Saucy Piggy Part II

I thought I would tease you with some food porn. Here is our Saucy Piggy served in tiger rolls with Aldi steak cut chips and a side of Aldi crunchy salad. Delicious!


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New Local Produce Store!

Dear all

When I was bimbling around on my bicycle, I happened to take a turn down North Parade, which I have mentioned in my previous blog posts.  I was very excited to see that one of the little units has been taken off the market and there was a poster in the window, advertising the new business. I nearly burst with glee when I found out it was going to be a new local produce store!  I Googled the name of the business as soon as I got home and it looks like a place where I will be doing a lot of shopping.  Only a five minute cycle from the college and promises delicious goodies.  

‘2 North Parade’ will be opening in September 2013, under the management of Pete Slade and JoJo Goodfellow – both are passionate about food and where it is produced.  They are promising fresh, local produce, including cheese, bread, fruit and veg, coffee, preserves, wines, beers, and ciders, and much much more.  I am particularly excited to see that they are working with a local coffee company to create an artisan blend for the store.  As a coffee junkie, I will be happy to walk round from my office to get my mid-morning fix!  Here is a link to their website and I will post more about it when the info becomes available:

Have a great weekend.

Lynsey x



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Local businesses for local people

Dear all

Sorry for the lack of posts.  My doctorate has been taking up a lot of my time but supporting my local community and rejecting the supermarket are still on the agenda.  I have been doing a little bit of research into local businesses in my spare time and I wanted to share the story of a remarkable Oxford-based enterprise with you all.  

Oxford Wholefoods

Oxford Wholefoods sells exactly what its name suggests.  Delicious wholefoods such as grains, nuts, and dried foods.  I bought a bag of polenta from this company last year (via the Summertown Co-op) and I didn’t realise that I was purchasing from a truly remarkable local scheme.  This 23 year old enterprise is a not for profit venture which employes 40 disabled people and eight supervisors from the Oxford area.  It started at the Slade Hospital, Headington after an occupational therapist witnessed a man with learning difficulties shovelling lentils into a bag in a health food shop.  He decided that this was an ideal way of introducing those with learning difficulties and physical disabilities into the world of work – his foresight  enabled plenty of disabled people to access work-based training.  Oxford Wholefoods is now situated in West Oxford on the Osney Mead industrial estate and according to the Oxford Mail, it has an annual turnover of nearly £500,000.  

In the same Oxford Mail article, the MD of the enterprise stated that the company could make more money if it turned to automation and fewer workers but she firmly believed that it would defeat the point in its existence.  With its current staff, it supplies more than 100 shops including Midcounties Co-operative, the UK’s second largest Co-op, who were one of their first customers.  

Since its humble beginnings, Oxford Wholefoods has given over 80 people work-based training, which has helped to improve the confidence and prospects of those with learning difficulties and disabilities in the community.  The staff are paid what the company terms ‘therapeutic earnings’, which are low enough not to effect the state benefits that the workers are entitled to.  This may sound like exploitation but it must be remembered that this is not a permanent work solution, it is a training facility that prepares the staff for future jobs.  

So to all my Oxford readers, the next time you are out shopping, consider buying an item with the Oxford Wholefoods label on it – you would be supporting a local business that really provides a service to the local community in more ways than one.

I would be very interested to hear of any similar enterprises in your own area.

Best wishes


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Delicious local buys!

Dear all

I did my weekly shop today and again, I have saved money by shopping locally.  I only spent £31 pounds out of my weekly budget of £40.  I am putting the money I have saved into a small savings account to see how quickly it all stacks up.  I won’t be rich but at least it is something.  

The beauty of shopping locally means that I am not tied to any particular supplier.  This week I tried two different traders in the Covered Market for my meat and veg.  I went to Bonner’s, a family run greengrocer, and I spent the princely sum of £3.48 on a head of broccoli, Maris Piper potatoes, chestnut mushrooms, shallots, English onions and a carrot.  That is cheaper than last week’s spend at the one around the corner and all of this is completely fresh and not likely to go off any time soon.  It is nice having the kitchen full of brown paper bags full of delicious smelling veg.  I will test the quality, and who knows, maybe I will become a regular.  

I also went to a different butcher’s called Hedge’s.  They were a bit more expensive than Meatmaster but I thought I would give them a try.  I bought lamb mince, beef mince, and sirloin steaks.  The sirloins really jacked up the price but remember they are expensive anywhere you go.  I hesitated over buying them but the friendly butcher gave me £1 off.  You just don’t get that kind of service at the supermarket.  Local traders WANT your business.  Again, I will check the quality and go back to them if they are nice enough.  

Canned, store cupboard and dairy goods were bought at a local shop and came to exactly £16.50.  That probably sounds like a lot but the cupboard was actually bare and I needed my staples, such as pasta, tinned chopped tomatoes, purees etc.  I have still to check out the People’s Supermarket on the Cowley Road.  My laziness has prevented me from doing so, so far!  Maybe next week.  

I was also fortunate enough to run into a continental market on Broad Street on the way back.  The food looked so appetising – I couldn’t resist.  I bought a massive garlic foccacia and a huge cinnamon bun – which Cobden has demolished.  I don’t know why that boy is skinny.  This thing was the size of a bowler hat!  I have photographed the foccacia, so you can drool over it.  I have still come away with £9 change – so I might be tempted to go back and eat my bodyweight in olives tomorrow.  So much for putting it in a bank account eh?

Hope you are having a lovely week!



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Supermarket Scams

Dear all

I apologise that I have not posted in a few days.  I away away at a history festival and didn’t have internet access.  I thought I would make my ‘comeback’ by highlighting a few supermarket scams…read on and work out for yourself if you have been sucked in.

I have read a number of internet articles on the tricks that supermarkets play to get you to part with your hard earned brass.  Some of them are subtle, others are just plain rude!  They work, however, meaning that the stranglehold continues!  Here is a few of my ‘favourites’:

1.  Offers you cannot refuse

Everywhere you go in the supermarket, you are bombarded with a range of special offers.  They are usually marked out with jazzy tickets and promises for better value.  This is often not the case.  When it comes down to it, these are often scams.  You will often find that they work out as the same price as, or even more expensive than, buying single items or smaller equivalents. These scams often come in the form of multibuys: 3 for 2s etc.   I encourage you all to lift that special offer ticket and do the maths.  All British supermarkets are required by law to state a price per unit.  Tot up the total in your head before you go and buy 12 jars of pickled cabbage!  Think about waste too.  Special offers are often found on everyday basics, such as milk, cheese, and fresh meat. These are all perishable. Some people may freeze the surplus, if they have the space, whereas others forget and it ends up in the bin.  I have been guilty of this, have you?

2.  The Metro/Local stores

Now this is something that is really relevant to my situation.  Oxford, despite being a city, does not have any big supermarkets located near the city centre or on direct bus routes.  Students often do not have cars and are forced to shop at their Sainsbury’s Local or Tesco Metro/Express.  I was stuck in this situation until Steve moved up with the car.  Online shopping is not an option for some, as it requires a minimum spend – typically £25, which believe it or not, is sometimes out of a student’s budget.  So those living in Oxford city centre are forced to shop in these supermarket ‘convenience’ stores, which offer a smaller selection at a higher price than their superstore equivalent.  They are capitalising on a ‘captive market’.  Avoid doing a weekly shop there if you can possibly avoid it!

3.  Rearranging the shop

This is one of my bug bears and it is something that I have been guilty of myself.  When I worked for a national clothing store, we often moved around our department to put the items that didn’t sell closer to the entrance to entice people to buy them.  Supermarkets often do this to shift slow selling stock but they also do this to get you lost.  Getting lost when trying to find a particular product means that you have to hunt for it, going past different aisles crammed full of special offers and capitalising on our instict to impulse buy.  Best way to avoid this – have a shopping list and DO NOT DEVIATE.  Alternatively, try local shopping 😉

4.  Eye level merchandising

This is a very successful tactic that supermarkets employ.  When you next go into the supermarket, say to buy some cola, work out where the most expensive equivalent is situated.  I can guarantee you it will be at eye-level.  Supermarkets do this because human beings are naturally lazy.  We will buy the product that is right in front of our faces, instead of bending down to the bottom shelf to find the cheaper equivalents.  Check it out when you are next in the supermarket.

5.  Understaffing the checkout

This is probably the most common tactic employed by all supermarkets.  How often have you found yourself peed off when stuck in the queue and there are lots of staff wandering around aimlessly, when 10 out of the 15 checkouts are open?  This supermarket is not understaffed, they are trying to get you to buy more.  You will typically be waiting in an aisle or near products.  The more you wait, the more likely you are going to buy the thing you have been staring at for the last ten minutes.  These are often special offers.  Ask yourself:   do I need 10 Glade Air Wick plug ins?  Sweets are usually located nearby too.  How many times have you spotted a child begging a harassed mum or dad for a packet of sweets that were conveniently located next to the queue?  Smart eh?

So that is my top 5. Keep these things in mind when you go to the supermarket and I guarantee you will come out with change!

Best wishes


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Saving money by shopping locally!

Dear all

My local shopping has officially begun.  I took to the Covered Market and North Parade yesterday and got my weekly shop in and I was pleasantly surprised with how much it cost.  According to some, shopping at local stores costs them more money than the supermarket.  I think that is a real shame but it has not been my experience.  Before I went shopping, I went on to Sainsbury’s website and tallied up what I would spend on buying items from there.  Here are the results broken down by category:

Vegetables:  £6.09

Meat:  £23.22

Store Cupboard:  £6.86

Bakery:  £0.80

Dairy:  £3.79

Total:  £40.76

Let’s see how the locals fare against a supermarket that claims to offer value for money.  

I went into town and took £40 out of the bank.  That is how I do things when I am on a budget, as the temptation is there to go mental with a debit or credit card.  I walked into the Covered Market and started my local shopping.  I went to a greengrocers, I won’t say what one at the moment, as I don’t want to sully any reputations, as I have a couple of qualms with what I got.   The stallholder was very helpful and he picked out all of the items for me.  I went in to buy:  1 yellow pepper, 2 red onions, 3lb potatoes, 2 brown onions, 1 bulb of garlic, 1 head of broccoli, and 250 g of chestnut mushrooms.  First of all, I found out that I only had to buy one of each onion, as they are HUGE!  I am not joking – they are triple the size of a supermarket onion.  You could smash a window with these!  There are a couple of things where this greengrocer did fall short.  When I got home, the yellow pepper I received was wrinkly and the chestnut mushrooms had gone off!  I wasn’t best pleased but I think it was down to the weather.  The Covered Market was roasting!  However, the vendor did refuse to sell me any of his broccoli, as it had gone yellow with the heat.  He referred me round the corner to the other greengrocer, which is out of direct sunlight and it was lovely.  I think I will try him for everything next week.  The total I spent:

Vegetables:  £5.30 – CHEAPER THAN THE SUPERMARKET!  

My next stop was the butchers where I was in for an even bigger surprise.  I chose to go to Meatmaster, which is a locally run meat cash and carry.  They supply most of the Oxford colleges and I have bought their meat in the past and it is very high quality at very low prices.  I bought 6 cumberland sausages for £1.99 (very meaty). A pack of 4 pork loin steaks (2 will be frozen for next week), 500g lean minced beef, and 2 marinated lamb leg steaks – these were on 3 for £10 – can’t say any fairer than that.  I also bought a pack of 4 chicken breasts (again 2 will be frozen), and a pack of 2 good sized rump steaks – these were on 2 for £5!  I also bought six eggs, which he gave me for 50p – I will put that into the total for dairy later.  So the grand total for this hoard:

Meat:  £16.99.  MASSIVE SAVING!

The rest of it I got from the Nine til Nine shop.  I won’t bore you with the details on this one but my shopping ranged from milk to curry paste (yes I am lazy)! The dairy was a bit more expensive than the supermarket but not by much:

Dairy:  £1.50 – CHEAPER THAN THE SUPERMARKET AGAIN! (this includes the price of the eggs)

The rest of the stuff came to around £6.00 which is still cheaper than the supermarket! 

So essentially, the conclusion I can make here is that local shopping is CHEAPER THAN THE SUPERMARKET, BY £10.97 – hope my maths is right!!!  I am going to be slightly better off and my principles are completely in tact!

Best wishes


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The Grand Strategy Pt. 2

Dear friends

Thanks for the Facebook comments and shares.  I have received loads of hits since this blog went live this weekend and I am glad that you are interested and supportive of my cause.  I promised that I was going to tell you about where I was going to spend the rest of my shopping budget, so here is part two of my grand strategy!

I am very lucky to live in a city that is well served with local businesses.  From delicatessens to convenience stores, I can shop 100% locally and not give a single penny to the supermarket.  As I explained yesterday, I intend to spend 80% of my budget in the Covered Market but there isn’t a locally run shop in there that sells general groceries.  That does not mean that I have to sell part of my soul back to Sainsbury’s…far from it.  I can choose from one of the many local shops for these goods.  

On the grocery section of my shopping list this week, I have 5 items:  tins of chopped tomatoes, pasta, olive oil, a jar of curry sauce (I am lazy) and a naan bread.  This week, I intend to cycle to my local shopping precinct on North Parade, which is a street that is exclusively independent shops and pubs.  I can buy everything my heart desires there from modern art to a tin of beans.  I will give my hard earned cash (I use the term hard-earned very lightly indeed), to the man who runs the Nine til Nine shop at the corner of South Parade.  I have shopped there before when I have run out of basics, such as bread and milk.  I think I will use him a lot more, as he is but a 10 minute cycle away.  I am also researching another possibility.

There is a movement of locally-minded people in the United Kingdom, who are also sick of the supermarket.  They have been inspired by a Channel 4 documentary to set up their own cooperatives, which give the local population what they want and gives the supermarkets a firm kick in the nuts in the process.  ‘The People’s Supermarket’ movement started in Lambeth in 2009 and has grown from strength to strength.  The basic premise is that you sign up for membership, donate your time to the shop once a month, and receive a massive discount on your groceries as a thank you.  This is something that I really approve of.  

There is a People’s Supermarket on Cowley Road in Oxford.  That is quite a trek from where I stay but I have a bike and I should use it a lot more.  The website states that I can shop there and receive good value for money but if I volunteer for a four hour shift once a month, I will get 20% off my groceries.  They claim to buy everything locally and will do their best to stock items that you cannot find on your visit.  I think that sounds fair enough to me!  I will give that a try next week and ask them a bit more about the volunteering side of things.  Here is a link to their website:   I would be very interested to find out if any of my readers know of any such initiatives in their own local areas.  

So that is the plan so far.  If anyone has any constructive comments or criticisms please let me know.  Tune in tomorrow to find out about the local shopping that I have done today.  I have lots of exciting news!

Best wishes





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