It was the great salad revolt that decided me

Related Topics
I CAN pinpoint exactly when I fell out of love with the Sainsbury's way of life. I was in the kitchen mixing a greenish salad, tossing together a selection of those interesting tasty leaves that shoppers encounter in Sainsbury's stores, things such as oak leaf lettuce, rocket, feuille de Chine, frisee and lamb's tongue.

My husband looked into the bowl and groaned. 'I'm fed up with frilly salads that look as if they have come from a French nightclub. What on earth is wrong with real lettuce?' The children continued the attack. 'We like salads with green lettuce, tomato and cucumber and we like ordinary vinegar, the sort you put on chips,' the eldest said. My seven- year-old added wistfully, 'for school dinners we have real salad cream with our salad.'

When a state-of-the-art Sainsbury's store opened at the end of my road more than a year ago I was delighted. I too could make those effortlessly superior meals advertised by the stars on television. Visiting friends who shopped at Sainsbury's convinced me they enjoyed superior perks: their barbecues had fragrant hickory chips thrown upon them. They bought balsamic vinegar, dark and mysterious, by the cut-price pint, vacuum-packed ready-to-eat chestnuts, high-juice natural squashes for their kids.

But the reality of shopping at Sainsbury's proved disappointing, compared with the smaller supermarkets and local shops I had used before.

First, it took so much longer, at least 40 minutes more per week. This is because the entire neighbourhood flocks there; first you hunt for a parking space, then you face queues at the checkouts - even on Sundays.

The distance you are expected to trundle your trolley is equivalent to a good hike. I had not expected to encounter the Sainsbury's exhaustion factor but it is horribly real. I arrived there at 9.30am on Friday morning and was still there at 11.45am. One day I returned home, sat on the sofa and woke at 2.30pm. It was time to pick the children up from school. Sainsbury's was taking the best part of the day.

Second, despite all those cut- price offers they advertise, I persistently spent more than I wanted to: perhaps pounds 30 a week - even when I tried steeling myself against temptation. Another drawback was that I kept running into people I knew. A good friend said it was the only supermarket she knew that she put lipstick on for. I found myself reluctantly accepting supper invitations and discussing teachers while pondering the packs of chicken breasts.

In order to avoid all this, and save time, I even experimented by going at 8.30am. But what shop is worth doing that for? It was just at this point that the salad revolt occurred, a month ago. It hit a raw nerve. I was secretly raring for change. There was something relaxing about standing in a local shop watching the assistants weigh the exact produce you wanted. Local traders, who estimate they have lost 30 per cent of their business since the Sainsbury's store opened, welcomed me back. They even carried my bags to the car.

The specialist cheese shop two doors up now sells better unpasteurised cheese than Sainsbury's: even Lenny Henry's chef would be impressed.

Three out of the four butchers around me have closed in recent months. But the one that remains sells fine meat. The children's favourite lunch, believe it or not, is roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. They also love the shop's sausages made into toad-in-the- hole. These were children recently toying with vegetarianism. They also prefer traditional gammon to the slender, sweet-cure packs I bought at the Sainsbury's store. I have also started to make real rice pudding (1 pint of milk, 1 1/2 tablespoons of pudding rice, 1 tablespoon of sugar), at a fraction of the cost of those fiddly yoghurt desserts. It goes down famously.

In truth, I never once made a Sainsbury's celebrity recipe. There was something too manipulative about it all. My final discovery is that the smaller local supermarket I used to despise is a joy to visit. It is deserted. I go there every fortnight for boring basics and there are always plenty of people available to help me pack.

So, until Sainsbury's makes the experience less exhausting and cheaper I will remain a satisfied post-Sainsbury's person. I've been there and I've done it.

And I've been testing out my experience against friends. They too have been put off. We say long live local shops. But my small daughter has yet to amend her version of the famous nursery rhyme. It runs: 'This little piggy went to the supermarket . . .'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

I saw the immigration lies a mile off - and now nobody can deny it

Nigel Farage
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

Who wouldn’t like a sharing economy? Well, me, for one

Mary Dejevsky
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game