After watching this documentary from Dispatches, something I already knew was probably true was confirmed - supermarkets are doing me over for fresh produce. As a keen cook, I love cooking with fresh fruit and veg, but while I want to spend time going to Cardiff's Market and getting all my shopping, I simply don't have time to spend half a day walking there and struggling back with a load of food.
But what is the solution to this problem? For students in particular, the local convenience store is often the go-to grocery shop, leaving little chance for independent grocers in the face of the Tesco Metro. We've all heard about how supermarket chains are putting these guys out of business, and yet despite the fact that their prices are lower, their sources are local and responsible, their profit is steadily decreasing.
I have already dipped into this area here, but after doing a little research I unearthed some useful and equally convenient ways to save money on food without supermarkets.
1. Use Your Greengrocer
If you live near one, use it. Simple as that. Especially if it only takes a few minutes just to walk from one shop to the other. No, it might not have snazzy lights and plastic crates, or false economy 'Big Deals' badges, but it is both frugal and ethical.
2. Give independent stores a chance
If you see Asian, Polish or other markets open near you, have a look inside for the fresh produce. Chances are that it is cheaper than the supermarket and you might discover something new into the bargain.
3. Look into Local Projects
Cardiff University has a brilliant award-winning Fruit and Veg Co-operative that takes place in the SU. You pay for a weekly box from local farmers and simply go and pick it up.
Find your local co-op:
4. Look at Delivery Companies
There are loads of fruit and veg delivery companies who provide wholesale prices fresh seasonal variety, and you don't even have to leave your laptop to shop with them. Simply Google your location along with 'fruit and veg delivery' and you'll find them, or use this directory. Some even sell deli products, meat, fish and salads too, at excellent prices. Get your whole house or flat in on it and save a bundle.
5. Grow Your Own
Yeah, yeah, you say. You aren't going to turn into Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall overnight in an apartment block or titchy student house with a back garden the size of your non-existent green finger. But even if you only grow your own herbs, which are undoubtedly better than dried, you are saving money and producing fresh, organic produce of your own.
For other easy things you can grow in home made containers, on windowsills and indoors, look here.
All this information and more available on my blog - please share, tweet, like and comment!