Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The challenge has finished!

So here's the thing ......... the challenge has finished and unbelievably the year is up!  

At the beginning we had a few hiccups but I guess that was going to be inevitable as with anything new and yes on a few occasions frustrating but all in all it has actually proved to be an enjoyable experience and soon became a habit.

We found Keith and Anne at the village shop, Southview Stores to be extremely helpful from the start sourcing and stocking  things for us and if it hadn't been for this support whilst we got used to no supermarket shopping we may have had second thoughts. They also use local producers as much possible.

We found an abundance of locally grown or supplied fruit and veg in shops that normally we'd have passed by ........and mainly shared our custom between Copplestone Farm Shop, Zanadu in Torrington, Kellands in Bideford and Hallwood Veg in Okehampton.


 As well as from Hatherleigh Market

And we also had a good supply of fruit and veg from our garden

The thing I found I liked was being able to check over the fruit and veg which is mainly sold loose and its nice to be able to buy ripe fruit rather than pre packed home ripening fruit from the supermarket which either stays as hard as bullets or is bruised and goes off before it ripens. It is fresher and I've also found there is a far wider selection to be found  than in supermarkets and a lot of it is British.

What about price?

Well we've found in general that it is cheaper and certainly no more expensive than supermarkets and that includes Lidl! 

At the start of the challenge we made it clear that if we couldn't get something other than from a supermarket or it was needed for the business then we would step over the supermarket threshold. This wasn't an experiment in deprivation but to see if it was possible to shop locally and avoid supermarkets for a year. And yes I started with every confidence that we could. However there are three things that we have had to concede can only be found in  the supermarket and two things which on occasions we have been to buy there. 
Firstly creme fraiche seems to be the most the most elusive and although initially  the village shop got it in for us unfortunately no one else in the village bought it and we only needed one pot a week at the most so the rest went out of date so they stopped stocking it.

I mentioned in my previous post about the washing tablets and the dishwasher tablets. 

Now if you've been with us from the start you'll remember the saga of the unsalted butter at the village shop. Well this went the same way as the creme fraiche, no one else buying it. We had found it in Landsdowne Dairy in Bude early on and when the Farmers Market started in April, Chris was able to buy it weekly whilst he was there until the end of August. After that if we had errands to run at Hatherleigh we bought it at The Cheese Pantry but for the last few weeks we have had to buy it in Waitrose. 

The other thing is my once a week need for oily fish and salmon is the good old standby. Again during the summer it was easy to get from the market or the fishmongers in Bude. Even mackerel seemed to elude the fisherman for weeks too so sometimes the salmon has had to come from Waitrose.

Other than when we came back from holiday as mentioned in the last post there was one other occasion when we had to pop into Waitrose to buy shampoo, tissues, and soap because we found Lloyds pharmacy was closed for refurbishment. Things we had run out of and needed that day.

Now down to money ........ 

We initially decided we should have a budget of £50 a week or £200 a month but then exceeded it so went up to £240 which was then too much. What we also hadn't taken into account is that some months have five weeks or that larger purchases like dishwasher tablets and washing tablets always seem to be needed at the same time. In the end we decided to give up on a budget and see what happened at the end.

So time to add up the receipts! 

Total £1866.86

Then there are the things we buy from fellow traders at markets which I haven't receipts for but is roughly £250

We also bought some pork and goat for the freezer from a friend £120

This is the first year we haven't reared our own Christmas dinner, made the pudding or cake but bought from friends instead plus smoked salmon and a few nibbles  £80

And of course the the few purchases from Waitrose £77.82

Total spend £2394.68

We used cash for all the purchases and withdrew £2400 over the year

Total left £6.18

So for those of you who can do maths there's an 86p overspend!!!!

The question is have we saved money?

The answer is a most definite yes! 

At a conservative estimate looking at our credit card bills and not taking alcohol into account (as discussed at the start of the challenge) we were spending around £75 a week in Waitrose which adds up to £3900 a year. This also didn't take into account the extra £250 or so spend at markets and any extras. So we appear to have saved £1750 on this reckoning!

Was it worth it?

Oh most definately yes!

It was hard to start with until we got used to it and we have had to make lists and plan what we need bearing in mind where we are going to be shopping. Also when its pouring with rain and howling a gale its not much fun walking through a town but its been a joy to talk to shop keepers/assistants and other shoppers, also not to have to queue behind grumpy shoppers with laden trollies or have people behind you huff because they're in a hurry!

Will we continue with it?

Again definitely yes!

Not only have we saved money, we've also only bought what we've needed, so no food mountain in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. The logistics of it has involved planning more, making lists and not going to the same towns week in and week out. It has also cost us to park in some places but by trying to combine it with some other reason to be going there it hasn't mattered,
and funnily enough it is quicker than pushing a trolley around the supermarket. We are of course so lucky to have the village shop too.

I would recommend it to anyone thinking of giving it a go. Its not for everyone in this busy world but even if you just buy a few things every week from your village shop or local green grocer you'll be supporting local! 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Ten months on ........

I can't believe that its six months since I last posted on this blog. I hadn't planned to be so neglectful but various events conspired against me and consequently time has marched on and its now November!

 I'm sure that due to my silence you decided months ago that we had given up on supporting local and gone back to supermarket shopping ...................

So what's happened since April?

We've continued to buy from the village shop all the regular items that were on our list before.

 We were able to buy unsalted butter from Landsdowne Dairy in Bude until the Farmers Market finished for the season and we had no need to go to Bude. Luckily we found it in the Cheese Pantry in Hatherleigh, so we're sorted for the winter. However crème fraiche has proved to be more difficult and we've had to buy it in a supermarket.

All our fruit and veg has come from green grocers, farm shops or markets and a small amount from our garden.
Back in the spring we did have to buy a bag of frozen cauliflower from Waitrose as none of the green grocers or Waitrose for that matter had any fresh ones (due to the weather we later found out) and Chris needed it for the curry he was cooking that night.

We were buying dishwasher tablets from the village shop until the dishwasher stopped dispensing them properly so have resorted to buying liquid capsules from Waitrose along with Persil washing capsules due to my sensitive skin. The only other occasion we have had to resort to Waitrose was on our way back from Gatwick after our holiday at 7pm when we needed a few bits such as milk and something for supper.

Apart from this it has become second nature to do our shopping in independent local shops and we're definitely saving money too. We have found that £200 is lasting us five weeks.

It's strange to think that in six weeks time we will have come to the end of this challenge!!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Copplestone Farm Shop

Once a month I have to go to a farm between Crediton and Tiverton. On my way I pass two farm shops. One of these is Copplestone Farm Shop, located on a main road and with a large carpark, so no excuses really for not popping in............ I've only been in once before - last summer.

Well one month I fly past in the afternoon and am always running late so can't stop off. Sounds like an excuse? Yes, you're right, it is! I should leave earlier!

This month it was a morning trip So on my way back I paid it a visit.

As I was waiting to turn in I saw the sign advertising English yellow tomatoes and Jersey Royal potatoes ........... I'd made the right decision.

Before I'd even got in the door I was clutching yellow tomatoes, spring cabbage and cauliflower.
Inside I picked up a basket and soon filled it with purple sprouting broccoli, celariac, Jersey royal potatoes and lots more ....... see for yourself!

It was so good to be able to touch and feel everything to make sure it was fresh and ripe.

Also there are blackboards up inside the shop with everything priced and smaller tickets for the outside displays. Also all the English produce is flagged up.

And of course I had a lovely chat with Mrs. CFS.

Now for those of you taking note .............. I'm sure you'll point out that I've just bought a lot of fruit and veg for £17.21 on this months budget ...........................yes you're right...........

However it was  too good an opportunity to miss, as tomorrow Chris is at a market and I've got errands in Holsworthy. Also I want decent fruit and veg for a change!

Soooooooooooooooo I'm bending the rules and this is actually going to come out of next months budget. (its only a day after all!)

Incidentally this last month we have spent £234.88 out of our new £240 budget!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


So the last you heard we were going to give the new fruit and veg supplier at Ye Olde Village Shoppe another chance.

On Friday I went to collect my order from the shop and discovered that they had sold my melon. How this could happen I don't know as my order comes in a separate box with my name on it, but it did.

Anyway I'll give the shop assistant, who lives in the village her due as she popped home and came back with a melon! Of course it was a from a supermarket but I have to accept that it was a damage limitation exercise and I wanted a melon! (and I guess if I hadn't turned up when I had, I would be non the wiser).

How was this weeks produce then???

One very manky onion and six seriously bruised kiwi fruit with inedible cores. (that's a new one on me)

On Saturday we were at the fabulous Ruby Country Market and bought  some lovely purple sprouting broccoli and a huge cauliflower from Hallwood Veg  They have a shop in Okehampton but unfortunately we rarely have the need to go in that direction.

Yesterday I was in Holsworthy for a haircut so popped into Mr. Dynamic for gram flour and turmeric ...... oh yes, did I tell you that last week when I went in for yeast (the very yeast that he ordered in for me at the start ) had sold out and he hadn't noticed! aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
So back to yesterday, I then went to the fruit and veg shop ......... where there are no prices displayed and always strange people congregating in it, for a melon.

'Can I help you?'

'Yes have you any melons?'

'They're very expensive and not ripe'

'What is very expensive?'

He didn't reply but got a melon out from under a cloth and fondled it before declaring 'its not ripe' and covered it up again.

Now this isn't the first time he's told me something is expensive ........... a while back I picked up some leeks from his outdoor display, walked the gauntlet of strange men commenting on the size of the leeks, to the till for him to tell me that they were very expensive.
Well £2.55 was a bargain as far as I was concerned.

Back to yesterday ....... I then homed in on the kiwi fruit .......

'you need to pick the ones on the left, the others aren't very good'

Now I know why we gave up using this shop 17 years ago when we moved here...................

How can you run a business like that?

.....................and please let me decide what is expensive!

So I now need to work on where to get our fruit and veg this week ..............

Where's Baldrick when you need a cunning plan???

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Seriously not impressed .....

What's the latest in parish news I hear you ask?

Well, the village shop have changed fruit and veg suppliers.

Their reason? (not necessarily in this order)  daily delivery, fresher, cheaper and some items pre packed compared to their previous supplier. Can't argue with that.

We've been very happy with our fruit and veg order via the village shop since we started this challenge and apart from a couple of things being left off the order and a very manky garlic during the three months we've been doing it we haven't any complaints and as I've mentioned before we've liked the freshness and variety of it.

Fan fare new supplier ....................

So far we've had three orders and to be honest I'm not impressed......

On the first one the beansprouts were missing and the first red onion I picked up to cook with was completely rotten and mouldy .......  you didn't need to peel it to find out.

.................... and the white onions ........

Well, I'll ask you. If you ordered a kilo of white onions, what would you expect?

Yes, like me small to medium.

Nope ........ four huge buggers at 250g each. That's all well and good if you're a catering establishment but not for two of us despite our love of cooking. Yes we cut them in half and wrapped in cling film but...............

My kiwi fruit felt soft in places but not overall and when peeled were actually bruised not ripe.

The pears which I ordered as NOT conference pears were delivered as conference pears ...... ok it may have been lost in translation. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

The clementines were fabulous though, the best we've had all season.

Next order ...........

Another manky red onion......

Four large white onions = 1kg

Pak choi ... two of which had bolted and I'm surprised hadn't been composted and two of a different variety which were very fresh.

1 kg tomatoes ....... they were soft, sqidgy and battered. Trying to find good ones to serve for lunch on a cheese making course two days later was seriously difficult as although I didn't count them ... (there must have been about sixteen) nine were bad. (Chris and I ate the bad ones after I cut the mouldy tops off )

Fabulous grapes and clementines though.

So to todays delivery ......

This evenings meal was vegetable stir fry ....... well it was until pak choi or beansprouts in the box.

One of the clementines was completely rotten and the NOT conference pears were conference pears.

We did get 1 kg of replacement tomatoes.

Now, Keith is very happy with his deliveries from Edds and looking at the fruit and veg he has on display I have to agree it looks lovely and fresh, however comparing what we've been sent by Edds it looks like we're getting completely different stock....... the second rate stuff.

Against our better judgement we are giving them one more chance ........ if Edds leave stuff off or send us rubbish next week we're out.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

We've completed twelve weeks!

Well its a month since I last wrote about our challenge and I hadn't intended to be neglectful of the blog even though I ended the last post with 'I'll let you know on the 27th March' .............. I thought I'd have posted something but I don't know where the time has gone!

I have had to go into Waitrose this month but only to buy milk and a couple of things for the cheese making courses. (allowed in the rules) The only other thing I have to confess to buying was some flowers for a friends Birthday. We were going to Bude two weeks ago to do our shopping and I'd planned to get the flowers from the florist there, however there was thick fog and a fatal accident so we didn't get any further than Holsworthy. As they were a present and also not paid for from the housekeeping money I think it was allowed.

It now feels quite normal, shopping in the village and at the other independent shops and not popping into Waitrose. Its a lot quicker too!

I also think that we are eating a far more varied diet than before. When I order the fruit and veg I have no idea how much things are or whether they are available. By trying to stick to fairly seasonal stuff it generally is! If I was in Waitrose and thought that something in the fruit and veg section was overpriced I wouldn't buy it. By ordering blind as it were I have no choice over price but to me that's an advantage as I'm still able to have my 8-9 portions a day with a good selection.

So how did we do with our £200 this month?

Well, we spent £218.61

You can tell that the food mountain has gone down ........ in fact almost everything is now in date in the cupboard!

As we had no idea what budget to set when we started this challenge and rather plucked £50 per week out of the air, Chris has suggested we up it to £60 per week and see how we do with £240 for the next four weeks.....................................

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Eight weeks down the line ................

I was having a bit of a spring clean and tidy up this week ......... only because I was trying to avoid doing the accounts and vat return. In one massive pile on a shelf was my credit card bills going back .... erm several years, (yes I'm a slovern!!!)

I couldn't do a proper comparison as to our spending in Waitrose because clearly some weeks Chris paid for the shopping, however I saw that not only was there the weekly shop bill but also quite a few mid week ones ....... I'd forgotten about these, you know the 'I'll just pop in for some milk' type ones?

At £25, £34, £14  just to mention a few figures I clearly bought more than milk!

One monthly bill was for £588 ...... quite shocking!
In other bills no week was below £70 and the majority were over £100. As I mentioned at the start of this challenge wine and beer was included in our supermarket shopping bill so this explains some of it, although I also saw that we'd had quite alot of wine delivered direct.

Its amazing how much we've cut down on our alcohol consumption since January, now that we can't just go and fill a trolley ................

Today is the end of week eight .... on Friday as you know we spent £46.78 and then on Tuesday we had a top up fruit and veg order of £5.26. Along with loo rolls, milk and teabags it bought the weekly total to £59.88.

In eight weeks we have spent £398.84 and all of it locally!

At the start we were perhaps a bit naive thinking that £50 a week was a suitable budget. As we have found some weeks the spend is higher than others due to the outlay for washing powder etc. and although I then divided the price out over two months (the time it would last) it all just gets rather confusing, therefore we have concluded that working with the months budget of £200 may be easier ................... I'll let you know on 27th March!!!

What we also need to remember is that this challenge is for a year .......................

Friday, 21 February 2014


Fabulous colours in this weeks shopping

We had to go into Waitrose again today to buy milk for tomorrows cheese making workshop and I have to say like last week I didn't have any urge to wander around the store. I went straight to the milk section, picked up what I needed, and left (via the checkout of course). I'm not sure whether I should have an urge .... is it natural after only seven weeks not to want to look at supermarket stuff? Discuss!!
I popped into see Mr. Dynamic for the Doves yeast and cardamoms ........ as I marched into the shop I immediately spotted the yeast. Brilliant! and at £1.09 seemed to be competitive. I asked for the cardamoms. Aaaahhhhh slight problem he hadn't ordered them as he didn't have enough money this week as it had been his worst week ever especially as the Wednesday market didn't happen due to the wind. Ok so the weather is playing a part in poor sales for a lot of traders .... we've found this out too but perleeeeese ................

In a previous life I used to be a manager in the retail sector for various people who had cash flow problems (yes I should have learnt the first time around) so I understand about ordering or not and how you can't please all of the people all of the time but ...................

I also wonder whether Mr. Dynamic is struggling because most of Holsworthy consists of charity shops and hairdressers as well as Waitrose stocking most of what he does. I have only really ever shopped at his gaff for herbs and spices which are so much cheaper than the pre-packed supermarket ones and for chickpea and buckwheat flour. I'm no doubt as guilty as everyone else for not supporting him except in an hour of need, so is it now all a little too late??? When Tesco arrives will it be curtains for him?

The only other food purchase in Holsworthy was frozen peas from Mole Valley Farmers for £1.91 (with our discount - all 4p of it) .... discount you ask??? Yes its a farmers co-operative and we have shares! They didn't have frozen green beans though.

Back to South View stores in sunny Shebbear for our fabulous coloured fruit and veg box order and our usual staples. I know I mentioned it before but I can't get over how beautiful it all looks.
The colours are so vibrant and there isn't all the bloody awful packaging that you get with the supermarket stuff. I also need to show you the amazingly large bunch of flat leaf parsley ..........

The last time I bought a bunch that size was from a continental shop in Cambridge 18 years ago!!
Soooooooooooo with the three tins of dog meat and frozen green beans and peas not in the picture the Shebshop Global bill was £39.92. With the peas and yeast spend of £3 plus before I forget the addition of the washing budget of £3.86, we are up to £46.78.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

We need to meal plan!

Hands up who thought we'd get through everything we bought last Friday!

Yes, I've got my hand up too!!

If I told you that we were away running workshops on Saturday and Tuesday and at a market on Sunday then you may want to put your hand down!

I actually hadn't taken these abscences into account when I placed the fruit and veg order, and only had a vague notion of what meals we'd eat.
We didn't need a fruit and veg order on Tuesday and the only additions were milk, tin tomatoes, and an onion all for £1.45

Adding £3.86 for the weekly washing tablets means that we spent £50.06

We really need to be more disciplined and plan our meals instead of having a vague idea, however its hard to get out of my 'Ready Steady Cook' method i.e. Whats in the fridge/cupboard?
Ta dah! here's supper sort of thing!

In my defence it is also difficult to plan when we don't know quite what will be on the menu at workshops and markets! Will we need a full meal or just a snack back at home?

Alright I'm making excuses!!!

At lunchtime today Chris and I discussed what the fruit and veg order should be but didn't do more than plan a stir fry tomorrow to use up the last of this weeks pak choi and agree that he'll make curries out of his Rick Stein's India book for a couple of meals. Ok so thats three down and we are 'workshopping' again on Saturday so only three more to sort out .....................................

Friday, 14 February 2014

Today we went into Waitrose

Today we went into Waitrose ............
Ha! Thought that would get your attention .........
However, before you start saying 'it didn't take you long to give in', I have to clarify that it was for business purposes only!!
Yes as stated in the 'rules' we are allowed to buy the non homogenised milk from there for cheese making workshops, and tomorrow we have a workshop!
How did it feel?
Well I had no desire to start looking around and went straight to the milk section, picked up what I needed, nipped to the kitchen roll section (I need smaller rolls for workshops - take my word for it) and then queued up to pay.
Oh I'd forgotten about queueing and people faffing!
Then we drove back to the grand metropolis of Shebbear and purchased this weeks goodies which you can see in the photo below! Missing are the three tins of dogmeat which were left in the car and you'll see miso, coriander seed and ground coriander which came from Mr. Dynamic in Holsworthy. He was quite animated again today so I think I shall have to rename him............... Mr. I can order that for you!
Yup cardamoms and Doves yeast were on my list but not in stock!

So at ShebShop Global we collected our fabulous looking fruit and veg order and the usual staples. The Twinings 100 Earl Grey teabags were in and at £5.35, not a bad price ........ ssshhhhhh don't tell Keith I said that!

I asked Keith whether he would be giving me a loyalty card as I'd been spending so much over the last few weeks ............................. the look said it all and his reply 'I've been serving peole for thirteen years and I don't have a loyalty card'

I take it thats a no then!

Todays spend was £44.75

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Are we being over optimistic with our £50 budget?

When we couldn't get crème fraiche a couple of weeks ago for the mushroom stroganoff I had to change the menu .................. well with pak choi, ginger, garlic, and carrots along with my need for brown rice, stir fry seemed the obvious answer. In the cupboard there's a selection of soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar and sesame oil so a good slosh of each makes an amazing vegetable stir fry.
This has now become a twice a week meal....................
Who needs mushroom stroganoff anyway?

Talking about pak choi and carrots ...............we've noticed the pak choi seems to be larger and have a stronger flavour and stay far crunchier in a stir fry and the carrots are a lot smaller than the horse size ones we bought in Waitrose. Different varieties? Probably! Different growers? Undoubtably! Fresher? Definately!

Saturday was Bideford Farmers Market and in between kite surfing up and down Jubilee Sq. on the end of a gazebo (it was a tad windy!)
I purchased a few things in the local shops - milk 80p and purple sprouting broccoli £1.04 I asked about hispi/pointy/spring cabbage as we couldn't get it this week on our veg order. The guy said that the weather had spoilt them so they didn't buy them. Explains that one then!
Smoked streaky bacon from the butcher for celariac soup and Sunday brunch toasted bacon sandwich was £1.57.

On Tuesday when I filled up with petrol in Holsworthy Texaco I bought 50 Twinings teabags £2.85 and then after working near Bude popped into Lansdowne Dairy for butter £1.69

Wednesdays only purchase was milk for 50p

Total this week £50.72

We are now wondering whether perhaps we were rather optimistic setting our budget at £50 per week.
Should we have put it at £75 which was the average we spent in Waitrose?
Or should we have a budget at all? ........ there was never a budget before we just whipped out a credit card!
Now its all cash!

We're not doing this to skimp on things , just to see if we can shop local, support local and do it without supermarkets. As well as seeing if its more or less expensive and if there is a difference in quality, taste and availability.

The jury is out!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Week six

In case you can't identify all the fruit and veg in the box which we picked up from South View Stores, Shebbear today -  here's the list ....... the crossing out is the spring cabbage which wasn't available!Total £23

Whilst there we also purchased three tins dog meat, the first in two weeks as the lucky girls have had giblets and lamb breast to eat from the freezer mountain!

Greek yogurt, red lentils, brown rice, bread flour, three tins chopped tomatoes (still on offer) and firelighters. Final total £34.43

So where's the unsalted butter I hear you ask? Surely you've nearly run out................

Oh yes!
It was on the list but quelle surprise ........ none to be found in Ye Olde Village Shoppe chiller.

After giving Keith the third degree, it would seem that there are others in the village that like unsalted butter and he has sold out. We had a discussion about the price of the unsalted butter that he gets and the one I've seen in Lansdown Dairy which is from a Cornish dairy and far cheaper ........ he's going to mention it to the butter salesman when he's next in. Anyway I've asked him not to order any more in on our account!
Eeking out required then until Tuesday when I'm working near Bude and can pop into Lansdown Dairy for some.

More news for you ..................

................... prior to our trip to the village we popped into Holsworthy to do a few bits and bobs including a visit to Mr. Dynamic ........ blimey has he read my blog or has someone told him about it?
He was positively alive and asked if I'd managed to get asafoetida (yes thank you via mail order)  and if there was anything we wanted then to ask him and it would probably take about a week to get!
Ok so today it was just chickpeas and chickpea flour (£3.08) but as you gather I love a challenge and so I will think of something to put him to the test!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

We almost fell at the first hurdle!

Thursdays seem to come around rather quickly since we started this challenge.
Is that a good thing? I'm not sure but it does mean I get to practise my maths!!

On Saturday our running total for week five was £47.26.

We had a small order for clementines, kiwi fruit, cauliflower and garlic on Tuesday which came to £4.93.
Yesterday we bought milk - 92p and then today we ran out of teabags. Not a problem as we knew Keith at the village shop had ordered them and they were due in this morning. Oh guess what? The supplier sent organic ones again. We aren't buying them, not only do they taste different to the normal ones but they are far too expensive! Well we can't wait a week to see if the normal ones come in.

What to do?

At this point Chris had a sense of humour bypass and decided that as he needed diesel he'd go and get it there and then and then drive to Waitrose for said teabags.

Oh no, only five weeks in and we were falling at the first hurdle, a supermarket visit was imminent ...............

I was making cheese and had to concentrate on the task in hand so luckly I didn't have the chance to dwell on it.

On his return, he was clutching 50 Twinings Earl Grey teabags, much to my surprise as I thought he'd buy a box of 200 .......... if we were going to break the rules then at least we may as well make the most of it!

He returned with glad tidings, the garage had saved the day - no I wouldn't have expected to buy them with my fuel either..................... and they are the cheapest so far. Just £2.85

This weeks total is £55.96

£5.96 over but if you bear in mind that the washing tablets, loo rolls and soap were on the list I think we've done alright.

Several people have asked and for those of you wondering, yes there are only two of us and yes we do eat all the fruit and veg in a week (give or take a couple of kiwi fruit) Tonight all that is left in the salad drawer in the fridge is a piece of root ginger and a slice of lemon (in case an emergency G&T is required!!) The fruit bowl has a banana, two clementines and four kiwi fruit in it. Once I've had my breakfast tomorrow there will be just two kiwi fruit left.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

I've had to fiddle the books!

Extra stuff this week

It was just a quick trip to Mole Valley farmers on our way back from Bude as Chris wanted coal and I thought that they were probably the best place for larger packs of dishwasher tablets and washing powder tablets!

I assumed that this was the best place to get them from but looking at the price I'm not so sure - £30.89 for the two packs. It was only when we got home that Chris pointed out that they were a professional range!! Note to self  - shop around before we run out again.

When setting the weekly budget at the start of this challenge I hadn't really considered that there would be purchases like this so maybe £50 a week isn't that realistic as it means that a large chunk of our weeks budget has gone on them alone. Bearing in mind that they will both last us about two months I think I need to fiddle the books...................

By my maths (which isn't my strong point) it works out at £3.86 a week so this is what will come out of this weeks budget and for the next eight weeks!

Frozen peas at £1.95 was my other purchase.

Next stop South View Stores, Shebbear ...................

Clearly my challenge for the shopkeeper was too easy - he had got the shelves stocked with split red lentils, brown rice and tahini paste ......... take note Mr. Dynamic in Holsworthy!

Along with these items we relieved the shop of firelighters, three tins tomatoes, ground coffee, sunflower oil and two pints of milk total £13.51

The fruit and veg order consisted of 2 lemons, cauliflower, celeriac, 1kg carrots, 4 each of red and white onions, pointed cabbage, 1kg clementines 6 kiwi fruit, 4 cox apples and 4 bananas total £10.72

I've worked my way through all the out of date  bread flour in my food mountain except for some rye flour so this morning 1.5kg bread flour was purchased for £2.15. Well in date and without weevils!!
It has now become two loaves of bread!

Total spend so far this week £47.26

Friday, 31 January 2014

Yay ...... we got salmon in Bude!!

Ok so its not a lovely photo but its four pieces of fresh salmon!

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssss we found oily fish today!

As usual I'm jumping ahead though.................

After my post yesterday, lots of you lovely readers suggested where I could get oily fish. One of them was the fish shop in Winkleigh open on a Friday. How fantastic .... I had to go to the next village Dolton for the day job so could kill two birds with one stone as it were.

However as you know my life is never simple and due to various factors which included an EHO inspection I didn't get there!

So back to plan A....................

We popped into Bude in a howling gale and horizontal rain and I started to wish that I'd parked in Waitrose, Holsworthy and made a dash for it!

Ha ha ... only kidding! (maybe)

After doing bank type things, first stop was Lily May's shellfish shop ....... although there wasn't much fish due to this diabolical weather there was .... drum roll please ..... salmon!!!! Yay!

'Four slices please Mrs. Fishmonger'

'That's £8.90 please'

Next stop Lansdown Dairy where we purchased loo rolls £1.99 for four and 50 Twinings earl grey teabags £2,99. They also have Trewithen Dairy unsalted butter for £1.69, so once we've finished the village shop butter we'll try this one!

Boots for pears soap £1.19

And then North Coast Wines ..............We spent our pocket money on gin, wine and beer!

We then headed back to Holsworthy ..........

Due to broadband problems tonight consider this part one. I'll post the rest of todays shopping as part two tomorrow!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

We've completed the first month of the challenge!

On Tuesday our fruit and veg order consisted of 1kg clementines, 6 kiwi fruit, 300g black grapes, 500g carrots, garlic and a huge bit of ginger. Total £6.70.
We also finally paid for the butter ........ an eye watering £4.30!
Oh, and the refund for the non delivery of watercress on Friday was £1.56

Keith asked me for his next challenge so tahini paste, split red lentils and long grain brown rice is his mission! Incidently Mr Dynamic in Holsworthy still hadn't replenished the shelves with red lentils or brown rice on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday we were in need of more teabags and milk. Total £5.10

So this week we spent £51.59
For those of you doing the maths and thinking I'm 80p out .... I don't think I mentioned that I bought milk for 80p on Saturday in Bideford!

The over spend is down to having to pay for the two packs of butter which were on tick (whilst Keith sorted out the price!) and in theory would have been paid for out of week three's budget. I'm also not sure why Chris wanted two packs .... we're still eating the first one!

Sooooooooooo we've now completed our first month of no supermarket shopping.

What have we learnt?

If you don't ask you don't get ......... so far everything I've wanted, Keith and Anne at Ye Olde Village Shoppe have sourced for me. Ok, some of it has been eye wateringly pricey but we knew at the out set that the Twinings teabags and the unsalted butter would be the expensive items.

The fruit and veg has been incredibly fresh and more flavoursome than the supermarket and also ripe. ........ no leaving kiwi fruit like bullets in the fruit bowl under bananas hoping they're soften!
There has also been more choice.

Health food shops can be very frustrating!

That making a shopping list for the weeks items means we don't buy more than we need.

Despite living close to the sea, there is a lack of fish available. Since the bastard cancer we have eaten oily fish, in particular salmon at least twice a week. This month we have eaten it once as it was part of the food mountain in the freezer. We need to find some soon, even if its an online order, I need oily fish!

Shopping like this isn't so time consuming.

Are we going to continue?


Facts and figures......................

The budget was £200.
Total spend £164.29
Saving £35.71

Pre supporting local there was no budget and our average weekly bill in Waitrose was £75
so in theory we would have spent around £300. Then there would have been the extras like milk or things that we'd forgotten and had to buy elsewhere.

Its early days but we're pleased with how our challenge is going!

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Rules

Following my post about the split red lentil saga, I had a lot of offers from readers, friends and neighbours to give me some from their cupboards, or to buy and send me some. Others suggested I order them online. I really appreciate these offers but its not in the rules.

The rules?

Yup, we made some rules when the supporting local decision was made.
So here they are....................

To avoid shopping in all supermarkets for 2014 unless:-
a) It is something that we absolutely can't get elsewhere and definitely need.
We're thinking on the lines of any of the food I now include in my diet to keep the bastard cancer at bay!
b) Its for the business and we need to comply with the EHO requirements and can't get it elsewhere.
c) Non homogenised milk for cheese making courses.

Online ordering:-
Only order things online that we would have had to order in the past because they weren't available in the supermarket or elsewhere. e.g green mango powder or pomegranate molasses!
Also included in this is wine ........ Chris is a member of the Wine Society and so he will continue to order from them on occasions!
If something is out of stock in the independent shops, we must wait for it. Ordering online isn't allowed.

Bulk buying:-
I read how someone who also gave up supermarkets a while back, paid £30 to join a cooperative and then bulk bought dried goods such as rice and pasta and had six months worth in the cupboard under the stairs!
We will not bulk buy as this isn't our idea of supporting local.

Borrowing from the neighbours:-
We are still allowed to pop over to the neighbours and borrow something we have run out of  e.g  a lemon. If they borrow from us we can accept the replacement even if its from a supermarket.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

All I want is split red lentils!

Today we had the first Bideford Farmers Market of 2014 and so a great opportunity to pop into the town and pick up the bits we couldn't get yesterday .........................

I don't think I mentioned that crème fraiche had been added to the list so that we can have stroganoff with the mushrooms from yesterdays fruit and veg order!

Well, clearly crème fraiche isn't in demand ........ none to be found. I even went into the co-op, just to see if they had it out of interest ( no to shopping in supermarket rules mean I can look but not buy!!) Nope they didn't have it. So presumably if you want it in Bideford, you've got to go to Morrisons or Asda.

May have to rethink mushroom stroganoff!!

The fruit and veg shop was displaying lovely looking purple sprouting broccoli and sprout tops ....... I couldn't resist so parted with £1.90.

Next stop the health food shop for split red lentils ...........................I can't see them so ask. - please all I want is some red lentils. At least the lady in this shop is alive ...... yes she's got them. She stands on a stall, and rummages on the shelf. No they seem to have sold out. 'They'll be in on Wednesday or Thursday'. She offers me green lentils or puy lentils. I want to scream ....... deja vous from yesterday and Mr. Dynamic. I think I'm in a bad dream.
'There must be a run on them in North Devon' I say, 'I couldn't get them in Holsworthy either'.
'Perhaps there's been something on the TV' she said 'We can't take that sort of thing into account'
Yeah right ...................... you didn't have them when I came in on 10th January after the dentist. I wanted to say but just smiled and left.


All I want is split red lentils.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Starting week 4

Todays shopping

This morning we popped into Holsworthy for a few things from Mole Valley Farmers and also a 1kg bag of green beans for £1.95.

After parking in Waitrose carpark (with no urge to go into the store!) we walked up to the health food shop in the square, Natures Way. I always have the urge to chuck a grenade into the shop to liven things up as the couple in there are less than dynamic. Today was no exception!!
Long grain brown rice, split red lentils, asafoetida, and amchur - green mango powder were on the list. Although they have a wide range of herbs and spices in jars which they weigh out for you, I wasn't too optimistic about the latter two items!

I picked up the last bag of brown rice, couldn't see the red lentils so had to ask Mr Dynamic. No he hadn't any, he must order some as it takes two days for things to come in. Actually you didn't have any last week either and no I don't want green lentils or puy lentils instead, I have  a cupboard of out of date ones thanks! Asafoetida? No he needed to order some and no he hadn't heard of mango powder. To be fair its more an Asian store than rural health food shop item so I'll let him off.
As I paid for the rice I saw it was from Pakistan  and thought how strange as the pack last week was from Italy and I was sure that last week it was £1.46 and this was £1.88. The answer was on the label ...... it was brown basmati rice. As Mr. Dynamic was giving me my change I told him that I'd picked up the wrong rice and wanted long grain brown. No he hadn't got any. He needed to sort his rices out ..............................

There will definitely be a grenade next week if he hasn't done his ordering!!!!

Next stop the village shop.
The fruit and veg order comprised of  6 kiwi fruit, 1 kg clemantines, 350g grapes, 4 red onions, 4 white onions, radicchio, celeriac, 2kg potatoes, 2 courgettes, 250g mushrooms, 4 pak choi, bunch parsley. Purple sprouting broccoli wasn't available and the watercress was missing (we only discovered this when we got home so are due a credit but not sure how much) total £18.98
The expensive teabags, ground coffee, greek yogurt, carrots and firelighters were also purchased for £11.54.
The butter is still on tick!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

That was week three then!!!

On Saturday we had to take Chris laptop to be fixed in Great Torrington. A lovely little town with a good mix of independent shops. It was lashing it down with rain and blowing a gale so not really conducive with wandering. We did however pop into the butchers and pick up 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon for £1.12 to make celeriac and bacon soup. Then dashed across the road to Zanadu, the greengrocers, who are also supplying us with our weekly fruit and veg via our village shop.
Guess what? They sell aduki beans! So red dragon pie was back on the menu!
Chris also wanted leek, potato and sweetcorn soup this week so he chose the largest leek in the world for it. We also got a pack of coriander for the curry we haven't had. Total £3.50

This dry January lark is making us drink far too much tea .......... by Monday we had to have another box of the £4.60 organic Earl Grey and two pints of milk. Still I suppose they do last longer than a bottle of wine in this house!!

Tuesday saw us back at South View stores collecting our latest fruit and veg order costing £10.27.
Oh and the butter is still on tick!

Sooooooooooooooooo this weeks total spend is £45.89

Friday, 17 January 2014

Todays purchases

Todays purchases
Where does the time go? I can't believe we are starting week three of our supporting local challenge!

Today we went into Mole Valley farmers for animal stuff and I found something on my food list - frozen peas ... 1kg for £1.95. Next stop was the health food shop for brown rice, ground cumin and cumin seeds, £2.51 No aduki beans though.
Then back to the village and South View Stores.

Today the fruit and veg order comprised of a large celariac, 2kg potatoes, 1kg carrots, 500g purple sprouting broccoli, 1kg clemantines, 6 russet apples, 6 kiwi fruit and 4 bananas. Sprout tops weren't available.
Also on the list was 3 tins dog meat, firelighters, 3 tins tomatoes (they're still three for £1.25) ground coffee and a pint of milk.

Total cost £21.02

You haven't mentioned the butter I hear you cry! Its in the photo!

Ah the butter ..... when we got there Keith said 'No Tim yet' (Tim being the postman who should be bringing butter!) We had passed his van on our way so decided to hang around and make polite converasation!!! Eventually he turned up with said package. As there was no invoice enclosed we have the butter but haven't paid for it yet!!

Week two

Yesterday was the end of week two ...... here's how we got on.

This week we had to venture out into the big wide world not once but twice!

On Monday the dentist in Bideford was our destination so whilst Chris was being tortured I popped into one of the greengrocers in town and picked up four bananas, a red pepper and a bunch of spring onions. I was also looking for aduki beans as we planned to have red dragon pie during the week, alas the only health food shop I found didn't have them. Annoying to say the least as the pepper was for the same dish.

On Tuesday I had a hospital appointment in Tiverton so afterwards we popped into the town and found some lovely looking purple sprouting broccoli in the pannier market and also bought three potatoes for the lentil shepherds pie which was the replacement meal for the red dragon!

On the way back we popped into the village shop and picked up our fruit and veg order. We also hoped to collect some unsalted butter and Twinings Earl grey tea bags which Keith had ordered for us. Neither was there. The butter was becoming a bit of a saga as we had asked for it on the first day of our supporting local challenge. It didn't arrive............ twice the delivery note said it was out of stock and then on the third delivery the supplier didn't send it. We were getting desperate ........

Its amazing how much butter you can eke out if you don't know when you'll have any more!!! However it finally got eaten yesterday.......................

The teabags were delivered to the shop yesterday. Just in time as we were down to our last six!
I had to pick myself up off the floor after the price came up at £4.60 for fifty. I then noticed they were organic ....... oh well!!

Apparently the butter was being sent next day delivery with Royal Mail ....................

I'm sure you're dying to know how much we spent this week.

Well a total of £34.43

Friday, 10 January 2014

Local produce

Today we went to Ye Olde Village Shoppe, well South View Stores to give it its proper name and collected our ordered fruit and veg and again it looked so lovely that I was loath to unpack it when we got home!! We also bought milk, ground coffee, three tins of dog food and fire lighters. The total shop came to £19.80.

Herbs from Guernsey

Coffee from Porlock

The milk is from a local dairy and although we didn't buy it today but on Wednesday, the greek yogurt is from a local farm. I was surprised but also delighted to find that the fresh parsley and coriander is from Guernsey and the ground coffee is from Porlock, so just over the border in Somerset.

As producers ourselves we want people to support us at markets and food festivals and we likewise support our fellow traders, its just that we've also had a Waitrose habit.
When we made the decision to support local I just assumed that we'd carry on buying at markets and also shop in the village, with the odd visit to the health food shop in town and other independents in places we may find ourselves. It never occured to me that there was so much local produce this close to home.

How blind I've been!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

End of week one!

Once the decision was made to give up supermarket shopping we then had to decide our budget.
Pretty straight forward you would think but when we looked at our weekly spending in Waitrose over the past few months and then the food mountain in the freezer and cupboard there was a debate.

Looking at the figures we also had to take into account that a good £40 was spent on wine and beer, and even on a good week we were forking out £75 on the rest of the shop.

We always have a dry January and so it wouldn't be until February when we had to think about booze again!!! After agreeing that we spend too much on alcohol anyway we decided that if we want to drink it won't come out of the housekeeping in future.

So we came up with a budget of £50 a week.

Its the end of week one ........... how did we do?

Not bad considering it was alien to us!

I did order too many sprout tops (although they will get eaten!), however we emptied (completely ate it all) the fruit bowl before yesterdays order arrived .... something that I can't remember happening before, possibly because a lot of the supermarket fruit has to ripen!

Total spent £32.48

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Kitchen roll and other matters!

After my first post where I mentioned that Kitchen roll and sea salt for the business would be the two things I would probably have to still buy in Waitrose, I got a few suggestion from you lovely people.
Blue paper was one ..... we have tried it before but unfortunately it has a habit of leaving blue bits on the cheese!!!
For the sea salt ... buy from the Cornish sea salt company!
Brilliant idea ......
However before I could get on the blower the 'fantastic shopkeeper', (his words not mine!!!) had made enquiries with his suppliers of both products and is able to get me the salt in 3kg bags when I need it and today he presented me with eight rolls of kitchen paper! Thank you Keith!
I shall now bore you with comparison facts ........
Its 3ply and has 70 sheets per roll, the Waitrose one is 2ply and 55 sheets per roll and as you can see in the photo above it is larger. Although it appears more expensive and I'm sure there is a mathamatical formula using the above information to work it out but as I haven't a maths qualification to my name I'll pass and just see how we get on with it!

In other news ..... the fruit bowl is full again!!
I like this idea of ordering fruit and veg twice a week and everything we've had so far has tasted really good, infact so good that Fridays clementines only lasted three days! The kiwi fruit are ripe and ready to eat so no waiting a week or so before they're ready!
If you haven't seen I've started another blog (yes I know I'm becoming a seriel blogger but hopefully not a bore!!) to run alongside this one. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Ye Olde Village Shoppe

Look at this!
Please indulge me whilst I tell a tale ................

On 14th November 2013 I was quoted in The North Devon Journal after our village of Shebbear was ranked in the top 20 places to bring up a family........

'There are fabulous views of the countryside. There is still a farming community here as well. We are lucky, we have a good shop and doctor's surgery. we have the college and the primary school, so there is a thriving community. We are well off for community facilities'

Oh bloody hell ......... I hadn't banked on my reception in the 'good' village shop that day when I popped in to see if my name was in lights (as it were!!!)

Oh no ... the shop keeper was less than impressed with my choice of adjective for the shop and kept reminding me of the error of my ways over the next few days!!!!
Joking aside Keith and Ann work really hard at running this well stocked shop.

Like most people we've just used it for the papers and the odd thing we've run out of .... oh, and of course booze ...........

'We're not drinking this week............'

Yeah right! ......  and by Wednesday we're desperate......

Thank god for Ye Olde Village Shoppe

If you take the time to look you'll find they use mostly local suppliers and have a wide range of goods.

Yup I've looked and noted incase I need anything I've forgotten whilst in Waitrose and in times of need sent Chris up there for it!

Fast forward to 2nd January 2014.

Chris was dispatched to Ye Olde Village Shoppe for milk, and mentioned that we were giving up supermarkets and were going to shop with them and with other independent traders.

He returned with glad tidings ....... everything we need and those things they don't stock we can order.

In the afternoon we went up with our list of fruit and veg we wished to order for delivery this morning and also picked up other things on the list ...........

I didn't photograph them but will list them now, however won't bore you over the coming year by itemising everything!

Dog food (oh how the girls love this crud when we've run out of the usual stuff)
Tinned tomatoes - 3 tins for £1.25
Large freezer bags
Cling film

The only thing I couldn't get that was on my list was greek yogurt and that was because delivery is Wednesday and we've had a couple of Bank Holidays in the way!!

Today we collected the fruit and veg ....... which include radicchio and sprout tops, both of which I wouldn't have got in Waitrose. It took me a while to take everything out of the box as it looked so beautiful and I didn't want to disturb it ..... no plastic packaging involved (Ok so the grapes were in plastic (its a H&S thing) ... don't split hairs!!)

So far we have spent £21.61

In Waitrose today we would have spent at least £50 .... and thats alot more than just a pot of greek yogurt!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

We've made a decision!

So, here's the thing.....................

Fridays are when we are usually to be found wandering around Waitrose filling a trolley, putting in things from the list and then adding stuff we really don't need that week or can't remember if we need or not.

Good! so that's the shopping sorted ........................

Actually no!

Most weekends we have at least one market where we are trading with other producers selling fantastic local food, and guess what?

Yes, we buy more food.............

None goes to waste I hasten to add ..... I always make meals from scratch, freeze leftovers and ignore use by dates so its rare that anything is binned, however I can't believe how much food we have in the cupboards and the freezer and how it keeps being added to.

For those of you who read my other blog will know how my eating habits have changed since the diagnosis and how I eat eight or nine portions of fruit and veg a day as well as having oily fish several times a week and rarely eat red meat, so the fridge and fruit bowl are always pretty full too, but need replenishing weekly as we certainly get through a huge amount of fruit and veg.

Anyway I'll get to the point in a minute!

We've made a decision ..........

Well, I've made a decision and Chris has agreed to it!!

We are going to give up supermarket shopping!

There!...... I've said it.

 Buying from local independent shops and from our fellow traders is the plan.

Sounds easy doesn't it?

I will just put my cards on the table and say that there are several things that we will still have to get from Waitrose, namely sea salt, kitchen roll, which we use vast quantities of for the business, and local shop stuff isn't absorbent enough,  and non homogenised milk for the cheese making classes. Other than these things for the business I'm confident that we can support local!