…shop small, shop local – our no supermarket challenge…

After being away last weekend, I got home to find enough stuff in the freezer still for multiple dinners. With only a few bits and pieces needed to get us through until at least Wednesday or Thursday, I decided to see if I could push it an entire week not going to the supermarket, and just picking up the bits and pieces we needed at the local indie specialist shops. And just like that, our first Shop Small Shop Local No Supermarket challenge was underway!

DAY 1 – Monday was all good, it’s our normal grocery day, and we often have enough left over to get through the day so we aren’t forced out the door first thing to do groceries, so I was able to make Beetle’s preschool lunch, and feed the three big kids as well as make dinner thanks to Sunday roast leftovers.

DAY 2 – uh oh, all the snacks are gone! Normally this would send me scuttling downtown, a sure sign we were due for a grocery shop. Instead, I spent 15 minutes or so in the kitchen prepping some seed crackers that I could pop in the oven to bake while I finished off the dinner prep.

DAY 3 – Wednesday is usually the latest I can get away with leaving the groceries until, and even then it’s only when sick kids prevent me getting out. After brekkie I did a quick stocktake, and really, it was only fruit we were low on for today, and I needed some spring onions for dinner. I did take the last loaf of bread out of the freezer, and noted we were down to the last of our butter, which lunch time polished off, and the cheese followed suit. We took a break from school mid morning to walk down to the greengrocer to buy fruit & veggies, and then on our way to collect Beetle from preschool we stopped by our local indie organic general store, and picked up butter, cheese (as I needed it for dinner), a small bottle of milk on Alecia as a back-up, and I also grabbed a sourdough batard loaf (baked locally from locally milled flour – how cool is that?), for open sandwiches tomorrow when the current loaf runs out.

DAY FOUR – nothing needed from the shops.

DAY FIVE – with the weekend ahead, and rain predicted, I wanted to avoid going downtown as much as possible on Saturday, so we did a stocktake and attacked the shops in stages. We started with a walk downtown to the bakery just before lunch. The closest bakery to us doesn’t have eftpos, which necessitated a stop via the bank (only half a block further up the street from the bakery), and coming back towards the bakery, we stopped at the Cancer Council still to buy a bunch of daffodils because who doesn’t need cheery flowers on a Friday? Bakery done, our next requirement was meat for Saturday night dinner and a roast for Sunday night. Our Friday afternoons are reasonably busy so I decided to stack the shopping with our regular outings, and stopped by the butcher on the way home from the first drop off of the afternoon. Then the third and final stage of Friday’s “shop local” plan was on the way home from swimming, when I would normally go straight home and then wait for Mr Barefoot to arrive before dashing back out to one of the supermarkets for a bottle of wine. Tonight, instead, I stopped by the local independent drive-thru bottlo, who I have recently discovered stock my fave wine, and at a price point equal to IGA and lower than Coles/Woolies. Win/win! We also got 2 dozen eggs from one of Mr Barefoot’s clients who has a small egg farming business.

DAY SIX – we didn’t need the shops today – huzzah! We didn’t get to bake weekend snacks Friday afternoon, but my mum & dad popped in to drop of some beekeeping equipment for Miss Butterfly, and brought along some morning tea for us, from the bakery. Then for dinner I had bought some chicken schnitzels on Friday from the butcher, and we added hot chips bought from the fish & chip shop.

DAY SEVEN – we were down to long life milk for breakfast, and also used the last of our butter, which meant we couldn’t bake any extra snacks. It made for an interesting day! Lunch was omelettes, afternoon tea was pancakes, and at 4pm, I finally went to the supermarket for the first time all week, as we needed snacks for Beetle to take to preschool on Monday (and anything school suitable needed butter to bake), along with weetbix for Mr Barefoot’s breakfast (we were down to our final 4 slices of bread – again saving it for preschool). While I was there I also grabbed some fresh veggies for dinner & a side salad.

WRAP UP:

I really enjoyed this challenge!! I’m hoping to incorporate a “no supermarket” week on a regular basis now that we’ve done it and know it can be done. I know I won’t eschew the supermarket completely (with four kids home full time, click & collect at Coles is a sure fire hit around here!), but I do know I can be better at buying things at the small independents. Cost wise, we saved a stack on our grocery budget this week by using up all the bits and pieces in the pantry and baking our own snacks. The final tally:

Fruit shop: $34

Bakery: $15

Butcher: $42

Organic shop: $26

Pre-challenge top ups: $32

Sunday evening mercy dash: $20

Total grocery cost for the week: $170

Average grocery budget @ supermarket: $240

Other spending – wine $15, hot chips $6

Other spending average – wine $18, takeaway $35 minimum

Not a bad result, really! What would I change? Possibly add in an extra stop at the organic shop on Friday afternoon for weekend perishables, as that was our biggest downfall. I also forgot to factor in that bakery bread is yummier than supermarket bread, so we ended up running through a loaf quicker than usual (though in fairness I could have baked bread over the weekend if I’d had the mojo).

And like all best laid plans of mice and men…this week I did a big shop solely at the supermarket yesterday, as Miss7 woke up sick and with the cupboards and fridge empty, click & collect was my best option to both care for her by requiring the minimum time away from home, and also minimise the risk of spreading her tummy bug through the community by not having her out in public. We are having guests on the weekend, so I will do a top-up shop on Friday with the small local shops instead.

5 thoughts on “…shop small, shop local – our no supermarket challenge…

  1. Ooh I love the ideal of this and I have been trying (I literally have a fruit shop / butcher) a block from home. BUT… I find the weeks I do my mini shops I tend to cop a bigger bill at the supermarket the following week. Would love to know if your weekly average at the shops was more or still the same this week!

    1. Good point!! I did a supermarket shop yesterday and it was $206, compared to average $240, and included a few bigger household items like dishwashing tablets etc. In saying that, I am rather strict about menu planning and only buying what we need each week, so didn’t have a big stockpile to fall back on and then have to replace this week.

    2. Also bear in mind these weren’t flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants top ups (which I usually do when doing supermarket top ups), but were considered and forward planned like I would for a regular grocery shop

  2. I’ve given up on supermarket bread, fruit and veg and meat. I am fortunate that one supermarket I frequent still has a independent butcher and fruit & veg shop outside and another has a bakery. I’d love to find other ways to cut down my $$ going to supermarkets, but full time work plus busy lives in general don’t help!

    1. That’s so awesome your indies are as easy to access as your supermarket! Could you maybe order grocery items online from a small family owned general store? Or DIY some options?

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