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.
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us unfortunately no one else in the village bought it and we only needed one pot a week at the most so the rest went out of date so they stopped stocking it.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!
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!