One of my favourite places to shop in Brighton is a new independent supermarket called hiSbe on the London Road. hiSbe works directly with farmers and producers where possible and sells healthy, local food below recommended retail prices. Their fish is sourced from sustainably managed stocks, and meat and dairy is sourced from local farms that prioritise welfare. I love their innovative dispensers containing dry goods such as rice, pasta, nuts and oats. This ‘fill and weigh’ method allows you to decide exactly how much you need, thereby reducing unnecessary outlay, waste and packaging. Other features of the store include a Fairtrade coffee bar and healthy takeaway food made by local food businesses.
If, like most of us, the economic recovery hasn’t quite trickled-down to you yet and budgeting for your weekly shop is a constant challenge, here are a few ideas to make your food last longer. Rigorously stick to your shopping list, but watch out for special offers at various outlets among more expensive items such as meat and fish. Compare different sizes and brands by checking the unit price listed beneath the item on shelves, rather than relying on smart marketing. Supermarkets regularly show huge price variations between loose and pre-packed produce – either may be more costly than the other (sometimes twice the price). Be aware and take your calculator with you!
Seasonal fruit and vegetables are nutrient-dense, fresher, cheaper and longer lasting. Also consider frozen vegetables, but avoid pre-bagged salads and chopped vegetables as they are more expensive and spoil faster. Adding more vegetables and dried or canned beans to meat and vegetable dishes helps to stretch them out. When buying canned goods, check for those without added salt, sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Make a habit of cooking larger portions as you can freeze the surplus. This is easy to do with soups, stews, casseroles, minces and curries – clearly labelled and dated. Or incorporate leftovers from evening meals into tasty stir-fries and salads to be enjoyed the next day.
Choosing quality over convenience with basic ingredients cooked from scratch is healthier in the short- and long-term than processed convenience food. Traditional chicken soup, handed down from my grandmother, is a treasured recipe. It is simple and economical as several meals can be prepared from one chicken plus added vegetables. Nothing goes to waste because you can enjoy the broth or use it to enrich other dishes. The leftover meat can be incorporated into sandwiches, rice or pasta dishes.
Meat stocks concentrate the flavours and nutrients from their ingredients, and consumed on a regular basis may even offer protection from a variety of health complaints. In the 12th century, the Jewish physician Moses Maimonides prescribed chicken soup as a treatment for colds and asthma, declaring that it “is recommended as an excellent food as well as medication.”