Sunday, 9 October 2016

Where do I buy my food?

I get asked a lot how I afford to eat the food I do on a relatively small budget and to cut straight to the point, the key is in shopping around and unfortunately not taking the easy option (i.e. just ordering everything online at Ocado). As easy as that is, I couldn't afford to eat what I do and maintain this lifestyle if I did that. I think this is where a lot of people go wrong when they believe eating well is unaffordable and unachievable as my tips below show that really isn't the case and it can be much cheaper than you actually think.

So my answer to this post title has changed a lot over the years. However, now I think it's changed for good and here's why...

My staple zoats: filling, nutritious and only £2 a bowl - bargain

The last two years of living between Surrey and London I have religiously bought my fruit and veg from the market. When I was near Kingston I'd go to the amazing market each weekend in Market Place and now I'm in South London I just go to the local market stores on Streatham High Road.

The reason for using market stalls as opposed to supermarkets is not only because it's much cheaper, but you can buy what's in season and it's often organic.

When I was near Kingston, they have a fishmonger in Market Place and he sells the freshest fish, which he often will do on offer if it's nearing the end of the day. Just off Streatham Hill I have found a fishmonger that I will buy fish from when I fancy it. As disgusting as it is walking into a shop smelling of fish (believe me I still find it hard and nearly gag every time I go in), you just can't beat the freshness and value you will receive compared to a supermarket. It quite literally is double the produce for half the price and much better quality.

When I moved to Streatham Hill I found an award winning halal butcher. Now I was used to ordering my meat online from food companies in order to try and reduce cost as much as possible... But let's be honest, nobody likes receiving 2.5kg chicken in a bag and the quality is never as good as it's portrayed on Instagram...

I had never eaten halal meat before (as far as I was aware), let alone gone into a halal butcher. However, I had heard promising things about the quality of their meat and great customer service so I thought I'd give it a go. All I can say is WOW.

The size of the chicken breasts and the tenderness of the meat partnered with even cheaper prices than these online retailers and of course no delivery charge - I just couldn't believe it! Another added bonus is that you're not compelled to bulk buy meat and have it take up half your freezer space either; unless you want to of course. Not only this but the diced chicken breast is the same price as the whole chicken breast - perfect when you cba to even pick up a knife. Plus they will mince the chicken breast for you right there and then for no extra cost. I mean if that isn't service then I don't know what is.

I've literally never looked back and cannot believe I've been eating such dry, tiny chicken breasts for 24 years of my life (insert vomming emoji). I have no idea what they do to the meat (bar the way they kill it to make it halal, obv) but it is bloody amazing and I will never go back to ordering online again.

If you can seek out a halal butcher I'd seriously urge you to try it and if you're lucky enough to live near a Tariq Halal butcher then thank me later!

Freshly baked sourdough - my weakness!
This includes everything from rice, chickpeas, coconut milk, lentils, tinned tomatoes, coconut oil and spices. I get all these ingredients from my local Indian shop. Super cheap and tonnes of it! There's usually an Indian shop located somewhere close to a market so do a bit of research, find your local shop and stock up!

For my pasta, sauerkraut, oats and bread I go to my local Polish shop on Streatham High Road, which does amazing whole food ingredients (my staples are buckwheat pasta, rye or sourdough bread and millet flakes). I may have to whack out my translator half the time as nothing is in English but now I know where everything is I can just pop in and pick up my staples as and when I need to without feeling like a complete foreigner. I also buy my kefir from here, which is literally just over £1 for 1L! Bargain.

Of course, if I want to stock up on superfoods such as acai, spirulina or nut butter, I won't be finding them in the Indian shop, unfortunately. This is when I'll turn to either shopping in Whole Foods if I'm passing by or I'll shop online at somewhere that stocks a big range of produce at competitive prices, such as 'Buy Whole Foods Online'.

Vivo Life is where I get the vegan protein powder I use every day and it's their own brand of protein, which they carefully formulated in order to provide the best possible vegan protein on the market in terms of both performance and taste. I'm also OBSESSED with their gelatinised maca.

Now obviously this is where and how I do my shopping 95% of the time. However, there are going to be times when these shops aren't open or it's just not convenient to go. In this case, of course I will just pop to the Tesco Express across the road from me. But shopping around as I've described above for the majority of the time has not only saved me money but allowed me to find fresher and even better tasting ingredients! It also gives me more freedom to eat out with friends or spend money on gym classes (and London rent lol). So give it a go and see how you get on. Even if you just save a few more £ a week, it'll soon add up and be worth the effort.

Jess x


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