Until the start of Lent, our shopping routine was utterly predictable. I went to the supermarket once a week and bought pretty much everything. Did a token visit to the butchers and also got a small delivery of organic veg every Thursday. We have our favourite brands which we never deviate from, eat the same meals from one week to the next and hardly ever run out of anything.
Take Sainsbury’s out of the equation though, and all of a sudden there is a real sense of uncertainty in the kitchen. Where do we get certain items? Are they even available anywhere outside a supermarket? If we can’t get them, what are we going to eat instead? The local corner shop and the mini-supermarket don’t sell yoghurts ( a packed lunch staple for both kids) and we haven’t found a dairy that delivers in our postcode yet. Substitutes to our normal brands can be good – the cheese I got from the butchers was really tasty – but other purchases (like the corner shop’s can of mushy tuna instead of my usual Sainsbury’s tuna) have frankly made me feel a bit queasy.
Life’s a lot more interesting without supermarkets though. 3YO and myself had a great trip into town on the bus on Tuesday. We bought some cheap red and yellow peppers from the market, and visited an eco shop called Out of this World, where we stocked up on lots of things. This included halva, which I haven’t had for years, but was delighted to find that 3YO loved it! She also had a lengthy conversation about Angelina Ballerina with the shop assistant, as an added bonus.
Everything’s taking much more time and effort, with no guaranteed results. The first week I phoned the veg box people to ask for a one-off delivery of extra potatoes and fruit. As we ate almost all of it, I called them again first thing the following week with a view to making the larger delivery a regular order. All their lines were busy, so as instructed I left my name, number and a brief message, in which I outlined that I wanted to increase my order, effective immediately, and could someone please call me back about this. No callback. At all. The Thursday delivery came, without the extra fruit and spuds, and (as we were away this weekend and didn’t manage to go to the farmers market) we now have no fruit left that the kids will eat. I suppose it’s partly down to me being on my high horse thinking I shouldn’t have to phone them back. Maybe I need to break out of my supermarket-seduced ‘customer is king’ mindset? Meanwhile, the organic box people have been busy posting lots of links to animal welfare petitions on their Facebook page, so they’re evidently not letting trifles like accepting money from paying customers interfere with their core purpose.
Overall, I’m finding that not knowing where – or even if – I’m going to be able to buy certain items is incredibly unsettling. It says a lot about how set in my ways I’ve become, that I’m so freaked out without the comforting familiarity which supermarkets provide. Given that the majority of people in the world have little or no choice about what they eat, I’m also feeling a bit guilty for stressing about the lack of Petits Filous. Since the beginning of Lent, quite frankly we’ve not been hungry, and we’ve tried a couple of new types of food. And 3YO and me will probably have another fun trip to the market tomorrow. So far so good.