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Monday, 7 September 2009

The mysteries of the supermarket trolley

I worked as a cashier for a major supermarket for 2 years from 2003-2005, and since then have been fascinated by the food that other people buy and eat. I find it hard to understand why people moan about the size of their food bill when they insist on buying so much expensive junk - it seems to me that there are three (four in fact) things that make food bills expensive - meat, alcohol, ready meals and buying branded goods. Since we do not eat meat and very rarely drink, that takes care of the first two. Being wheat free takes care of the third one, since most ready meals are swimming in the stuff, and as for the branded goods - apart from Green and Blacks chocolate, the cheaper stuff is in my opinion just as good.

People tell me that the reason they buy ready meals is convenience and because they don't have time to cook. More often it is because they don't know how to cook. When you have unusual dietary needs as Coran and I do, you are forced to cook for yourself from scratch, as there are no or very little convenience foods that are suitable, apart from the odd curry, most of which I find too hot anyway. As for the frozen roast potatoes and the like which some people like to buy - that's just being lazy! These things cost a fortune, so being lazy and not bothering to learn how to cook is an expensive habit. It's not one that I could afford, for the sake of my health or my bank balance, but each to their own.

People are so used to relying on wheat and convenience foods that they cannot imagine what people in our position live on - the answer is really quite simple - everything except meat and wheat! Tesco and Sainsburys (I prefer Tesco, as there isn't a large Sainsbury's close enough to home, and I am used to their store layouts), do an excellent range of wheat free foods, including delicious cakes and puddings, and occasionally we like to treat ourselves. We rarely buy wheat free bread, except when travelling, as it extremely expensive and mostly white without the goodness of wholemeal, so we tend to buy things like rice cakes and Ryvitas instead, which are cheaper and more nourishing. We have these for lunch with cheese, hummus or some other vegetarian pate with salad or in the winter when it gets cold, with a nice bowl of soup (Baxters do a very good range of wheat free, vegetarian soups, but the Tesco own label fresh ones are not too bad).

For our main meal, which during the week we eat at lunch time, we rely heavily on rice and pasta with occasional eggs and jacket spuds. On Sundays we have the traditional roast with veggie burgers or sausages, both of which are delicious, with all trimmings. Some of our favourite dishes include stuffed courgettes with cherry tomatoes, goats cheese and black olives, coconut rice and stir fries with either soy sauce or sweet and sour (occasionally as a treat with Pesto).

On an average week we spend between £40 and £45, around two thirds of what most of our couple friends spend, who do eat meat and wheat. This diet and lifestyle are then definitely cheaper.

Last week I bought:

Plum tomato soup, vegetable soup, 3 cartons of rice milk, oat cereal, porridge oats, washing powder, cheese and chive crisps, 2 packs of fish cakes, sweet and sour sauce, asparagus, broccoli, a fresh stir fry, organic eggs, multi grain Ryvitas, TV guide, Daily Mail, a bag of mixed salad, carrots, cheddar cheese, Quorn ham, pasta sauce with garlic and roasted vegetables, tomato and basil hummus, coleslaw, potato salad, apples, cherries, a pack of 3 pens, cherry tomatoes, baking potatoes, Ibuprofen, baked beans, Basmati rice, soya desserts, red onions and new potatoes.

In the freezer we have frozen chips, veggie sausages and frozen peas. See if you can guess what we ate? Bet you can't !

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