Category Archives: groceries

Buying Local & Riverford

Today’s prompt for Blogtember states, “Share links to your favorite online shops, preferably with a few photos of your favorite items in each shop.”  
Do not get me wrong, I love to shop.  Especially if it means I am shopping without the kids and with either my husband or friends.  I could spend hours just browsing the store, whether I buy anything or not.  However in our life as expats we are not doing all that much shopping like we used to do when we lived stateside.  As a mum I tend to feel guilty if I buy something for myself and not for my kids first.  I live in a house where someone is constantly outgrowing something or needs something for school.  With all the growing my sons do they equally do a lot of eating.  So when it comes to conversations about shopping in my house it usually has to do with food.
Living in England has made food shopping so much more enjoyable.  When we lived in Brighton we used to go to the grocery store once or twice a week to just pick up a few items that we would need for the next few days.  Whatever we bought we had to walk home with and so it made it really easy to stick to a shopping list.  Since moving to Bath we have discovered the joys of ordering groceries online and having it delivered. Genius idea! It is as simple as going on the computer or smart phone to make up your shopping list, pay, and then schedule the delivery date. 
We have recently stopped ordering our groceries from the chain stores and started ordering from local farms. We have tried out two different places and have decided we like to order different things from both places to fit our family’s needs and budget. It is organic from our local farms…what could be better?  I can even tell the quality difference in the meat from what we have gotten before.  I was a eating a mostly vegetarian diet in the US because I did not really care for meat, but here it just tastes so much better.  Plus the fact that we can get this quality food in our budget makes me want to do a song and dance. 
I had heard about Riverford from my fellow expat friend and had been wanting to try it for sometime.  I regret not ordering from there sooner.  Their service is amazing and when they delivered for the first time I got to meet both our driver and our local Riverford Vegman for Somerset. I love that the meat comes packaged nicely, lined in sheep’s wool with ice packs. Plus they ask for the packaging back so that it can be reused.  With your order comes a nice letter and recipe booklets for the food of that season.  It is like christmas morning opening up our veg box to see what is inside. It has made our cooking even that more interesting as we work around what comes in our delivery.
We found Somerset Local Food Direct online when searching for places that delivered raw milk.  If you have never had the very first sip from a newly opened jug of raw milk, you are definitely missing out on a taste of heaven.  We get two at a time, freezing one and putting the other in the fridge.  We have tried a few different other things from them as well, like venison burgers and were very pleased indeed!  We have decided to definitely continue ordering our milk and our bacon from Somerset Local Food Direct.  The bacon is the best I we have gotten from any grocery store, butcher, or online store.  It is thick and I actually find the fat edible and do not cut it off for being rubbery. Our delivery man is the sweetest and so friendly.  I was sad about not having my milk delivered like when I was a kid, so having my ‘milk man’ back has been a highlight for my expat life. 
If we were to go to the grocery store we would need to either walk thirty minutes or take the bus and pay per person that was going to the store with us. We then would have to fight through the crowd, deal with whatever mood our kids are in (because little boys love shopping for food), try to not put in anything that we did not initially come to the store for, and stay in budget. After waiting in the queue and paying we would then have to carry all our bags home.  Instead we spend about fifteen minutes online ordering the food to have it delivered.  I honestly hope we never live somewhere that I do not have this option.  It has made life so much easier.  I would not want to go back. 
We like to use Riverford and Somerset Local Food Direct.  
Q: Do you buy local? Where are your favourite places to do food shopping where you live?

*photographs  belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

Food Shopping in the UK made Simple

I would like to take you back a few years to when I was living in Hawaii, USA courtesy of the United States Air Force.  When it came to eating and food Ryan and I found ourselves in the melting pot of asian cruisine from the Phillipines, Vietnam, Thailand, and China (to name a few). Our eldest was 2 and our youngest was born in Hawaii and they grew up there asking to eat sushi, pho, fish, and shrimp for meals.  It was not the typical food from mainland USA but it became the norm for my family.  If we were not eating out we were buying our groceries from the commissary on base.  Usually twice a month we would go and fill up our shopping cart till it could hold no more just like the other military families.   If you were not careful shopping at the commissary could be like a mother on her own shopping at Target.  You leave with a cart full of items and many of which were not on your original shopping list.

Let us fast forward to my husband and I moving to England.

After we had graduated from living in a hostel and eating homemade sandwiches, we found a room to rent and could start buying groceries to cook real meals.  However we walk or take public transport everywhere. The ‘american style’  of shopping is not going to work here. The nearest grocery store was far off and we would have to be smart about which items we chose because they would have to be carried all the way back home.

When we moved out of Brighton to the town of Haywards Heath we were now a short five minute walk from our town’s grocery store.  It now became normal to go to the store every day or every other day for one or two items.  It was on the way home from work and accessible.  We do not have a car to take home bags and bags of groceries.  We get what we really need and we carry it home.

I look back on shopping in the USA now and I cannot imagine doing that here in England.  Our fridge contains what we need for the week and we possibly fill up one small cabinet space with items such as teas, oils, spices, baking items, rice and porridge oats. The pantry we have has items like sweet potatoes and onions, extra toilet paper roll and unused kitchen appliances like a microwave we now never use.  Its about simplicity. There must be a need and an immediate use.

 So we do not have a pantry full of unused boxed and canned items full of sugar, salt, and preservatives   We may have to get creative if a zombie apocalypse happens. 😉

Luckily for us there are no zombies. However we did get creative and resourceful.  This week was our second time of having groceries delivered to the door.  Ryan spends a few minutes on his phone ticking off items we need while seeing what specials are on offer.  Then the items come at a scheduled time in colour coordinated bags to tell me where they need to be put away.

I feel spoiled.

To think of walking with the kids to the bus station, to wait for a bus, to get to the store where I have to find what I need while being swarmed by many other shoppers, only to have to wait in line and then carry everything home is just exhausting having to type in this blog. Plus have I mentioned we got our organic veg box?  I am in heaven.

* Photographs belong to Bonnie Rose and cannot be used without written consent.