were that grow at the bottom of our garden.  He had never seen rhubarb before and didn’t know what it was. When he returned to his home in Eastern Europe at the end of the summer he asked whether he could take a plant.  He did – in a black bag as his hand luggage on the plane.   The following year he returned home with a raspberry plant in the same way.  He had never seen raspberries before either.   Both plants settled into their new home and it is nice to know that our raspberries and rhubarb are now thriving over there on the Continent.

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Last weekend we were given a lovely big bag of apples picked by Ian from one of his local trees.  Perfect for baked apples, for pies and for stewing.  This week we have been enjoying them stewed with blackberries, with raspberries and on their own. We have several tubs in the freezer ready for the winter, we have very much enjoyed baked apples for desserts and we also have some stored for use later.

Yesterday that lovely young man from Eastern Europe, who now lives permanently next door, gave us a bucket full of windfalls.   No good for storing.   Perfect for ……………………………Apple Chutney.     Cue – the Jam Pan.

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We used a combination of several recipes and we now present:-

‘Pugh’s Apple Chutney’.

1.5 kg of apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped

2 Medium Onions – finely chopped

500gm Sultanas

500gm Sugar

700 ml Malt Vinegar

2 teaspoons Ground Ginger

2 teaspoons All-Spice


Put all the ingredients into a Jam Pan or a large, heavy saucepan.   Slowly bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes stirring frequently until thick and pulpy.   When it is thick enough for you to draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, it is ready to spoon into sterilised jars and seal.

This quantity made seven jars.

jam pan 4

Now we know you should leave it for about six weeks to mature properly before you use it but you have got to try it haven’t you?   We can confirm that Pugh’s Apple Chutney is very yummy indeed, so yummy that we are going to make some more tomorrow.