Putting my money where my mouth is - Why I'm giving up Tesco for July.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This is a little different from the challenges I normally set myself.

You may wonder why I would choose to ban myself from such all-under-one-roof convenience but I often grumble about the 'bloody supermarkets' when I see smaller shops close down through lack of trade. I've been known to wax lyrical about how communities should refuse to shop in a new store after they fought to stop it being built. As consumers we have an incredible amount of power - a shop, no matter how big it is, can't survive without customers.

However, in the past year I have purchased numerous non food items from Tesco when I could just as easily have gone to local shops. The contradiction here became to hard for me to ignore.

So, for the whole of July I intend to support the high street and use local shops where ever possible. I want to see if I can survive without Tesco.

Here is how I have been getting on so far...

Day 1
Whilst in B&Q, for reasons of a DIY nature, I picked up some dishwasher gubbins too. I realise that in doing this I am simply swapping one large store for another but bear with me, I started this with no plan in place so I am having to find my way one day at a time.

Day 2
Back at work. I should have been more organised but I'm so used to the convenience of having a Tesco within walking distance of work I didn't think to plan ahead. I'd intended to go to a local butcher, it's combined with a bakery (that had no sandwiches left despite it being just passed noon) and it also had no meat - not a sausage, as they say.

As a result I had to go to Tesco as no butcher would be open on my way home and I'd run out of time to go elsewhere. I spent £4.20 on two jars of Dolmeo in local shop instead of the £3.48 it would have cost me in Tesco. Today has been a bit of a hoo-ha.

Day 3
All I needed for supper tonight was some veg. My greenhouse offers a nice line in radishes and salad leaves but I wanted proper, hearty, green veg. I knew that there was a veg stall on the Square near to where I work, I found out that this is every Tuesday... between 9 and 10.15 am. Not helpful. So, I ventured to Woodbridge to go to the greengrocer there. Guess what? No broccoli or greens, I made do with frozen peas and beans that I had at home. Fail.

Day 4
Needed cat food, so I went to Seapets which is just around the corner from my office. Again, I see the irony that I am still using large, out-of-town stores. But I don't have a problem with these stores as such, what I have a problem with is my reliance on one store above all others. That said, my intention to support local stores remains intact.

Day 5
Back to Woodbridge to the greengrocer, baker, fish monger and I needed single cream so had to pop into Budgens too. This is a small store tucked unobtrusively into the town centre so I felt okay with shopping there. I needed white wine to cook with but I didn't have time to get to an off license so I substituted the wine for water - it tasted just as good!

Day 6
No shopping

Day 7
I visited The Egg Shed this morning, stocked up on eggs, milk, broccoli, bacon and, as OH was with me, a random pot of mustard. I also checked out a butcher and baker and the Saturday market in the town centre (where some friendly banter with a stall holder left me in the finest of moods). I had all the provisions I needed for the next few days.

Or so I thought.

When I returned home I discovered that we were having a BBQ for five friends. With two hours to go and a house to clean, OH went to Tesco.

I was disappointed to default back to Tesco so soon but we needed a number of different things and we wouldn't have been able to get everything from the limited number of smaller shops nearby in the time that we had.

I have found that living in a rural area has hindered this experiment a little. The local farm shop and the only general store both open at 9am and close at 5pm. I drive past at 8am and back again at 5.45pm during the week, so any shopping has to be in my lunch hour and near to work so planning is crucial!

Day 8
No shopping (eating BBQ leftovers and nursing a slight hangover)

Day 9
No shopping (more BBQ leftovers). This is unusual for me, I used to go to Tesco once a day, sometimes twice.

Day 10
I bought my lunch from the sandwich lady (a lovely lady in a van stuffed full of the nicest chicken baguettes known to man). It feels much nicer to support her than to trudge to Tesco for sandwiches everyday.

After 10 days I'm roughly £8 out of pocket. I have found some new places to shop and I feel good about it. Not only am I exploring my local area more, I'm supporting local businesses (which I hope to do more of as I discover more) and I've only been into Tesco twice.

As for the £8, I think I would have spent that on impulse buys in Tesco - I always used to pick up 'extras' every time I went in. Hands up who's gone in for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread and spent £70.00?

Day 11, 12, 13
No shopping.

Day 14
I explored a nearby town. I found a butcher, baker, reptile house, the most fabulous haberdashery, two wool shops... no green grocer though. So, for my veg I went to a farm shop on my way home - I'm slowly discovering more places like this locally - but they, quite rightly, only have seasonal veg. This is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, I cooked a roast dinner but had to forego the parsnips. Roast parsnips are the best.

Do you always head to Tesco or do you use local stores? I'm really interested to hear your thoughts on this.

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  1. I loved this post. And thanks for being honest =)
    I went through a phase of going in to Sainsburys every single day, and was a bit ashamed. I'd like to try and branch out to find my local farm shops and such =)

  2. A very good post! I love the idea of this! I am using Tescos less for things as I discovered an independent International supermarket round the corner from me does some good veg and other things- the only thing is the lack of organic veg, milk and cheese which I prefer where possible but I agree, it's important to support local businesses!

  3. You are my challenge/moral idol! x

  4. I shop online and buy from where is cheapest so every week I put my food shop into three websites, Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda and you would be surprised that very often Sainsburys is the cheaper option, I guess it just depends what you need that particular week. I have a small local co-op, the only shop near by and I am in there most days buying flowers or fresh bread and anything else I run out of mid week.

  5. This is a really ood idea, good luck with it! I let Tesco deliver to me once a week, which is really hassle free. We buy meat from the local butchers but of course, only on a Saturday and fresh fish from Morrisons fish counter. To be honest, I don't think I could manage to avoid supermarkets for a month; I plan everything for the week and buy it in one hit to save trying to source stuff on a daily basis.
    Its a great challenge though, good luck x

  6. I tend to shop Tesco online and my local tesco just because I never have any time. Perhaps I should give this a go though. We have so many amazing farm shops, farmers markets and little shops with fantastic food around us, unfortunately it does work out a bit more expensive. I have always fancied trying one of those veg box schemes.

  7. Really interesting and honest post. I would love to give up supermarkets and shop locally, but just like you I would end up out of pocket (petrol too) and with no time to trek about for diffent items. The key is balance, I will try to support my local bakery and green grocer more :)

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    I'm your newest follower! would love for you to check mine out and follow back! : )


  9. Really interesting post! I can't believe you food shop every day! I utterly despise it so I prefer to get a weeks worth of shopping all in a oner.

    One thing I would struggle with is the timing (as you did). I leave for work at 8am and get back at 7.30pm. Unfortunately most of my local shops are closed outside those hours and many local shops don't open at all on a Sunday. I think that's unacceptable these days if small businesses expect to compete with 24 hour supermarkets.


  10. your tescoe sounds like my target. i stopped shopping there for a month and it was pretty tough! it's just so convenient! but good for you for even just being aware of where you shop!


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