My day avoiding supermarkets

Local Mum Nicole Kirk spends a day avoiding supermarkets in Wallington and Carshalton. Find out how she gets on.

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Right then, it was a co-incidence that this week, I had a shopping experience in Tesco that was on par with the Apocalypse – yes, I used those exact words to @UKTesco and we have been exchanging tweets all week. In the same week, Lent has started and there is a surge of communities trying to support local businesses and somewhere along the way, an idea mentioned on Facebook was to give up supermarkets for Lent.

After my usual Saturday morning of checking Facebook while in bed before I face the real world, a local Carshalton Mum has started her mission about supporting local shops as part of Lent, and posted a comment about her sourcing loo roll NOT from a supermarket.

Now, I am a few days late in starting but hey, I’m trying here! I have only recently just got back into the habit of being organised, planning weekly menus on the weekend for the whole week, placing the order from the comfort of my home, wearing my 3yr old pyjama bottoms while doing so, sipping a cup of coffee and plugging the order in on my laptop, knowing that the delivery is arriving on Monday.

I was going to do this ‘local thing’ TODAY! I found myself applying hair spray(?), under eye cream and lipstick, got to the car and found myself creaming my exposed feet with handcream..this is all true! This ‘supporting local businesses’ has already started off differently! Never mind, I was feeling all good and proud, listening to the sounds of Magic FM (giving away my age here but it’s my only peaceful time without the children demanding THE TOP 4O MUM’).

Right, first things first, to shop locally, you generally need cash, well, it makes it easier anyways. I drove to Wallington station, parked the car (15minutes max is your allowance and no return within 2hrs) – that’s fine, cash machine in station, car parked, bish, bash bosh…TFX here I come! I was looking for risotto and fish. Before I even entered the store, 4 avocado’s for 99pence? YES PLEASE! Not even on my list and the reason why my husband insists that online shopping is better as avoids compulsive buying – whatever!

First impression of the store was great – very clean, greeted at the door and then I went into the back – it was like an oasis! Meat, olives, cakes, bread – STOP, I said to myself, you are here to buy risotto and fish AND your mission was to get the fruit and veg from the Carshalton Patch! Ok, I checked, no fish, I quickly checked the price per kilo of the chicken as I knew I was popping into another butchers later. Alas, no risotto, they stock every type of rice under the sun but were out of stock. Never mind, I still had a great impression of the store.

Back to the car and off to Carshalton Beeches. Great parking here I thought and armed myself with my heavy duty shopping bag. (It is from Marks and Spencers but looks retro and was less obvious than the others I have). I crossed the road and voila, the Carshalton Patch was there! Within seconds, and I mean seconds Mark (see? I am on first name terms already!) came over.

 I announced I was from Carshalton Mums and from there on, it felt like I had a personal shopper with me for the rest of the visit! Delicious stuff indeed – I walked away with jam, potatoes, onions, eggs, divine tomatoes and a savoy..£11, SO worth it! I REALLY regret not taking the delicious chutney, told myself it would just lead to cheese and wine…life is too short, I will get it next week! Andy was busy helping others but managed to tell me about the special rhubarb they have in stock.

I popped into the lovely shabby chic store which they are set up in front of – unfortunately, they did not have what I needed this time but lovely stuff!

I crossed the road and got a coffee and some bread from the bakery then drove off in search of a bathroom mirror locally. I popped into another green grocers – bought three items which cost me £2 more elsewhere, not only that, what I bought, looked a bit ‘tired’. Anyways, next stop, a butchers. No fish, LOVELY meat but realised it was MORE THAN twice per kilo than the what I had seen earlier at TFX..sorry, I just cannot afford that. I am out shopping for everyday dinners, not a special occasion!

I then drove and parked at Lidl. I started to feel a bit stressed now as internet shopping takes me 1 hour from the comfort of my home and I finish with having completed a food shop for one week, here I was, it was an hour later and I had not even got everything I needed for tonight and tomorrow!

I sat there confused, is Lidl ok? Is it supporting local businesses? It didn’t feel like it was ‘ok’ (though not sure who is judging here, just me being hard on myself trying to prove that I CAN do this!) But if the mums promoted TFX which was great, how different is that from Lidl? I would imagine that in different parts of London, there is another TFX, which makes it a chain, no?

I picked up chicken, Nutella and parmesean from there but they did not stock risotto and only had frozen seafood! I popped in Tesco Express, as much as I loathed to because of my ‘beef’ (excuse the pun) I was having with them earlier in the week. I felt nervous, like at any minute, a local mum was going to tap me on the shoulder saying ‘Ha, got ya!’….

I then dragged my feet over to Sainsburys, I was desperate and felt deflated and defeated but I needed salmon, raw prawns, dog food and noodles.

What have I learnt from this?

• I enjoy the convenience of online shopping so I will be trying out a Yours Locally and other local companies for delivery for meats and other essentials.

• Carshalton needs a place that sells fresh FISH!

• I LOVE The Carshalton Patch and will be going back next week!

• I’m avoiding the big 5 supermarkets but my local area needs to be able to provide me with more choices.

• I can’t wait 1-2 times a month for a farmers market to provide me with some fish but I will support them when they are in town.

• I know that butcher’s need to make a profit but I can’t afford double the prices so will continue my mission to find a butcher’s who fits within my budget.

Was I successful today in my quest to support local businesses, I don’t know, you tell me! The total experience took me 2 hours and I covered 12 miles.

I will try my best to shop as locally as I can but I won’t beat myself up about not being able to sustain it 100% as after all, they do provide jobs for local people (even if they pay their staff minimum wage which local people have to top up with tax credits from our own pockets!)

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