Sunday, 18 July 2010

Alternative Ways of Shopping

Since my OH has been out of work (and I know we are not the only ones) I have had to make adjustments to the way I shop and what I shop for. Gone are the days when I used to go to the supermarket once a month and stock up on stuff, just taking what I fancied with no real regard to cost.  In fact it is a rare occurence if I go to the supermarket these days at all for a proper shop.  I have more of an eye these days as to costs.  In fact it has bee a steep learning curve of a different kind and I don't think that I could go back to the way I used to do things even if I had the money, which I don't.  I have enjoyed the challenge of making the pennies stretch as far as I can and getting the best deal  I can for my money.  Taking advantage of bog-offs, Wilkinsons, pound stores, special offers, markets and smaller shops as well as cheaper stores like Lidl and Aldi and of course the market and my local veg shop. And above all I try and make as much as I can from the basic ingredients as I have found that investing a little time and energy in making things means that I get a lot more for my money, and I also have some modicum of control as to what ingredients are in there ie. no hidden surprises.

To start with when I go shopping these days I tend to go to the cheaper stores first.They have a lot of good quality items at much cheaper prices so I go and look there see what they have and do the bulk of the stock up from there. Plus the fact cheaper stores like Lidl and Aldi tend to have some of the more exotic ingredients that you can really end up paying through the nose with.  Salami and bacon bits etc just a couple of items that we use and every so often they have specials like Greek or Italian ingredients at greatly reduced prices. I tend to stock up on the basics in these stores such as tinned goods i.e. Tuna, sweetcorn, tinned tomatoes, chopped tomatoes fruits, corned beef, fruit juice, soft drinks, sweeties, etc etc.

I try and write a list of the items I really need i.e. have a look at what should be in season so if I know blackberries are coming in will buy more sugar etc in order that I can put good basic foods up for the winter months.  I particularly do this if I am going to be making something new.  For the same reason I try and ensure that I have enough preserving jars and jam jars in my store.

I haven't been shy of trying alernative products especially if they are on offer.  Its like a recognisance mission really as if I find that the product is more acceptable I tend to go on and use it again and again. Equally though if it is not up to muster it doesn't get used again.

Although I use bog off offers I always weigh up whether or not it is cheaper to buy a couple of smaller packs of the same item or the actual bog off item.  Be careful to consider this as you could be paying more and the shops are quite crafty when it comes to this so please do your calculations and do a comparison before you buy.

I also have a tinned pantry items like fruit in juice/syrup Corned Beef Tuna Salmon, Condensed Milk, Nestle Tinned Cream, tinned soup for when in a hurry, baked beans, tomatoes both whole and crushed, pilchards, sild etc in tomato sauce, anchovies, sweet corn, tinned veggies for emergencies, sauces, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, etc etc.  The tinned pantry is really my back up store and is in constant use.  .I also keep in tinned goose fat if I can get it and tinned chestnuts and pureed chestnutsys a meal to be had somewhere from this store as a result of items that are there or with the addition of other items.  This store I tend to top up on making sure that the date stamps on the bottom of the tins are quite a way forward and then I don't top it up for ages and just use what is in store.  As soon as the store diminishes I go tin shopping again.  Having this store of basic foods also means we can eat even when we don't always have the money without having to expend further funds.  We just top up when we have the pennies. And I mix and match tinned products with fresh products as well.

I also keep lots of pasta and rice in as well as different flours and cereal products.  Porridge oats I keep in quantity as I use them for making flap jacks, for porridge, in home made Muesli, and in baking. I usually get these from the Co-op as they do big bags of them for around about £1 or so.  I also keep various flours as make my own bread and do my own baking.  There is nothing nicer than the smell of bread baking or cakes etc baking in the oven.

I keep plenty of butter and lard in as well as Stork margarine.  I buy the butter when it is on offer  though.  Sugar I do the same with and buy what I can when I can.  However I tend to buy for the best part in bulk bags from Sainsburys as this works out far cheaper although my local pound shop has had 1.5 kg bags of sugar at £1 a throw just recently.

Basically where I can I try and take advantage of any offers or "bargains" (as long as they are bargains) but generally we eat very well despite everything, so things aren't that bad and they certainly could be a lot worse than they are. 

That's why I would like the place in the country not far from the coast, but with a bit of land that has orchards or has room to plant one.  Producing some of your own food if not all of it has to be the way forward in the long run.  It would be nice to go shopping in the garden and get the best part of what I need from there rather than from the supermarket. !


  1. This was important reading!

  2. An excellent post as usual, a lot to think about.


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