It can be time-consuming but you do have to shop around if you want to spend less on your food. What you use in time you make up for in pennies.
Our market, and the corner shops, sell bowls full of fruit and veg and each bowl is £1. I got a huge bowl of baby plum tomatoes. But watch out because the other day they were selling 3 plantains for a £1 but the shop a few doors away was selling 4 plantains for £1.
Their fish is often cheaper and fresher than the supermarket. For example you can get five sea bass or five seabream for £10 – that’s five meals sorted! But I notice that the salmon fillets in the supermarket are much cheaper than the fishmonger!
The specialist shops or ‘corner’ shops
This is my most favourite discovery. London is so multicultural it caters for every taste. My corner shop sells black mustard seeds at a fraction of the price of the supermarkets (if they actually stock them). The Mediterranean supermarkets sell a wide range of products often catering for restaurants so they sell larger quantities eg olives, capers, tinned tomatoes, roasted peppers etc. I remember once being given a huge bunch of fresh coriander for about 50 pence by a lovely woman at one of my local Turkish corner shops. Check them all out!
If you make yourself a regular at the butcher’s you can probably bag yourself some cheaper offcuts and they’ll save up some bones that you can use for meat stocks.
Alternatively, so long as the meat in the supermarket has the British red tractor mark, you know it has been reared to a certain standard.
Waste not want not
Now, when you do find these bargain fresh foods don’t go over board. Buy what you need. If you buy excess – cook it straight away and freeze it so that nothing goes to waste.
You can’t beat home grown. Hands up, right now I’m not growing anything. There are apples growing in the garden and there are some very neglected raspberries and rhubarb. But if you can make the time to grow your own or sign up for an allotment if you don’t have a garden, then it’s worth the effort. Nothing tastes nicer than something you’ve grown yourself and you know exactly where it’s come from.