I haven’t updated for a while on our endeavour to shop locally as much as possible and to avoid shopping in the big supermarkets. Which in the Scottish Borders are Asda and Tesco’s in Galashiels. Plus now Sainsburys in Kelso. Sainsburys like Asda and Tesco’s now dominates the landscape. You can now see Sainburys just about in every direction when you enter Kelso especially at this time of year. Its orange light shinning bright is a reminder of mass consumerism. And that the Scottish Borders like all areas of the UK is now served by the big three supermarkets.
We gave up going to Tesco’s in February really as an experiment. At the time it was part to save money and eat what we had in our freezer and part to see could we actually survive by shopping just in the local shops?
What we found was a radical change to our lives. We did and have continued to reduce our food bill. For two main reasons. One you buy less when you shop more often and you are less likely to buy things that you don’t need.
This leads on to another key benefit we have found. We throw out a lot less as we have less fresh ingredients in our fridge and we tend to look in the fridge first and devise a meal than our previous habit of shop first before realising we had food in any way. We have had some brilliant left over food meals and it amuses me that the kids tend to love these meals and prefer the food more second time around. If we can’t consume what we have fresh I have found myself being more effective by freezing it or turning the ingredients into soup and then freezing that if not required. I would be lying if I said I don’t throw out food it does still happen. But hand on heart I would say it’s probably three quarters of what I threw out before when we shopped weekly at Tesco’s and basically bought too much. So in these times of austerity shopping locally and more frequently has saved us money both in buying the food but also in using the food so that we don’t waste our money.
The biggest advantage though is that it has given us the gift of time. Now I know you might think shopping more frequently would mean that we would spend more time shopping. But no it doesn’t five minutes here and five minutes there. I admit we are lucky we still have local shops on our doorstep and I know if we don’t use them we will loose them. Shopping locally is stress free. My husband is a new man on a Friday night as he no longer has the Tesco’s shop hanging over him all day. The stress of the actual shop. The worry at the checkout at the bill and then the packing and unpacking of the shopping.
I have always hated supermarket shopping. The shopping part I didn’t mind but the checkout part for me was always stress city hurrying to get the goods on the conveyor belt then whizzing through to the other end to pack the goods and aim to be finished when the cashier was. Then the horror at the bill especially as I always managed to increase it by at least 25%. Friday nights in the Drane household is a far nicer place. Well apart from my husband managing last Friday to flood the bath and the kitchen but that is another story.
Apart from local shops we have topped up our stores by shopping from the co operative mail order company Suma along with others in the village which allows us to mass buy dry goods and then we use Aldi as well as another dry food top up source. A local farmer delivers our milk once a week and apart from that we shop in the local shops here in St Boswells and Melrose.
If you had asked me a year ago would I have been able to not shop in a big supermarket for a month I would have said unlikely. If you had suggested I do it for the best part of a year I would have said impossible.
But it hasn’t been. There are two things and two things only that I miss just now. One is the ability to buy toilet paper in bulk. I am a toilet paper stalker in the local co-op always looking out for a bargain otherwise its really expensive. And we have had occasions when toilet paper supplies have run rather low as we wait the next bargain. The other thing I miss is Mascarpone cheese. No one supplies that locally that I’ve found. It’s a cheese I love for pasta dishes and desserts. But two small things isn’t bad is it?
And the benefits out way these small desires. It’s allowing us to stick and maintain a food budget, we have a lot less waste, we are less stressed now that we don’t worship at Tesco’s once a week. We feel better morally as we are supporting local shops and the produce in the main is far superior.
Will we continue our boycott in 2012? What do you think?