Cotswolds couple take on year without supermarkets challenge
TRY to imagine going a whole year without the convenience of supermarkets.
Now imagine it on a food budget of just £50 a week, with a nine-month-old baby to look after.
That is the challenge that Ian and Rebekah Pugh have set themselves this year in a bid to support local producers and hopefully save a few pennies while they are at it.
The couple have drawn up some strict rules for the year’s trial, which includes no shopping of any kind at a supermarket, cooking nutritional meals from scratch and slashing their weekly food budget in half if they are tempted to cheat.
Rebekah, who volunteers for Independent Age in Cirencester, a national charity offering friendship and support to isolated older people, said: "When I first suggested the idea to my husband he thought it was crazy and that it would cost too much money. That’s why we decided on the budget and the rules."
She said the couple had regularly spent more than £80 a week on food shopping in supermarkets before, but it had actually been quite easy to cut costs down.
"People are really surprised that we’re spending less," she said. "But when we went to the supermarket we would just get exactly the same thing each time. Now we’ll go to the local market and get whatever they’ve got on special offer. It costs less and we’ve got a much more varied diet."
So far the couple have resisted the lure of convenience shopping and have not crossed a single supermarket’s threshold since they started at the end of last year.
Along with shopping at their local market in Faringdon, they often buy fruit and vegetables from Cirencester stores and from local suppliers near to Rebekah’s parents’ home in Coln St Aldwyn.
"We won’t use supermarket petrol stations or cash machines – it’s a complete boycott," Rebekah said.
She said nappies and other baby necessities were easy to get hold of at the local chemist.
However, a real "sticking point" for the family was buying a pint of milk.
"It’s not that it’s hard to find milk locally but it’s hard to find it at a fair price," Rebekah said. "After meeting producers, we actually want to pay more for it. The dairy farmers are getting less than the milk’s worth and they’re really struggling."
The 27-year-old former mental health worker said that originally their ‘year without supermarkets’ challenge had been something fun to blog about during her maternity leave.
But after meeting local farmers and suppliers, she said the task had become far more about ethics.
"Shopping locally means you can be confident where the food’s come from and putting money into the local economy is fantastic," she said.
"We don’t want our little girl to have food full of chemicals or other hidden things.
"The horse meat scandal is good for local shops because it makes people think more about the journey and processes that food can go through when it’s not local."
The Pugh family are intent on seeing the year out and are so far hopeful that they will become "officially no supermarkets for life".
Read about their triumphs and tribulations and local recipes at ayearwithoutsupermarkets.com