Slowly over the course of this year, I’ve been changing my relationships with supermarkets.
For the record – I hate them. I do everything I can to avoid them. I don’t mind them so much in foreign cities (Russia! So much vodka!), where they double as anthropology lessons. But Melbourne supermarkets? Shoot me now.
Beyond the ethics of the evil duopoly my local big supermarket has some added annoyances including fluorescent lighting that gives me a migraine, an increasingly limited range of small brands, gold coin unlocking of trolleys, ticket parking (free but you still need to grab one) and replacing employees with self-serve checkouts.
I’ve always minimized my supermarket shopping by buying my fresh fruit, vegetables, deli foods and other goodies at Vic Markets, during my weekly pilgrimage. But there are still pesky things like toilet paper and cleaning products (even bicarb soda and white vinegar are best bought in bulk) that see me at the supermarket every couple of weeks.
Other than the months that the Significant Eater is here (he worships the Big C & W in the same way that I adore the market, providing a nifty division of labour) I keep my forays to the fluorescent palace to a minimum. Though this year, I’ve implemented an entirely different strategy that works perfectly for the weeks that I’m home alone.
Walk, shop locally and buy only what you can carry.
A mere 15 minutes wander away is a great local IGA. Time-wise, the walk is about the same as the drive/park/ticket/trolley rigmarole. They stock an amazing array of food that I’ve never seen at Coles or Woolies and have an impressive range of vegan/dairy-free/wheat-free/healthy items. Of course they also have the basics, including the eco brands that I like that the big guys have ceased stocking.
My spine's a bit dodgy. I can only carry a medium sized backpack and not load myself up with extra bags, so it’s great for reducing impulse buys. I can usually fit just one. But the upside is a free workout and time to relax during the walk. This is my favourite multi-tasking, even more so when it’s a seamless segue from breakfast at one of my favourite local cafes.
The walk/shop/carry model mightn’t work for you, especially if you shop for more than one or two, or if you don’t get your fresh produce elsewhere. But it’s certainly helping me minimize unnecessary purchases – and get fit at the same time.
Do you love your local? What stops you from shopping there more often?