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The third interview in my supermarket free series.
First off tell us a bit about yourself and your blog?
Hi there, I am Zoë Morrison and I write Eco Thrifty Living. I started the blog a few years ago when I was on maternity leave because I wanted to find a way to afford to quit my job and become a stay at home mum. Whilst working I was able to afford eco-friendly products and organic food. I didn’t want to compromise on my eco-friendly principles so I set about finding ways that I could save money and be eco-friendly and wrote about them on my blog. I did manage to quit my job and I have gone on to discover that being eco-friendly and saving money are often very complementary!
When did you first decide to go supermarket free and why?
Back in September 2013 I decided to set myself a year of eco challenges. I took on one challenge a month and some I continued until the end of the year. Going supermarket free was my second challenge. I decided to do it for a variety of reasons including supporting local businesses, avoiding packaging and seeing if I could buy things cheaper outside the supermarkets (you read my original blog post about it here)
How long have you been supermarket free?
Since September 2013 I have bought the bulk of my shopping outside the supermarket. During my challenge year I made a couple of exceptions when I had no other options and since then I made a decision to buy some products from the supermarkets.
How did you start your supermarket free adventure? Did you go full throttle or wean yourself into it?
I gave myself a couple of weeks of trying alternatives to the supermarkets and then I launched into my challenge. It was a scary prospect at the time as I had no idea whether it was going to be easy or a whole load of hassle.
Where do you do most of your food shopping now?
For a long time I went to a local shopping street which has a butchers, grocers, pharmacy, corner shop, Chinese grocery shop, various charity shops and more. I found I could get most things I needed there. I also went and still go to a local fishmongers
Now I get an organic fruit and veg box delivery and get milk and bread from the milkman. I still go to the shopping street I used to go to occasionally, especially for the Chinese shop, the charity shops and the butchers for meat and cheese. I also run an egg group – there is a local farm that sells trays of 30 free range organic eggs for £3.50. It is a bit too far to justify going there just for myself so a group of us take it in turns to go up there and get them every 3 weeks. The eggs get dropped at my house and then people come and pick them up. Another place I buy food from is a local wholesalers. They sell organic foods in bulk and their own brand bulk products work out much cheaper than the small packets sold by the shops. As I mentioned before I do also get some food from the supermarket.
Do you use home delivery services?
Yes –fruit and veg boxes and milk and bread. I have always liked online shopping as I find it is easier to control how much I am spending. It is easy to see how much it will come to and then if I think I am spending too much I can take things off my order!
What do you find most difficult about being supermarket free?
Once I got going with it, I didn’t find it difficult at all. I found it is a bit like when you go to a new supermarket and you don’t know the layout and you have to work out where everything is. Once you know where everything is though it is a breeze.
As I said I do now buy some things in the supermarket because for some things the supermarket is the best place – mainly mainstream branded processed long life products. I keep these to a minimum but there are a few staples that we haven’t quite eliminated yet e.g tomato ketchup. I can get these items from corner shops, but they are often (not always) more expensive and sometimes lower quality. I try to do an online supermarket shop every so often so that I can avoid actually going into one!
What do you enjoy about it?
- I have found many of the shop keepers to be really chatty and friendly and have got to know them over a period of time.
- I found it is quicker easier and less stressful to make decisions in and navigate around smaller shops as there is much less choice than in a supermarket. You aren’t bombarded with special offers and don’t have to choose between 6 different brands of tikka massala sauce (for example)
- I find it is even easier with a seasonal organic veg box that is delivered to my door. I don’t even have to choose what is in it – I’m just happy knowing it is seasonal and organic!
- I have found products that I wouldn’t be able to get in supermarket e.g. local foods fresh from the farm, unpackaged meat and cheese and non-standard vegetables e.g. purple cauliflowers.
- I have enjoyed discovering local areas, shops and farms I didn’t know about before.
- I also feel more a part of a community, especially with my egg group as everyone comes to my house to pick them up.
What’s your best advice for anyone wanting to go supermarket free?
- Go and have a look around your local area and find out where you can buy the foods and products you need and want.
- Be adventurous and give new brands and products a go. You may find that some of the brands you usually buy aren’t available locally but alternatives are.
- Do a few practise runs of shopping outside the supermarket before starting.
- Give yourself a start date and an end date to avoiding supermarkets. If you set yourself the challenge for a finite period of time it can be more motivating to stick to it as you know it isn’t forever. At the end of the challenge you can look back and decide what worked and what didn’t and what you want to do going forward.
Lastly please share one of your favourite supermarket free posts from your blog with us
I can’t decide which one I like best out of these two – one is when I bought cheese unpackaged for the first time and the other one was when I worked out I had saved myself loads of money on certain products by shopping locally!