Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

Beware the shoppe and stick to egg sandwiches

Inspired by the example of various fellow thrift-seekers, who have sworn to me the financial worthiness of doing the weekly food shop only at local outlets (interspersed with a monthly haul at Lidl), I decide to spend the last week of the children's holidays without stepping into a single supermarket. This looks quite simple. We are on a self-catering holiday in Cornwall and the sun is shining, so its egg sandwiches and pasties on the beach for lunch. Furthermore, it's the perfect county to choose, since Cornwall's 5,000 campsites have turned it into the national home of the tiny jar of Nescafé, sourced via Londis, branches of which seem to be down almost every village street.

But because people like to take the city with them when they go away, there is also a giant Morrisons up the road. We drive past it snootily. "Ha! We are definitely not going in there," I say, pointing at a whimsical sign directly opposite; "Look, children! True Cornish Fayre. Local Cornish Farm Shoppe. That's where we'll go."

Two days into the holiday and I discover that limiting every purchase to Londis or True Cornish Fayre has drawbacks. First, you have to be very creative with your cooking. True, you will buy hardly any pre-processed meals (good), but you must also face up to preparing supper out of whatever's left at the bottom of the vegetable rack at Londis (not so good). One of our meals has to be prepared from a bag of Knorr savoury rice, and a marrow.

Second, working outside the supermarket model means you have to actually get used to interacting with human beings. This is fine if you are talking to bonny Cornish maids eager to weigh your shallots for you (Cornish Fayre). It's not so great when you are handling bonny Cornish maids fed up with your errant children (Londis).

"Could you please control your son!" the Londis lady shouted at me after the youngest Millard had run riot amongst the Pot Noodles and tanked into a Cornish Pasty-baking oven. I don't blame her, but it's hard. Shopping sans trolley, baby seat, snacks and those handy CBeebies magazines, all within easy reach at supermarkets, means you have to fall back on parenting skills (yes, those) while juggling with a wire basket, five cans of tuna, and a marrow.

Yet does it save you money? Yes, and no. Yes, if you stick to simple, seasonal food, don't mind the odd Heinz label creeping in, and are prepared to work quite hard at the end result.

No, if you decide that pure Cornish Crème Fraiche, locally-churned fudge, packets of tea for £10.99 and wild boar sausages are the only reasonable alternative to a £250 moment at the Morrisons till. The sad truth is that swapping a Morrisons trolley for a wicker basket at Cornish Fayre, or equivalent, is like trading trenches at the Somme.

No matter how free-range the latter is. Simply changing your loyalty from a giant high street name to a posh deli is definitely no help to your debts. You have to forget about being a foodie, in other words, and remember why you are doing this in the first place. You have not shunned spending time in Tuscany and Tesco this summer on health grounds. You have done it on budgetary grounds. You must, therefore, make your decision to sit on a gloriously windy Cornish beach and shop locally work, both as a good idea for a family holiday, and the only choice for a dedicated thrift seeker.

Even if a supper of marrow risotto has made you desperate the next day to book a babysitter and head off to Jamie Oliver's Cornish restaurant where supper comes in at £60 a head, you must not cave in. Eating cheaply one night does not let you off the hook for the next. It just means that you are better prepared to eat just as cheaply the night after. And the night after that.

And when you arrive home sporting that subtle windswept tan only a British seaside holiday can bestow, you can take yourself on a virtuous, virtual journey. You canvisit your online bank account; do that now familiar monthly budget check on your credit cards and find that thanks to your new-found enthusiasm for British beaches and Pot Noodle, they have not been sent spiralling off course. Far from having a September hangover, you will still be on your route to have all your debts repaid by Christmas.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

    £22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

    Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

    Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

    Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

    Competitive (Freelance) : Guru Careers: An Investment Writer / Stock Picker is...

    Day In a Page

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue
    E L James's book Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

    Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

    It's hard to understand why so many are buying it – but then best-selling was ever an inexact science, says DJ Taylor
    Behind the scenes of the world's most experimental science labs

    World's most experimental science labs

    The photographer Daniel Stier has spent four years gaining access to some of the world's most curious scientific experiments
    It's the stroke of champions - so why is the single-handed backhand on the way out?

    Single-handed backhand: on the way out?

    If today's young guns wish to elevate themselves to the heights of Sampras, Graf and Federer, it's time to fire up the most thrilling shot in tennis
    HMS Saracen: Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled

    HMS Saracen

    Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'

    7/7 bombings 10 years on

    Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'