Groceries – Day 03: Salt, flour, free and cheap food

3 Mar
Budget carried over from previous days: 12p
Content of pantry before shopping: 

- Perishable:

   1/2 apple
   half a bacon roll worth of bacon (now frozen) ~ 30 grams
   1 small cup yogurt
   small piece of ginger (1 meal worth)

- Non-perishable:

   600 grams rice + 200 grams of rice ground into rice flour
   10 grams mash
   1 small cup of marmelade
   mixed herbs

Total budget available for day 3: £ 1.12
Budget used: £ 1.00
Budget left: £ 0.12
Budget available for day 4: £ 1.12

After an easy day, it’s full blown misery again – Still trying to build up a pantry, and at the same time I’m all out of vegetables (although I’ve still got half an apple). But first I set off to the True Food Coop.
I found it, 15 minutes before closing time, and talked to a very friendly chap called Chris who showed me around and informed me about how things work over there. Most interesting was the fact that yes, items are being sold in small amounts. In fact, that’s part of the point of the place they’re running.Thinking of it, it makes sense. When normally I buy my spices, I tend to drop by at the Asian supermarket for them – you just get better value than when buying little jars of spices at your regular supermarket. The only problem is that you end up keeping a stash of spice bags in the pantry, which clutters up things a bit. I’d gladly spit spices and their costs, but with whom?Back to the true food coop. Brilliant. Want a single egg? A tablespoon of flour? No problem. For variation, that’s great – what’s not so great is that an egg clocks in at almost 30p, or nearly the price of a meal (this month, at least). In that sense, sadly, they’ve got a formidable competitor in price-busting supermarkets. That’s a pity, because the sales model is very sensible – allow people to buy the quantities they need, and the result is less waste. Perhaps I’ll manage later this month – if not, I’ll know where to find the place afterwards.

After hearing my story, Chris spontaneously offered to help with a blemished cucumber and apple (no longer suitable for sale but still usable), as well as some herbal tea samples. I accepted, thanked him and headed to the supermarket. Not having planned the trip properly today, I had trouble deciding what to get. I knew I needed to get vegetables, but finally realized that I had pretty near my five-a-day available already with the cucumber, apple, half apple and a baggie of fruit I picked up in the discount section. I left the supermarket with just a 5p baggie of fruit, a small onion, a banana, and two important items for my pantry: salt and flour.
Groceries Day 3
I went for self-raising this time because it will allow me to postpone getting yeast for just a bit longer. I’m planning to do a lot of different things with the flour, so hopefully going for self-raising was not a mistake. Fingers crossed. I won’t have to worry about salt anymore for a long time to come- and the carbs in my pantry will last me quite a while too now. That’s at least an 81p off my chest – quite an investment that was. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have some soda bread.

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2 Responses to “Groceries – Day 03: Salt, flour, free and cheap food”

  1. Ciaran McHale March 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    “what’s not so great is that an egg clocks in at almost 30p, or nearly the price of a meal (this month, at least). In that sense, sadly, they’ve got a formidable competitor in price-busting supermarkets.”

    The perception that True Food’s prices are more expensive than those in a supermarket is quite a common one, but it is really an apples and oranges comparison. Most of the food sold at True Food is organic, and its prices for such food often match or significantly undercut prices for organic food sold in supermarkets. For example, the cheapest organic porridge oats in a supermarket is typically £1.99 per kilo, but (if I remember correctly) it is only £1.24 from a “loose goods” container at True Food. You can buy non-organic porridge oats in a supermarket for less than £1, so it is easy to claim that True Food prices are more expensive, but only if you compare True Food organic prices to a supermarket’s non-organic prices. Likewise, the price of organic eggs at True Food matches the price of organic eggs in supermarkets, but is more expensive than non-organic eggs sold in supermarkets.

    I don’t know if your £1-per-day budget will allow you the luxury of buying any organic food, but if so, True Food is likely to be your most affordable option; especially for dry, loose goods, such as sugar, porridge oats, lentils and beans, all of which you can obtain in whatever size quantity you want from loose goods containers. Unfortunately, I don’t recall True Food selling flour from the loose goods containers, and a kilo of organic flour (certainly more than £1) sold in a sealed bag might be out of your budget this month.

    • kleinebre March 5, 2012 at 12:10 am #

      Yes, I understood as much from my chat with Chris. I’m certainly doing some soul searching and thinking a lot about ethics of food in its relationship with money lately. It seems that as money grows tighter, you need to walk nearer the line between “right” and “wrong”. If you get close enough to that line, it goes blurry and you can no longer tell which side you’re on.

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