Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living
Beware the shoppe and stick to egg sandwiches
Saturday 02 September 2006
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.
Derek Pain: I'm cautious, but remain one of the few bulls in the market
Donald MacInnes: Who would want to be a Barbie girl in a non-Barbie world?
Mark Dampier: How to get an income now that savings are past the 'use by' date
Thousands of UK investors could lose out following collapse of Secured Energy Bonds
Bargain Hunter: Fly off for a winter break in France or Portugal for well under £100
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
Day In a Page
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion