I’m old enough to remember when supermarkets first arrived in our town.
But now I’m trying to go supermarket free for a whole year.
And have already been reported in i news magazine!
The arrival of the big sell-it-all shop must have been a relief to Mum. All those daily trips up the high street (she didn’t drive), all those different shops, and four young children to drag/push/encourage around with her.
Happy shopping times
I have good memories of the games we played on those walks, of the green grocer who would deliver sacks of potatoes and give us apples, and the fresh bread whose crust didn’t last all the way home. I can remember being embarrassed about but secretly enjoying the shopping trolley Mum bought when my youngest sister finally grew out of her pushchair.
Supermarket, super choice
But I also have good memories of those first supermarket trips. For a start we went in the car (the first time I can remember Dad being involved in the shopping experience). The excitement at seeing all that food, the interest in the increased choice, the wonder at the high-piled trolley (did we really eat that much?)
And sweeties at the checkout
My younger, excited self might perhaps now be surprised at older, wiser me because I honestly used to enjoy a trip around the supermarket. I learned that pasta wasn’t always long and thin and didn’t have to arrive in a blue packet, that yoghurts could be orange flavoured and arrive in three-spoonful pots, and that cereals could sometimes be made of chocolate.
I didn’t learn where my food was coming from
My experience of farming came later in life when I visited family in New Zealand. You don’t have to travel far there before you meet someone who keeps at least a few animals or grows something tasty to sell. Well before gap years were really invented I found myself earning my way by packing pumpkins, picking kiwi fruit and thinning grapes.
I learned how hard farmers and growers work
And how precarious their lifestyles are. And what fantastic supportive communities they form. And how we all owe them a debt of gratitude.
Time passed, I came home and got married, we had three children. All of whom I raised by visiting the cheapest supermarkets I could. I didn’t do very well at growing my own vegetables but I was good at home cooking from scratch. Just like I had, my children ate a lot of apple crumble, cheese pie and cake.
Once the children have been allowed to leave home (I insisted they learned how to make cheese sauce and gravy first), I’ve had more time to think about the way I’m living.
And gradually things have been changing
- I’ve learned about permaculture and forest gardening
- I’ve taught myself how to make jam and ferments
- I’ve investigated foraging
- I’ve bought a dehydrator and a yoghurt maker
- Mr D has become an impressive sourdough baker
- I’ve read lots about how unfairly supermarkets treat farmers and growers
That’s how I ended up challenging myself to try supermarket-free shopping for a whole year
The end of January 2023 has arrived with no supermarket visits to my name. Okay so my daughter did ‘pay’ my husband for a lift with a pack of Lidl coffee (she felt sorry for him). And my local vegetable box supplier did run out of mozzarella and buy me some from Asda.
But apart from that we have survived, used less, and even enjoyed going a whole month without supermarket shopping.
And what’s more, I’ve just added it all up and we haven’t spent any more money than usual.
But we are about to run out of loo roll!
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PS This post was supposed to be all about how we’ve tackled our supermarket-free challenge so far. You know the sort of thing, successes, failures, cheese rationing!
You’ll also get the chance to read about my adventures by train!